Why is Apple reluctant to increase battery capacity when the iPhone has a short lifetime?

 Why is Apple reluctant to increase battery capacity when the iPhone has a short lifetime?

Produce | Netease Science and Technology Know or Not column group (public number: tech_163)

Mobile phone has become an indispensable electronic product in our daily life, and many people are basically in the mobile phone state. With the increasing use of mobile phones, the durability of mobile phone batteries has been paid more and more attention. Compared with Android phones, which have better battery life, the battery life challenge facing Apples iPhone is more urgent. Because from the beginning of the first generation of the iPhone, the battery capacity of the Apple mobile phone has always been on the low side. Why isnt Apple in a hurry to increase battery capacity, given its insufficient endurance?

New features offset dividends from battery performance improvements

Every year, Apple launches new iPhones, and consumers have high expectations that they will eventually run for two to three days on a full charge. But lithium-ion battery experts believe that Apples chances of increasing power to extend the battery life of the iPhone are almost nil.

Dee Strand, chief scientific officer of Wildcat Discovery Technology, a battery research company, says smartphone battery performance is improving rapidly every year. The problem is that new features are always offsetting the dividends of battery performance improvements. Asked when the battery would last for many days, Strand said, The answer is never.

That doesnt sound like good news for those who want the iPhone battery to last longer. With every improvement in battery performance, mobile phone companies want to add more features, such as larger screens, brighter displays, more applications, touch screen functions and so on, Strand said. Batteries will get better and better, but mobile phones will also have more and more functions.

In essence, batteries are always improving like CPUs, but they are not enough to meet the growing demand for electricity. With the advent of the ultra-high-speed 5G data era, the iPhone may have larger screens and its power demand will grow exponentially in the future.

This will require new batteries to sustain the power supply for several days. Apple is also working on other types of iPhone batteries, including fuel cells that burn clean energy. However, most of the alternatives that extend the battery life of the iPhone have some serious drawbacks.

Apple could add a thicker lithium-ion battery to the iPhone, but that would affect its never-ending quest for a thinner iPhone.

Sacrifice thickness for larger batteries? Apple disdains it

Over the years, many users and technology media have found that although the iPhone is getting thinner and thinner, the battery life has not been significantly extended. Thin phones make people feel sexier, but availability and durability are equally important. Many would prefer a slightly thicker cell phone with larger batteries to run for three or four days without charging.

This is a very reasonable requirement, after all, power exhaustion has become a daily concern for most people. Surveys show that longer battery life is becoming the most desirable feature for Smartphone users. Apples goal for the battery life of the iPhone is to enable users to use it regularly all day long when its fully charged. But crowds around airport charging stations and power outlets show that the needs of many heavy users are still difficult to meet.

However, Thinner Mobile Phones did not appear in the list of smartphone features that users are eager to improve. Since the advent of the iPhone more than a decade ago, smartphones have become lighter and thinner, so that so far, most users may have no other desire for the size of their phones. The more pressing need is to hold the mobile phone for a long time, which can not be improved by thinning the cell phone by a few millimeters.

Although the iPhone, which sacrifices thickness for larger batteries, seems to be popular with consumers, Apple is unlikely to do so because it has many ways to extend battery life without expanding the battery size. In addition, as we move towards real wireless charging, the charging mode may be changing.

Why dont Apple switch to Android if it cant offer users an iPhone with battery life of several days?

The biggest selling point of Android phones is the variety, which provides users with a large number of choices to meet their priority needs. Over the years, users have been demanding larger batteries that can last for many days, so some companies should try to launch large, thick Android phones and win the undisputed title of King of Battery Continuity.

But looking at the list of Android phones with the best battery life, we can see that the largest battery capacity seems to be only 5,000 mA. Its goal is to support heavy users to use it all day instead of not charging it for many days. Why is that? Is it because people who claim they want longer battery life lie? Or does the smartphone industry choose to ignore a seemingly large customer base?

Take Power5, a home-made manufacturer of Oulanfeng, for example, which is equipped with 13,000 mA batteries and can be fully charged for 7 to 10 days. It can also be used as an external battery to charge other devices, and it can be fully charged in only 2.5 hours. Power5, however, is more than three times the size and weight of the iPhone 8. Lets imagine: If you go to bed at 3 a.m. and find that your cell phone still has 58% of its power, are you really not going to charge it?

Sometimes people dont really want what they think they want. For example, mobile phone manufacturers may have good reasons why they dont try to produce larger batteries.

Apple has four reasons for its poor battery life

1. Maintain a consistent style of design

Usually, as the battery capacity increases, the thickness of the phone will also increase, which may also make the Apple phone thicker, which is not conducive to Apple to maintain its continuous uniform design style of the iPhone. For this reason, Apple chose to continue increasing battery capacity each time it upgraded, rather than immediately replacing small battery capacity with large battery capacity, because this would lead to a dramatic change in the shape of the iPhone, and gradual change would not make users feel too abrupt. In view of this, Apple did not immediately increase its battery capacity.

2. Do not use battery life as the sole selling point

Apples goal is to create a perfect experience for its users, while other companies are looking for a variety of selling points, of which long durations are the most common, but Apple is not uncommon. Apple pursues system optimization and overall fluency. As long as these two advantages dominate the competition with Android phones, it doesnt need to focus too much on continuity. You know, there are many factors that affect the performance of mobile phones, such as operating system, processor, endurance and so on, but most people may pay more attention to the first two.

3. Optimizing your own system with a bonus

Although the battery life of Apples iPhone is really not good, but through the optimization of the system, the power consumption of the mobile phone can be well controlled to some extent. For example, although Android phones have the same battery capacity as Apple phones, because the system is optimized differently and the iPhone lasts longer, there is no need for Apple to excessively pursue larger batteries than Android phones.

4. Controlling production cost and selling price

Apple has always been very strict about cost control, because higher costs mean higher cell phone prices. For this reason, when battery life can meet the needs of the vast majority of users, of course, Apple is reluctant to increase battery capacity, resulting in increased production costs of mobile phones, which in turn leads to high prices to scare away consumers. In view of this, although the user has been tucking away iPhone battery life for many years, apple still insists on not making too much difference, not because Apple has no such strength, but because it is unwilling to do so.

Misunderstanding of the complete charging and discharging cycle of the iPhone battery

The battery of the iPhone is non-removable, which means that it will eventually run out of storage power and need to be replaced. At the beginning of the birth of the iPhone, technology media commented on it: Apples battery can be recharged 400 times, probably for about two years.

Apple estimates that after 400 full charging and discharging cycles, the iPhone battery will lose 20% of its storage power. Greg Joswiak, Apples vice president of marketing, wasnt sure what was wrong. The New York Times commented on the initial evaluation of the iPhone about the battery: Apple said that the battery began to lose capacity after 300 or 400 charges.

However, things change when they are told. Subsequent reports began to claim that the iPhone would be scrapped after 300 to 400 charges. After 400 complete cycles of charging and discharging, the battery of the iPhone still has 80% charging capacity, Josviak explained. What Im talking about is the complete charging cycle, that is, the complete depletion and recharge of electricity, which is the complete chemical cycle. In other words, using a small amount of batteries and charging the iPhone is not a complete cycle. If you use a quarter of the power and charge it, that means you dont waste the entire charging cycle, says Josviak.

Apples iPhone Battery Page explains the rated battery life of the iPhone and provides many useful tips on how to extend battery life. For example, the page suggests to maintain lithium batteries properly, make sure that a full charging cycle is at least once a month.

So lets look at this objectively: if you completely exhaust the power of the iPhone every day, your battery will only hold 80% of the current power for about 13 months. Or in other words, battery usage varies from person to person, but in general, even after two years, the iPhone can still provide good battery life for all users other than heavy users. Most iPhone users will realize that, like most iPods, they dont need to replace batteries immediately.

To sum up, the battery of the iPhone, like all batteries, will lose its ability to maintain power over time. Although the claim that the iPhone battery will be scrapped in two years is totally wrong, the fact is that sooner or later the battery will run out of storage power. But the good news is that it wont come true at least in a short time.

Cut off the charging line and change the traditional charging mode

In addition to the above reasons, Apple is not in a hurry to improve battery life, there are also reasons for the immaturity of new charging technology.

The current charging mode still follows the model of the beginning of the mobile phone, that is, to plug in wires before sleeping, so that they can be charged at night for use during the day. This is a pattern we are all used to, because it does not cause much inconvenience and is considered to be the privilege of carrying a pocket supercomputer with us. The Qi wireless induction charging technology was used in Apples iPhone launched in 2017, but that hasnt changed the charging mode significantly.

However, as giants like Apple rapidly increase awareness, demand and popularity of wireless charging, coupled with a sharp drop in prices, the number and types of wireless chargers are exploding, and this trend will undoubtedly continue, because the future of the iPhone will use Qi charging, and other smartphone manufacturers will. As consumers scramble to join, they will upgrade their mobile phones. Like many iPhone users who have Lightning charging lines in their homes, we will soon have cheap Qi charging plates.

At that time, the charging mode will begin to change, and no longer need larger batteries. Because if your smartphone can be charged several times a day, anywhere, anytime, you dont need a bigger battery. With Qi chargers cheap enough, our daily charging habits will change in the future. Because when you put your cell phone on the desk, on the coffee table when you watch TV, on the kitchen cabinet when you cook, or on the bedside cabinet before you go to bed, it can automatically charge. Charging will change from what you have to remember to do to what you can do without extra effort and thought, and most of the time your cell phone is not in your hand, pocket or bag.

Todays AirPods already has such functionality. AirPods can use five hours for a single charge, but if you put the battery in the charging box, it can actually use 24 hours. Without using AirPods, we can put them in boxes and keep them always full of electricity. With that in mind, we seldom hear about complaints about the need for larger batteries in AirPods itself. Imagine a smartphone. It doesnt need a charging cartridge, it needs a charging board, and you can have several of these charging boards at home.

Environmental wireless charging will become a fashion in the future

Indeed, the current wireless charging technology and the use of wire charging are not far apart, but the change of mentality is more important. When real wireless charging becomes a fashionable technology with good quality and low price, the change of charging mode will become more obvious.

This transformation will be completed with the development of environment wireless charging technology. Environmental wireless charging can charge all the devices in your home just like WiFi transfers the Internet to any device that can access the Internet. UBeam has launched a prototype of wireless charging for the environment, but there still seem to be many doubts about its viability, limitations and acceptability.

Obviously, we charge devices because they need energy to work, but that doesnt explain all our charging habits. An informal survey found that more than half of smartphone users charge their phones only once a day. But a fully charged cell phone makes people feel ready to deal with any emergency, such as power failure or a sudden run-out from home.

For many people, making smartphones, a tool that can be used almost indefinitely, serve as lifelines for themselves and friends, family and the world, recharge at any time and be ready to use for several hours, has become a necessary survival function for modern adults. Electric mobile phones can help us start our day with confidence and relax our brains, because it is unacceptable to find that mobile phones are running out of power.

However, even if the iPhone can be used for two days, we will still see people sitting on the floor next to the airport charging station at the airport. Even though mobile phones can be used without charging for several days, there are still some people who are worried about the lack of electricity. Maybe the problem is not the batteries, but ourselves. Making charging easier is a good way to extend battery life. We no longer need to always carry more batteries with us than we normally need until environmental charging technology makes charging really easy.

Until then, dont expect Apple to produce products that require more electricity than they reasonably need. Increasing the physical size of batteries may be the least elegant and least creative way to extend battery life, and Apples goal is to remain elegant and creative. Apples preferred approach on its mobile devices is to reduce power consumption through faster processors that dont need to run longer or hotter. The system uses an energy-efficient core on a chip to handle less demanding tasks and turns to less power-consuming display technologies, such as OLED screens on the iPhone X. Motivate their own battery technology, and use artificial intelligence and machine learning in the operating system to actively find ways to save electricity.

Apple has done so well in improving battery efficiency that the batteries of the iPhone 8 and 8Plus are 7% and 8% smaller than those of the iPhone 7 and 7Plus, respectively, while the battery life remains the same.

Apples design philosophy is that their products tend to get smaller, lighter and thinner over time. Its certain that if Apples design team can find a way to make the iPhone as thin as glass as we see on science fiction shows, while the batteries can still be used all day, they will. It will certainly be done at all costs. When environmental charging technology becomes a reality, ultra-thin mobile phones will become more likely, because batteries may become very small. If mobile phones can get electricity from the air as they receive data through LTE and WiFi, then batteries may even become unnecessary.

Although users dont require smartphones to be thinner, people really like the way they look thinner. Apple critics have described the slimmer iPhone as sexier, but its becoming increasingly impractical, especially if it limits battery life.

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Source: Editor in charge of knowledge: Qiao Junjing_NBJ11279