The Argument for Excess Battery

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read
The Argument for Excess Battery

I posted the above photo to Twitter last night:

Going to bed after a long day where I used my phone a ton and never charged it up...54% battery left.

I want the smaller iPhone, but this battery is going to be hard to give up.

One reasonable response to this could be that I really don't need that much battery life, and I'd be completely fine with a phone with half the capacity since I'm not even getting down below 50% most days. Hopefully this post will explain why I value "excess" battery in a phone.

Variations by Day

My phone was "in use" for about 5 hours that day, and was at 54% when I went to bed. That's a pretty heavy day for me, but it's not unheard of. Games, talking to folks, listening to things, and watching videos all can add up, but yesterday I did 5 hours.

Most days I use my phone less, but other days I use it more. I also use it differently from day to day, so 5 hours of use on a day where I'm mostly listening to podcasts is different from a 5 hour day where I play a game for a long time. Also a 5 hour day out on the town on 5G is different from a day spent at home on Wi-Fi.

The value here is that no matter what my use case is that day, or how much I'm using the phone, I never have to worry about it dying because there's enough overhead. Chopping my battery in half would still work most days, but it wouldn't work everyday, and that suddenly makes it something I need to think about and adjust how I use my phone on heavy days.

Dealing with the Unexpected

One night last week I forgot to charge my phone overnight and I didn't have time the next morning to do it either, but that was fine because I had enough juice to get through most of the next day without an issue.

A few weeks ago I went on a one-night trip out of state and just didn't bring my phone charger with me. My Apple Watch also can make it through nearly 2 days, so I didn't need to bring a single charger on this trip, which was nice.

Earlier this year I spent the day in Chicago where I didn't have access to charge up, but I was using my phone constantly to get around and to pay for things, and I was able to do this all without babying my phone. It was just a tool I could use as much as I needed.

My point is that what is "excess" battery most days turns into very useful battery on unusual days, and is just one less thing I need to think about.

Years Down the Road

This one isn't so much for me personally (yet), but most people keep their phones for 2-4 years, and your battery life is going to falter in that time. The same as why the "overpowered" A-series processors in iPhones pay dividends down the road when they still feel quick a few years later, having more battery on day one means having a better battery experience in years 2, 3, and 4 of owning a phone.

Again, this one is less about me since I still get a new phone every year, but for the average person who is on a more reasonable cycle.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the theme here is that I enjoying having a battery that's more than large enough most days so that I can remove "is my phone going to make it through today?" from my brain space. It's actually the same reason why I buy the bigger iPhone storage option: I don't want to have to think about whether I can download an album or get a large game on my phone, there's enough space for me to just use the device and not think about managing it.

I understand this is not a priority for everyone, and some would say…

  • "Just bring a charger with you on short trips"
  • "Just carry a battery bank with you on busy days"
  • "Just use your phone less"

These are all reasonable things, and I certainly could do them, but in my opinion each of these is a worse experience than having a big-ass battery that I never need to worry about.

The iPhone 14 liner is being announced tomorrow, and I expect to order one, and I want to downgrade to the smaller Pro this year. I love the battery life, but I don't love the size in general. My decision on pre-order day is almost certainly going to come down to whether I think I can go back to worrying a bit about my battery life, or if I want to continue this lovely world of not ever worrying. We'll see!