I am not a tech reviewer.
Consumer electronics, while a love of mine, aren’t things that I would actually write about. There’s a lot of information to discuss, and the learning curve is pretty high. Commenters are likely to crucify you if you make the slightest of errors, and God forbid that you compare a product to (the arguably, most successful) fruit-named brand, lest the internet rise up and riot against your ethics-in-journalistic-violations.
What I can talk about, though, is my experiences with technology, and how, as a daily user, I’m more likely to speak for the people who read the reviews than the reviewers who review them. This isn’t to discredit them, either: they all do their jobs incredibly well: there’s something to be said about the different methodologies and styles that the reviewers bring to the table.
Some of the “old hats” (The Verge, Android Authority, Engadget) talk about the tech from their perspective – elegant devices meant to better our lives, while the MKBHDs of the world make videos that “they’d want to watch”. The Austin Nwachukwu’s make videos that, while funny and informative, feel like actual tangible interactions: they’re things would actually ask someone who’s owned the device for some time. But for all these guys do, there’s still one thing they say that just irks me.
“This device only lasts a day with its battery.”
“Only a day”? Mate, what year is it? We are in 2015! It is the time of portable wireless chargers and swappable batteries! (Sorry, iDevice friends. You’ve still got battery-powered cases, though, right?)
It’s something that I’ve talked about before, but never really gotten worked up over, but after reading The Verge’s review of Sony’s new Xperia Z4 and hitting the line, “…I found myself disappointed by the Z4 Tablet’s battery life,” I had to pause, remove my glasses, and let out a high-pitched squeal before returning to the review. But alas, it kept going. Reviewer Vlad Savov continued:
The actual battery is no smaller (6,000mAh) than in the Xperia Z2 Tablet, but I’m having to recharge the newer device more often. I have to top up the Z4’s charge every couple of days, whether I use it or not. That’s somewhat unusual for tablets, which can last for multiple days when left idling. The Z4 Tablet still has decent battery life, but it’s not as impressive as, say, Google’s Nexus 9 or Apple’s latest iPads.
Here’s where I’m coming from on this issue. For the majority of the year, I’m a student. I’m up in the morning around 7, and I get home between 4:30 and 10:30 pm. During that time, my phone is kicking in my pocket, and while I usually don’t have sync notifications enabled, I’ll knock my battery out of the park with a bit of tweeting, a lot of Twitter, a lot of Snapchat, and browsing Reddit for some new dank memes. (As an aside, I love that phrase. Dank memes. Dank. Memes. It’s like, who comes up with this stuff? Who names this nonsense? God, I love the 21st century!)
Now, my “daily driver”, to use the technical terminology, was a OnePlus One – y’know, that mythical beast of cellular devices. Unfortunately, I broke it a week into owning it, so it was a pretty rough time getting around to replacing it. Currently, while that’s getting ready to get sent away for repairs, I’m sporting an LG G3. It’s sleek, it’s powerful, and it saps my battery like a motherfucker. (As an aside, if anyone’s got any ideas/ROMs/suggestions on improving this thing’s battery life, I’ll love you forever. Please. Pretty please. Thx.)
But that’s not all. I’ve also got a
broken Nexus 7 in my room, and my primary note-taking device is a Galaxy Note 12.2. And if I was worried about batteries before, the battery on that latter tablet is an absolute champ. I can catch an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the way to school, annotate my bio notes before/during class, write a short story during lunch, sweat over valence orbitals while at the campus bar with friends, and I’ll still sport at least 40% battery when getting home in the evening. Like I said, total beast.
BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.
I’ve got my laptop! It’s a Dell Inspiron something, and I’ve been meaning to upgrade it for god knows how long, but I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger. It’s dope, though, and does the job well. But the thing is, it’s not a MacBook Air/Pro, and that means that the battery is incredibly disappointing, so that forces me to carry my charger around too. I don’t mind; my charger doesn’t take up space in my bag. If anything, as long as it extends the life of my device, it’s a good call to make.
“But Kobe,” you say. “You’re not in summer school, right? What are you doing right now?”
Glad you asked.
Currently, I’m doing a summer job. It’s a contract gig, and it’s money in my pocket, but it means that from 9-5 (okay, fine, 8:30-4:30), I’m at a computer sweating over Google Analytics data or in meetings or with a camera around my neck, taking photos at a few different locations. But that’s the thing: most of the time, I’m by a computer.
This is where my beef with reviewers comes in, though. For a huge part of my life, I am by a device with a charging port. Or a wall outlet. There is no time of day where I’m not near a way to top up a device of mine. This isn’t just a “me” thing – I’ve seen plenty of students with myriads of different devices during my time at school doing the exact same thing. You’ve got the kid in study hall who’s got his Nexus plugged into a wall outlet, or the girl who rushes for a wall seat in the lecture to make sure her iPhone doesn’t run out of juice in the meanwhile. And do NOT get me started on the frat bro who’s got his smartwatch charging on a cradle somewhere. Dude. Come on.
It’s ridiculous. Really, we should be asking ourselves why manufacturers aren’t abandoning their quest to give us thinner devices and instead, working on giving us bigger batteries. I don’t care that your phone is now thinner-by-the-width-of-my-credit-card: I just want to know if I can see Barcelona’s Snap Story before my battery dies before lunch.
But more importantly, why in the world would I keep my devices uncharged, overnight, for multiple days? It’s absurd! You know how awful it is to wake up and realize that rather than having a battery of 100%, my device is kicking at 40%? You know what that means? I’ve got to actually listen to music on my iPod that day, and not through Spotify! It’s 2015, not 2007 – I can’t go back to those days!
Personally, I just hate seeing that my devices aren’t at 100% when I wake up. I wish wireless charging was more of a big deal, actually – it’d be pretty darn convenient to just drop them there and crash, rather than stumbling in the dark to plug them in. But hey, sue me, right? Actually. Don’t. I’m not the only one who plugs in their stuff the night before, and even if I don’t, my lifestyle isn’t so much of an outlier that I’m the only one who has access to topping up my devices if they’re dying midway through the day.
Look. At the end of the day, these reviewers are doing their jobs in the best way they know how. For the most part, they do it well, and the great thing about disagreeing with them is that for lack of capital and a domain name, there’s nothing stopping you from doing your own thing. You wanna review things for a niche audience, or do unboxing videos? Go right ahead! But tech fam. Please. It is 2015. Let’s stop pretending that you wake up, unplug your tablet, and then leave it lying around for three or four days until it’s drained of battery. You’re a little bit like me. You’ve got a little bit of me inside you.
Don’t tell me you don’t plug your device in every night.