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Will the Palm Pre Be Crippled By Its Battery?

Palm's very promising Pre smartphone looks like it may reuse battery tech from it's older Centro sibling. And while this is probably good news as far as pricing is concerned, the decision has people asking: "is the battery big enough to run such a powerful phone?"

According to reports on PreCentral, the Pre will use the same small 1150mAh battery as used in the Centro and the Treo 800w. A Palm representative mentioned a 1200mAh battery to a different reporter at CES—this could be a slip of the tongue, or a new battery with very similar capacity.

But with the Pre's large screen (3.1 inches) and graphics-intensive user interface, it's likely to be making higher demands on the power supply than either the Centro or the Treo, which could mean it suffers a reduced battery lifespan—requiring recharging every night, for example.

The T-Mobile G1 has a 1100mAh battery and needs frequent recharging, while the iPhone uses a 1400mAh unit, but its highly graphics-intensive UI and 3G electronic means it has pretty limited battery life (Steve Jobs actually mentioned reduced battery life as a reason Apple wasn't going to make a 3G iPhone originally.) The new Blackberry Storm, with a similar-sized screen (at 3.25 inches) and graphic-heavy interface has a 1400mAh battery (some 20% larger than the Pre's.)

While there's a fuss about this, we'll have to wait to learn more about the Pre before rushing to condemn it courtesy of its poor power source. It's perfectly possible Palm has made an efficient phone that has an acceptable battery life of over a day or so.

Plus, recharging every night is not such a problem—my iPhone sits docked to my computer to get more juice every night, and get its back-up sync, so it's become a habit, not a problem. Of course the Pre does have that wireless charging trick, so if you're away from base for an extended time you may have to haul an extra bit of hardware around (versus a simple USB cable) to charge it. And that might be a pain.


[PreCentral, Pocketables via Engadget, Gizmodo]