Every couple of weeks we inveterate news watchers– of real, presumed, and fake news– are treated with a news story that says future gadget batteries will last for weeks, months, years. Those future iPhone batteries will last for weeks or months before a recharge. Uh huh. Sure. And electric cars will be able to charge their batteries in minutes and then drive across the country on a single charge. Soon. Real soon.
Uh huh. Sure. I’m beginning to think that future iPhone battery advancements are as much unicorn as reality. Why? Because we’ve been treated to these news headlines and digital pablum for years and my iPhone’s battery– even though I use the phone for more than calls, take videos, listen to music, watch videos, and manage a few dozen apps that are always on and always phoning home– still lasts about a day.
The latest news headline comes from the team that developed the original lithium ion battery in modern gadgets, and they claim it can hold three times the power and charge in minutes, not hours.
I would be excited but I’ve hear that story before over the years and I’m sure battery technology has improved– for Apple more than Samsung apparently– but my devices still last about as long on a charge as they ever did.
It’s a credit to technology improvements that today’s smartphones and tablets can last all day, but wasn’t that about the same a decade ago? There was a notable improvement in lithium ion batteries for smaller, lightweight notebooks a few years ago; back when a Mac notebook’s battery would last about four or five hours. Then, thanks to smaller, energy sipping chips, and SSDs vs. cumbersome CD players and hard disk drives, notebook battery life hit as much as 10 hours. And there it has stayed. Except for the MacBook Pro, circa late 2016.
The new MacBook Pro is as Jekyll and Hyde as an electronic device can be. Sometimes it’s a struggle to coax four hours out of a full charge, and other times it just sits and does what I tell it for more than 10 hours.
Go figure. Batteries, so it would seem, have a soul and are fully sentient creatures that behave however the hell they want, up to and including suicide (Samsung devices, we’re all looking at you).
Al Williams In Hackaday:
Keywords used to describe the new battery are low-cost, noncombustible, long cycle life, high energy density, and fast charge and discharge rates. The pair is also claiming three times the energy density of a current lithium-ion battery. They also claim that the batteries recharge in minutes instead of hours.
How does it do that?
The battery relies on solid glass electrolyte. It also employs an alkali metal anode to realize increased energy density of the cathode. The electrolyte can operate down to -20 degrees C, which is unusual for a solid state battery.
So, what’s the problem?
We see a lot of stories about the next big breakthrough in batteries including some that are definitely suspect. Even the ones that seem legitimate, seem to make a big splash and then don’t always wind up in the marketplace. However, we would probably have thought that about the lithium-ion cell, too, and look where that wound up. If this battery lives up to its promise it could be a real game-changer for lots of electronic equipment.
Until I can see it in action and my iPhone lasts for days instead of a day, then it’s just another unicorn battery to chase and then forget about in a few days.