LONG BEACH, Calif. As 3G phones become more prevalent, users should be able to make cell phone purchase decisions based on clearly defined metrics that go well beyond today's ubiquitous talk and standby times, says Jeffrey B. Sampsell, vice president for technology at Qualcomm MEMS.
Sampsell made the case for such handset metrics as "video time," "average use time" and "multimedia time" at a business conference here Monday (May 21) running in conjunction with the Society for Information Display-sponsored Display Week. Not coincidentally, Qualcomm claims its interferometric modulator (Imod) displays, based on microelectromechanical systems technology, yield theoretically superior performance to LCDs under the expanded set of metrics it is proposing.
At the business conference, Sampsell called automakers' gas mileage rating system a model for the finer-grained stats that Qualcomm envisions for cell phones. Just as car manufacturers quote "two mpg ratings ... based on average city and highway driving, the cell phone's metrics should be based on the natural activities of an average cell phone user," he said.
Handset vendors and service providers today add value to cell phones by offering adjuncts to plain-vanilla voice such as short message service (SMS); location-based services; GPS navigation; and video in broadcast, streaming and cache modes. Those functions all deplete the battery power available in the phone, Sampsell noted.
"Current cell phone metrics [talk and standby time] are essentially measures of energy; they tell you how long you can talk [or stand by] before the energy in your battery is exhausted," he said. "It's not power consumption that is important [to the consumer] but energy consumption: At the end of the day, will I have enough energy left in my battery to do with my phone the things I want to do?" As the list of things consumers want to do on handsets expands, so should the array of performance stats quoted for phones, he said.
The proposed metrics are energy-based, Sampsell said. By modeling video, average and multimedia metrics for two hypothetical CDMA phonesone with an Imod display and one with an LCDQualcomm created a typical usage pattern during an average day: 90 minutes of talk time, 30 minutes of keyboard work (SMS, contact lookup, note-taking, etc.), 30 minutes of Web connectivity, 30 minutes of MP3 play time and 20 minutes of GPS navigation. The battery power left after this average day's usage is expressed in terms of the amount of video-watching time remaining.
Using that scenario, the LCD-based phone's "sticker" would quote 2.9 hours of video time, 51 minutes of average use time and 26 minutes of multimedia time, Sampsell said, whereas the Imod phone's sticker would promise 3.7 hours of video time, 142 minutes of average use time and 88 minutes of multimedia time.
"Much work remains to determine an optimally informative set of metrics," Sampsell acknowledged. But he asserted that more finely parsed gauges would provide the consumer with a clearer idea of the performance a given handset could deliver to exploit new applications and capabilities.