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Ads watchdog slaps down Sony smartphone battery life claim

Maker didn't mention 'lab conditions'

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told Sony Ericsson never again to claim that a smartphone's battery will run for more than 18 days on a single charge without making it clear in what conditions that battery life can be achieved.

The ruling follows a complaint from a punter who spotted the statement, "standby time (up to) 446 hours", on SE's X8 website and didn't believe it was possible.

The watchdog challenged the phone maker to justify its claim. SE said the oft-used caveat "battery performance may vary depending on network conditions and configuration, and phone usage" was sufficient to cover it should users experience considerably less battery life than that.

SE also provided the ASA with test data that showed the X8's battery will indeed last for 446 hours but only in "a controlled laboratory environment", the organisation said.

"Without qualification explaining that the maximum level was theoretical, we considered that consumers would infer from the ad that the battery was capable of lasting this long during normal consumer use… whereas we understood that the battery life during normal use could be considerably lower," the ASA ruled.

Alas, the ASA can only rule on specific complaints. Yet Sony Ericsson's battery life caveat is one used by every phone maker, though the wording may differ slightly. We hope SE's competitors will learn from this ruling and present truly realistic battery life timings in future. ®

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