Why carry a flashlight when your phone has a torch?
by wu ben on Apr 02, 2022
Why carry a flashlight?
Find things nearby in the dark
Flashlights on phones are undoubtedly a very useful feature - they can help you find things nearby in the dark and help you to be seen in emergencies. So you are probably thinking 'Why buy and carry a separate flashlight when I can use my phone?'. This is a fair question and below we will look at phone flashlight specifications, discuss when flashlights on phones are helpful and situations where they may not be so fit for purpose. This is to help you decide whether or not it would be beneficial for you to invest in a dedicated torch!
Phone battery capacity and energy consumption
The current a phone flashlight uses is around 80 mA (milliamps) , so in theory, if a phone battery has a capacity of 4500 mAh (milliamp hours), the running time should be around 56 hours (4500/80). BUT a phone has to run its system software, which uses around an additional 200 mA when the screen is on.
Runtime of phone flashlights
To calculate this we need to consider:
- The capacity of the phone battery: A larger phone battery has around 4500 mAh
- How much electric charge in milliamp hours (mAh) the battery uses when on: Around 200 mAh
- How much electric charge in milliamp hours the LED for the flashlight uses: Around 80 mAh
We will do a calculation below, for a phone with a large battery capacity (4500 mAh), with just the flashlight app used. Note that of course, in reality, the runtime of a phone flashlight will vary from phone to phone along with any background apps used. Also functions such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will consume more power and make the run time of the phone flashlight significantly less - so again this is approximate runtime for a phone with a 4500 mAh capacity ONLY using the flashlight app.
|Battery capacity /mAh||Approximate current used
when phone on /mAh
|Current used with
flashlight app /mAh
|4500||200||80+300 = 280||= 4500/280 = 16.1 hours|
So, in theory, a larger battery capacity phone has around 16 hours of flashlight runtime when no other apps are used and with just the flashlight function. This is actually impressive!
Output of phone flashlights
The output of a phone flashlight is around 40 lumens. 40 lumens is about the same as a 2.5W filament bulb. The type of light is diffused and does not have a concentrated beam spot. Because phone flashlight beams also tend to be more spread, they will be less disturbing to eyesight. So the type of light emitted from a phone is useful in some settings such as finding an object dropped in a vehicle or looking for something under a sofa.
When phone flashlights might not work so well
For activities such as nature walks, a dedicated flashlight will be more useful because the minimum output needed has to be at least around 300 lumens. Phone flashlights will also only have a maximum range of a few feet, so for camping, a phone flashlight will be very useful in a tent, but not so helpful with exploring outdoor areas in the dark.
Risk of loss or damage to your phone
Phones are vulnerable! Screens can crack easily even with screen protectors and hardened cases. Torches are designed to resist impact typically from 1.5 m drops and are waterproof- IP68 rated phones mean that they can be submerged in 2m of water for 1 hour! Also, if you are doing a task such as lighting up a car engine, dropping a phone will be more problematic and more expensive to replace than a flashlight and important media, files and sensitive information such as contacts may be lost.
Turning on the phone flashlight can be fiddly!
Unless you have organised your apps and are used to your phone, it can take a while to turn on the flashlight app. Touch screens can be difficult to operate if your hands are wet or you are wearing gloves. On the other hand, dedicated flashlights are ergonomically designed for the user to easily find the switch, feel comfortable in the hand and for the user to quickly and easily get to their desired output setting.
Dedicated flashlights have more modes
Most flashlights now have 'moon' mode to protect night vision and can have powerful turbo modes and strobe modes for self defence along with SOS modes to help you get rescued.
Flashlights can be portable too!
Check out our new product the G2 and our popular E6! They are small yet powerful. If you have a keychain, why just have an ordinary one? Our G1 and G2 are great keychain flashlights - they will save your phone battery and can be USB charged, so having one which uses the same charging cable as your phone will be convenient! Most of our flashlights are USB-C compatible!
Flashlights also give you a range of carrying options- reversible clips such as on our T1 are popular as they have a variety of ways to be attached to clothing. Flashlights also have holsters and lanyards for ease of carrying and getting out quickly. Head torches are also becoming increasingly popular as they completely free your hands and can be fitted to a cap!
Some flashlights can charge phones!
Many flashlights including our EDC and high output ones not only will save the battery of the phone but ones including our popular C2, D1 and E12 flashlights are also power banks designed to keep your smart phones charged! As well as being able to charge, our D1 is very much portable at just 10.5cm long, has a magnetic tail cap and a 175 degree wide angle beam!
The runtime of phone flashlights is impressive and a diffused 40 lumen output and a throw of a few feet is useful for finding objects in indoor settings, without hurting your eyes. But in an emergency, can you risk consuming your phone battery?
But why not carry both! Drop your phone in the dark? Your dedicated flashlight will help you locate it! They are affordable, help with self defence with their strobe setting, help you find objects nearby and people hundreds of metres away and help you get located in emergencies. If you are worried about carrying too many objects, consider our up and coming G2 and G1 are key chain flashlights. Our popular and compact E6 is small and easy to carry and remember you can also get a compact power bank flashlight which will not also save your phone battery, but also charge it - like our highly rated D1!
See the specs of Wuben's easy to carry keychain torches below!
|Model||Maximum output/lumens||Throw/m||Maximum runtime/hours||Weight/g||Length/mm|
See the specs of Wuben's power bank flashlights below!
|Model||Type of flashlight||Power bank capacity/mAh||Maximum output/lumens||Maximum throw/m|
|A1||Long range||33600||20,000||2000 (!!)|
|C2||Every day carry||4800||2,000||358|
|D1||Every day carry||3400||1,100||130|
|E12R||Every day carry||3400||1,200||179|