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I'm tired of giving up battery life for a reasonably sized phone

I don't want to lug around a big phone, but I also don't want bad battery life. What do I do?

Published onMay 25, 2019

google pixel 3 battery screen

Right now, my Google Pixel 3 is sitting on my desk in its natural habitat: on the Pixel Stand. It lives there now — not because I want it to, but because I can’t get away with using it as my main smartphone any longer. The battery life is just too poor.

Surprise, surprise, right? Not only did we mention this in our full Pixel 3 review, but countless others did too. I do enjoy wireless charging, but that doesn’t make up for the 2.5-3 hours of screen-on time I’m getting every day. That’s half of what other major flagships offer, and around an hour or two shy of what my Pixel 2 XL gets running the Android Q beta.

That’s right, a phone with beta software (albeit with a bigger battery) is getting more longevity out of a charge than a phone running stable software. It’s not that I dislike the Pixel 2 XL — it’s actually one of my favorite phones of all time — I’m just getting a little worn out with big phones.

Every phone is big now. Even the small phones offer more than enough screen real estate to watch YouTube and scroll through Instagram. I think that’s why I’m now more drawn to small phones than I used to be. You get a phone that’s easy to handle and doesn’t take up a ton of room in your pocket.

But battery life is consistently one of the sacrifices you need to make with smaller phones, and it’s getting old.

Further reading: Google Pixel 3 revisited in 2019 | Google Pixel 3a review

I don’t want to single out the Pixel 3 here. It’s common knowledge that phones with smaller batteries don’t last as long as phones with bigger batteries. That’s certainly the case with the Galaxy S10e, iPhone XS, and HUAWEI P30 compared to their bigger counterparts.

When you buy a phone for ~$750 or more — regardless of the display size — you should expect it to have a certain amount of features and perform well in most areas. The Pixel 3 nails it in most categories for me, except for, obviously, battery life. And I know the Pixel 3 XL can last longer on a single charge.

But damn it, I don’t want to lug around a big phone anymore.

Is there no end to the madness? Will this small phone = bad battery life situation ever improve? Or are all the small phone owners going to be tethered to their charging cables for the rest of their lives?

That’s maybe a bit of an overreaction, but you know what I mean.

So, to all the people who prefer small phones, I want to know: are you willing to put up with poor battery life for a smaller form factor? Or is battery life so important that you opt for the bigger phone?

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