So the radio in your phone is often one of the worst offenders in draining your battery. For all of our criticism surrounding powerful quad-cores, throw your phone into airplane mode, and it’s shocking how long that quad can run. We can only pack in SO much battery density, and the rest of your phone can be surprisingly frugal, which is why developments in radio management are so crucial to improving the smartphone experience.
Qualcomm has been working on Envelope Tracking for their LTE radio technology. To over-simplify, LTE is a little different in how it communicates with cell towers than 3G, which in the past has made it more difficult to adjust the power of the radio in your phone while maintaining a stable connection to a tower. Essentially, your phone’s radio tries to find an average signal to broadcast at, but often just runs at max on LTE, which is pretty terrible for battery life, and can sometimes result in a poor connection.
Envelope Tracking for LTE allows the radio to better scale with the quality of the tower’s signal. As the radio is working a brute force style signal, it should greatly reduce the amount of power needed to run, which should also cut back on wasted heat. Qualcomm is estimating a 20% reduction in power and a 30% reduction in heat generated by the radio. This should also provide a more stable link to the tower, hopefully resulting in faster throughput.
Now normally when we write up new tech like this it’s usually an article about researchers in a lab, and we’ll all have to wait for the breakthrough to eventually filter down into our actual consumer devices. The nice thing about Qualcomm’s ET gear is it’s already going to be included in the Galaxy Note 3. Likely one of the reasons Samsung went with Qualcomm’s 800 series chipset for its LTE variants of the note.