Don Norman: Designing For People

Nielsen Norman Group

Stop Cellphone Anorexia: Make Batteries Last the Day. A Rant.

How can we get the batteries on our smart phones to last the entire day? Make them bigger. Eliminate phone anorexia.

Why do our smart phone batteries run out of power before the day is over? Why do so many people have to seek out chargers and wall outlets or to carry extra batteries?

"Ineffective battery technologies," say the phone manufacturers, "if only battery technology was better, then they would last the whole day."

"Nonsense," I say, "nonsense."

The evil is the cult of thinness. Phone Anorexia.  Want to make batteries last beyond the day? Make them bigger. It is that simple. Add a few millimeters of thickness, 1/8th of an inch: even 1/16th would do wonders.  That's all it would take.

Why do we so insist on making everything so thin? Vanity. And yes, you, Apple, are to blame as the leader of the pack.  Apple made phone anorexia into a cult.  We all suffer as a result.

But, some will ask, "if we did have better batteries, then wouldn't the phone batteries last a longer time?"  No. Not if the cult of thinness persists.  Because what will happen is that the phones will get even thinner.

Want the batteries to last all day -- perhaps several days?  Demand that they do so. Lead a consumer revolt. Make thick into a virtue.


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