Rumor: Apple’s secret partnership with Intelligent Energy to boost iPhone battery performance

iOS 7 (battery empty 001)

Rumor has it that Apple has secretly partnered with a British fuel-cell firm called Intelligent Energy on deploying its fuel cells in electronic devices such as MacBooks, iPhones and iPads within a few years.

Intelligent Energy’s technology converts chemical energy from fuel stored in the cells into electricity.

The technology could potentially allow future iPhones and iPads to run on a single charge for days or even weeks. As a bonus, the process is green and highly efficient…

British tabloid Daily Mail points to Intelligent Energy patent filings revealing the company bought a bundle of patents from battery firm Eveready in December last year, in tandem with a “major international electronics company”.

This has Apple written all over it, the publication claimed:

It has kept the identity of its partner a closely-guarded secret. But a source, who has knowledge of the partnership, confirmed that Apple is the big name working with the Loughborough-based firm.

If the British firm can become Apple’s chosen partner in a great leap forward for energy-efficient devices, it could be catapulted into the ranks of global technology players.

It’s interesting the UK firm recruited former Apple product specialist Joe O’Sullivan to its board as chief operating officer and recently opened an office in San Jose, down the road from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Apple’s own patent filings reveal the firm has been researching fuel cell-powered MacBooks and smartphones. One of the patent filings submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office last summer promises to “eliminate the need for a bulky and heavy battery” by using a hydrogen fuel cell to convert hydrogen and oxygen into water and electrical energy.

The hydrogen-cell technology is being used as a power source for cleaner cars such as Tesla’s vehicles. Coincidentally or not, Apple apparently considered buying Tesla. CEO Elon Musk acknowledged that discussions did take place, but stopped short of providing the specifics.

As Bloomberg speculated, pundits think Apple was after Tesla’s new battery plant, which it is calling the Gigafactory, or a potential partnership in that regard.

Here’s Musk talking battery technologies with an iPhone engineer.

For what it’s worth, Apple is among the biggest buyers of batteries along with Tesla.

I’m not really sure why Apple would leak this information to a tabloid or how Daily Mail learned about Apple’s plans. That being said, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish the rumor because I think it’s relevant in light of Samsung’s ‘wall huggers’ ad which ridicules the iPhone’s battery performance.

On a similar note, various surveys all seem to point to a longer battery life being the #1 feature request by iPhone users of all stripes.

Is a longer-lasting battery your #1 iPhone feature request as well?