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What is the most important specification in a smartphone? It's not the operating system (Android, Apple, BlackBerry, or Windows). It's not the screen size, storage, processor speed, or camera. It's the battery life, because as we've all found out, our smartphones are pretty darn useless when they're dead -- and they're always dying.
Android L, the next version of the mobile operating system, will be a lot of things: a design update, a move from Dalvik to the faster ART runtime, some to be determined reference to a dessert. But more than anything, Android L excites us because of Project Volta.
Volta. Volt. Voltage. Power. Battery Life. Get it?
Does Project Volta Work?
Unfortunately, Android L's developer preview has only been released for a few devices, none of which we have handy. But Ars Technica, being the big, bad tech reporters that they are, had a Nexus 5 lying around for testing purposes. How'd the pre-release version of Android L shape up, battery-life wise?
With fresh installs of both the current Android 4.4.4 and L, and apps all updated, Ars ran a battery test that keeps the screen on and refreshed a web page over Wi-Fi every fifteen seconds. The L preview resulted in thirty-six percent more battery life, or two extra hours of runtime.
Other Powerfull Features
The extra two hours was without Android L's new "battery saver" feature, which goes into an ultra power-saving mode when the battery hits 15 percent, slowing down performance, and cutting down background data and screen brightness. With that, your phone would last even longer.
Battery Historian should prove to be an interesting tool for users as well. Currently, you can see what app is draining your battery since your last charge, but once you plug in, it starts over. The new tool tracks battery usage for longer, and displays it in a handy chart.
One caveat: the Ars test was run on a pre-release version of Android L for developers. The final version may be more optimized for battery longevity, or may have different features that consume additional battery life.