Double-capacity batteries loom, get ready for even thinner Apple gadgets

By , Aug 19, 2016

SolidEnergy Systems, MIT’s commercial spin-off, has managed to create a technology which promises to double the capacity of standard lithium-ion batteries used in today’s gadgets without increasing the size of the battery module.

The trick involves a simple tweak of existing technology that can be incorporated into existing production lines, theoretically bringing twice the battery power to our pockets from 2017.

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t hold your breath for an iPhone with 2x stronger battery. Given Apple’s focus on thinness, thinner iPhones with the same or marginally better run time as existing models are much more likely.

The substantial breakthrough the scientists have made involves replacing the graphite anode with a lithium metal foil, which is denser yet “several times thinner and lighter” than traditional lithium metal, graphite, carbon or silicon anodes.

The invention holds twice the battery power versus existing solutions and is also safer due to a novel electrolyte keeping the battery from heating up and catching fire.

In addition to mobile gadgets, this technology is likely to make a big difference in electric cars by doubling their range and making them more sellable to the general public.

SolidEnergy Systems’ CEO Qichao Hu said:

Industry standard is that electric vehicles need to go at least 200 miles on a single charge. We can make the battery half the size and half the weight, and it will travel the same distance, or we can make it the same size and same weight, and now it will go 400 miles on a single charge.

That about sums it up the best way possible.

What do you think, will Apple implement this technology to engineer an even thinner iPhone with the same battery life or one with twice the battery power than today’s handsets without making it any slimmer?

Image: SolidEnergy Systems’ twice as energy-dense battery, at far right.

Source: MIT via Gizmodo

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  • cdlenfert

    Not to sound overly cynical, but if this is like every other battery story I’ve read for the last couple years, we won’t actually see it implemented. I’d love to see it happen, and in my opinion a thinner iPhone isn’t necessary at all unless you want it in a thicker case while maintaining pocket-ability. A thinner Apple watch that last more than a day, I’d be down for that though!

    • omakad

      I’m with you on this one. They all promise commercial use, but then nothing. I’ll believe it when I see it. One can hope.

    • Jayy

      I’m still watching on that battery that can be fully changed in 30 sec that this Indian girl invented!!

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        Which Indian girl?

      • Jayy

        I don’t know her name, but I know she invented tech that can fully charge cellphone batteries in about 30-40 sec.

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        Wow!! Bet the batteries got barbecued.

      • Jayy

        Yeah I don’t know the flaws behind this tech, but it seems to work fine!

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        Good, BTW what are your current UI tweaks?

      • Jayy
      • Agneev Mukherjee

        So you still have Dominion iOS 9 installed…

      • Jayy

        I actually just switched back to Dominion iOS 9. I want a new look, but until I find something that’s perfect in terms of layout, theme and wallpaper. I’ll have to stick with Dominion iOS 9

  • techfreak23

    Apple needs to stop trying to make devices thinner at this point and start worrying about increasing battery life, not shooting for the same lame standard of 10 hours

    • Y2J

      And I don’t even get near 10 hours of use

    • Rowan09

      Increasing battery life is more than just slapping in a bigger battery. My S7 Edge has a bigger battery than my iPhone 6S plus but I get the same if not better battery out of my iPhone and it’s my daily driver.

      • Rolf Bause

        Of course, OS efficiency is important – and Apple was always good at that.
        But still, if you slam in a battery with twice the capacity, you will end up with twice the battery life, it’s as simple as that.
        There is really no point in making the devices thinner anymore imo, but there is one in increasing battery life.

      • Rowan09

        Battery efficiency is a top priority of every manufacturer. Putting in a 3700 or 5800 mAh battery would mean a trade off in terms of design and weight.

      • Rolf Bause

        Doubling was just a hypothetical of course. But at the moment, – Apple is putting in a lousy 1700 mAh battery into the 6S – which is absolutely ridiculous for a 4,7incher imo.
        What the hell would be wrong with putting in a 2300-2500 mAh battery for christ sake? I think, that is something I can expect from a manufacturer that charges 700 bucks for the device. But apparently I’m rather supposed to buy one of their ugly ass smart battery cases for 120 bucks on top, it’s just insane.
        Honestly, I’ve had it with the iPhone. My next phone will be something else…

      • Rowan09

        Lol. I understand your frustration hence why I buy the 6S Plus and not the smaller brother. The bigger the phone the larger the battery.

      • Christopher Lim

        And also with the “bigger” price tag.

      • Rowan09

        Yes you pay more for the S7 Edge over the S7, you also pay more the Note 7 over the S7, so that’s how they make more money.

      • Rolf Bause

        Yeah, the thing just is: I honestly can justify these prices less and less. If you take the OnePlus: It has 6gb (yes, six!) of ram, 5,5″ amoled, a 3000 mAh battery ;-), fast charging, 64 gigs of storage, solid 16mp camera, aluminium unibody – all for 399 bucks.
        I think I could at least expect similar specs for over 700 bucks, couldn’t I? But then they also have to be a pain in the ass with their storage options, it just goes on and on. And why, – only because they are Apple? They are so full of themselves by now. Yes, I prefer iOS – but Android definitely isn’t the end of the world anymore, I’m sure I can adapt 🙂
        Apple is just decelerating innovation by purpose, only so they can sell you almost the same thing a year later. And that is something that just doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) fly in an economy, that is so innovation driven, imo. People shouldn’t allow them to keep doing that… They are living off their success the last (at least 4-5 years) now and they will land even harder because of it. It’s really sad that they turned in such a greedy company over last years, I mean they always were, but at least they had the undoubtably best product.
        What they really need are a few bad quarters, maybe this will bring them to their senses 😉

      • Rowan09

        The One Plus strategy is totally different than Apple, Apple cannot follow their strategy and neither can Samsung, LG, HTC, etc. There’s a reason One Plus devices don’t go on discount for a while because they would be operating at a loss. The One Plus upgraded the internals, camera, add fast charging, etc just like Apple upgrades every year, HTC, Samsung, etc. Why does anyone need 6GB of RAM on a phone is beyond my understanding. Apple is doing what it’s suppose to do upgrade gradually, look at see what will happen to Samsung next year. They introduced the edge devices and now they’re thinking of a flexible phone. They are going to have a bad year next year unless they figure out a new way to use your phone. I have a S7 Edge and while its an ok phone, it’s not a beast like the reviews claim. There’s a reason the iPhone has one of if not the best processor every year.

      • Rolf Bause

        I am not saying they have to follow their strategy, where did I say that? – Apples strategy once was: flagship hardware, best software – for a premium price. Fine by me.

        But nowadays it’s more like: way below average hardware with (somewhat argueably) best software still for a premium price and ridiculous upgrade options. It doesn’t add up for me anymore.

        I wasn’t even talking about the cpu, they are more than sufficient on all devices by now. But I honestly don’t care if I need the 6 gigs of ram or not, if all the competition is putting in 3gb and more by now, I can expect them to do something similar. And please don’t start me off with the better ram efficiency of iOS and whatnot – that all may be right and true. But fact is: You can never have enough ram, it sure as hell won’t slow anything down to have more of it (for browser tabs etc.), and the same thing is even more true for storage: and Apple is fcking us with both of it. I’ve actually just looked it up now, a 6 Plus with 64gb is more like 950 bucks 😀 Why aren’t they offering a 32gb option? Because noone wants a 32gb device? No, because they know exactly that 16gb is not enough for most and 64gb is the next option!
        And I, as a customer, quite frankly don’t have to keep up with this nonsense any longer, only to maximize their profits. It’s not my job to save them as much money as possible on the parts. They still think they are the only ones that can build a decent phone… and the whole competition is a lot more reasonable than they are, because no other company on this planet can pull this kind of BS.

      • Rowan09

        Not true because the S7 Edge cost the same price as a 16GB and the Note 7 is even more expensive. HTC phones are expensive, etc. It does make any sense to just adding too much RAM what’s the purpose? They have Octa-core S7 and it doesn’t make it much faster or faster than the quad core devices. Apple and it’s internals are fine and so is its hardware. We already know they are going to upgrade to OLED, etc. You can purchase any phone you like but I’ve been around with many devices and I always use my iPhone as my daily driver. I like my S7 Edge as well, but I couldn’t see myself using it alone.

      • Rolf Bause

        Please, let’s leave the CPUs out of it. It doesn’t matter much by now and it’s very hard to even reasonably compare them. And I actually even think Apple is doing quite a good job there with the AX chips. There they can gladly shine with efficiency and battery life and whatnot.
        But when it comes to RAM, of course it will be faster than flash storage (at least until Intel comes around with this new technology, that will somewhat combine the two…). There are many purposes: you don’t have to close stuff, you could load the whole OS into the RAM, you could create a ramdisk…

      • Rowan09

        I understand but 6Gb is overkill for a mobile phone that does the same thing as phones with 4Gb. No need currently for 6GB of RAM on an Android just like there’s no need for a Octa-core.

      • Rolf Bause

        Yeah, but in contrast to that all the iPhones come with a max. of 2gb. Even the iPhone 7 will probably ship with 2 (the 6+ maybe will get 3, we will have to see). And that’s exactly what I’m talking about: These are below average specs.

      • Shadowelite123

        I have the OnePlus 3 and the battery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I can barely go a full day without going down to 20%. This is without all the cellular data and other wireless connections on. My OP3 is dead by noon if not sooner.

      • Rolf Bause

        Same thing as on my iPhone I would say 🙂 Only that I can’t charge that to 60% in 30 minutes 😉
        Is it really staying as cool as they say, while charging btw? I’m really hardly thinking about buying one of these, if the build quality is proper.

      • Rowan09

        The S7 has fast charging and it does charge fast but I don’t know about the time they advertise. I put my iPhone 6S Plus to charge and S7 Edge to charge at the same time and the S7 finished only 10 minutes before the iPhone with both at 40%. The iPhone trickle charges at a certain point to prolong battery life

      • Rolf Bause

        Yeah, but I actually wanted to know about the OnePlus from the other guy…

      • Shadowelite123

        Well aside from the poor battery life, I never really cared for the fast charging as I only usually charge at night and it’s not really a big deal for me. It’s cool, but I feel it’s limited. I would rather stick to my jailbroken iPhone than the OP3 to be honest. I wish it could do more but many of the customization apps for launchers and other stuff don’t work well. I’d have to try rooting to see what options I have from there although it probably won’t do much. Perhaps OxygenOS just can’t compare to cyanogen mod

  • Jamessmooth

    Everyone: yay two times the battery power!
    Apple: yay two times thinner!

    • Shinonuke

      I would love to have both. Having twice battery life is cool. I also like a thinner iPhone so I can put in a touch case without it being much bigger or heavier

  • ericesque

    I know Apple wouldn’t entertain the idea of a removable battery, but the real win for smartphones would be halving the battery size and using some of that space to make batteries easily user replaceable.
    With fast charging we don’t necessarily need all day battery life anymore, but the drawback is shorter battery lifespans. However, if users can swap them out easily, that drawback is eliminated.

    • Shadowelite123

      Until you forget your spare battery at home.

  • Franklin Richards

    Apple doesn’t need to make their devices thinner. But then I guess at this point making things thinner is all they are good at design wise. Pretty sure people are more wowed by how long a phone can last than how thin it is.

  • n0ahcruz3

    Ask apple about bigger battery and they’re gonna be like “what’s a bigger battery?” Lol

  • Just our monthly battery technology breakthrough thread guys. Nothing new here.

  • mickey

    How thin can they get? Seems like we are approaching the limit of durability and thinness at least with the current phone materials. I’m hoping other companies don’t fall into the ultra thin trend and stay with battery capacity. I doubt apple would settle with thinness if a competitor (i.e. Samsung) had double the capacity.

  • Daniel Maia

    Yay ! Another innovative battery breakthrough that we’ll never hear about again!

  • ck125

    Manufacturers will make batteries even smaller and claim the same battery life.

  • Leslie B

    If Jony Ive maintains his asinine belief that a longer lasting battery would ruin the user experience, maybe we can at least look forward to smaller cases with additional capacity built into them. Maybe even an Apple case that doesn’t remind us of Quasimodo.

  • hkgsulphate

    camera bump. camera bump everywhere

  • LionsRoar

    I want 2x the battery life!!! that will get me to switch! otherwise I’m sticking to my old iPhone until then.. can’t understand why the need to make them so thin.. how far are they going? until it gets paper thin? Gawd! Oh, and Jony/Tim if youre watching, PLEASE put a strip of rubber at the side edges!! I hate hate hate phones that feel like a slippery bar of soap and I have to put cases on your phones to prevent dropping them!