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Qnovo Sony deal could save the smartphone battery

Smartphones are getting smarter and networks are getting faster, but with the surge in mobile first TV and services such as T-Mobile’s Binge On, smartphone batteries are struggling to keep up – which is one of the most frustrating factors for consumers.

That was until we met with Qnovo at Mobile World Congress this year, which announced at the show that its mobile charging technology has won its first ever deal, and a pretty major one at that – in Sony’s latest Xperia line of smartphones.

The California-based company was showcasing technology that claims to enable devices to last up to twice as long, speed up the charging time, and also increase the life cycle by up to eight times as compared to traditional constant current, constant voltage (CCCV) charging. Qnovo has demonstrated that it can recharge a dead battery to 80% in just 30 minutes – whereas it says this normally take 2-3 hours. This may sound like a simple case of just firing more amps into the device, but that would severely degrade the battery. We asked Qnovo how it does this, but was told it was secret. All it would say was that its QNS adaptive charging software works by injecting charge packets both to measure a cell’s health and to adaptively modify its charging current.

The US company began as a silicon and software firm, but has now moved away from the silicon side to concentrate on integrating its software with the giants of the chip world such as Qualcomm and Intel. Qnovo’s software is integrated into the device OS during the design process.

Qnovo currently has 15 approved patents and another 15 to 20 in the pipeline, and the company has received investments from Sony Mobile, Intel Capital, RockPort Capital, US Venture Partners, and BRV Lotus.

The company says its technology is complementary to, not competitive with, Qualcomm’s and Nokia’s rapid charging technologies. It also told us it is in talks with several more handset makers. The technology can also be integrated into other devices such as laptops and wearables but Qnovo is focusing most of its energy on smartphones.

“We recognize that battery performance is one of the key features to consumers today and becomes even more critical to mobile devices going forward,” said Sony Mobile CEO Hiroki Totoki. “Our investment in Qnovo and its innovative intelligent charging process allows us to deliver an even better consumer mobile experience.”

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