Will Apple Win The Battery Wars?

Danielle Beurteaux

Apple’s next product reveal event has just been announced for September 9th. Predictions on 10190082395_a3a14bdf1acthe company’s new products mostly focus on iPhones. So will this be the year Apple cracks the battery conundrum?

One of the biggest concerns with the recently released Apple Watch was its battery life. Depending on who you ask, it is either just fine or terrible. The charge also depends on what the watch is doing at any point, so there’s a wide range.

Interestingly, the head of watch company Swatch, Nick Hayek Jr., recently said Swatch would be releasing a smartwatch by the end of this year, with a battery that lasts 9 months. Yes, that would be 9. Months. That’s up from the company’s previous goal of 6 months on a single charge. (He also threw in some disdain for Apple’s measly 24-hour battery life.)

Next up on the IoT checklist isn’t an amazing new wearable or life-changing device. It’s the battle for batteries—something so fundamental that they’re the key to what the next generation of devices will look like, how they’ll work, and if we’ll actually use them.

The race is on to invent the technology that will lead to a workable, replicable, high-efficiency battery that can be scaled for mass production.

Everyone, it seems, is getting in on batteries. Tesla, of course, has been investing in battery tech because that’s the basis of its product. And it seems to be working, by the way, because a Tesla Model S in Denmark lasted 452.8 miles on a single charge (yes, they were driving verrry slowly). Tesla is stepping up its battery game by building a $5 billion battery factory in Nevada.

Bosch just bought Silicon Valley battery startup Seeo, looking for access to the post-lithium generation of batteries.

Scientists have figured out a way to replace the graphite with aluminum in a conventional lithium-ion battery, leading to quicker charging and longer battery charges.

A firm in the U.K. called Intelligent Energy recently revealed a hydrogen-powered iPhone battery that’s thin enough to fit inside the existing phone case. The charge reportedly lasts a week — which sounds great, but there are questions.

Such as: Will consumers care? Some say yes — Lenovo’s new Moto X smartphones are being touted as the fastest-charging phones on the market. But Motorola’s Rick Osterloh told the BBC that the real breakthrough technology has yet to happen: “I don’t see anything very clearly right now that’s an obvious winner. But the good news is there’s a ton of entrepreneurial activity in the space.” He thinks that we’re quite a while off from a week-long charge. When a truly game-changing battery technology is created, he says, “everyone would benefit, and it wouldn’t just be phone industry. You’d see massive changes in everyone’s life, from cars to energy storage to a broad range of things.”

And whoever wins the battery race will dominate an enormous market — almost 1.5 billion smartphone units are predicted to ship this year. And surveys have shown that better batteries are on consumers’ wish lists. Battery development is the key to creating truly wearable — as in, you wear a device, it doesn’t wear you (down) — portable, creative technology.

 

 

 

 


Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.

Tags:

Apple , Wearables