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Have you ever had a mobile call that sounded like the other person was talking with a scarf over their mouth? With 3G technology, that experience is not at all uncommon. That’s because most 3G calls use narrowband codecs that compress the bandwidth of our voice. In moderate to poor areas of coverage, the compressed voice signal may be further degraded by RF-related signaling errors, resulting in a muffled or distorted sound to the speaker’s voice.

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Have you seen Samsung’s latest ad for the Galaxy S5? It’s called “Don’t Be a Wall Hugger.” The ad brings to life the most frustrating aspect of owning a smartphone—the need to constantly recharge the battery. In the ad, Samsung touts the improvements it has made to the Galaxy S5 battery life through better power efficiency. Samsung isn’t the first to feature battery life in major advertising campaigns and given its importance to customers, we expect battery life to be a key industry focus in coming years.

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Building off of my previous post, “Why the Smartphone is the New Ball & Chain,” I suppose we’ve all adapted to the current battery life situation, even if we don’t love it. That includes device makers and the broader industry as well as device consumers like myself. Unfortunately, the smartphone trends hide a concerning issue that could make the current situation even worse—unless the industry changes course.

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About ten years ago, I had this lovely little silver device that fit in the palm of my hand and I remember thinking, "mobile devices can’t get much better than this." I could talk for hours and hours and send text messages when I couldn’t talk. Ok, so I couldn't check my email or browse the web, but who cared ten years ago? And best of all, I could charge up and go for days without the need to plug in. I was free. The untethered dream had been realized. Little did I know, the smartphone was coming—and that it was going to be the end of my untethered dream.

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