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iPhone 5 rumor rollup for the week ending July 20

Apple iPhone 5 rumors include testing, assault on battery, mini-SIMs, the China card

By , Network World
July 20, 2012 10:10 AM ET
iPhone rumors

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"The final version of Apple's next iPhone -- the one that you will buy -- has not started production yet," Geller assures his readers, trusting the trusted source.

Rollup likes the late Ronald Reagan's understanding of trust: "Trust, but verify." Geller's version is: "Trust."

iPhone 5 faces battery life challenges

This is a fascinating bit of informed speculation at Forbes.com, by Noam Kedem, vice president of marketing for Leyden Energy, a Fremont, Calif.-based battery maker for consumer electronics, electric vehicles and storage applications.

In his post, Kedem notes the range of rumored features -- larger Retina display, 4G LTE wireless, a more powerful CPU -- that, together, "can end up drawing more power and generating more heat. Both of those are challenges for Li-ion [battery] technology." Li-ion, short for lithium-ion, is the type of battery used in the iPhone and many other devices.

"From my perspective, a fundamental problem is that while Apple can count on ever-increasing performance in the silicon involved, the lithium-ion batteries that power virtually all mobile devices are practically standing still: they use the same chemistry platform as they did 20 years ago," Kedem writes. "Absent a change in battery chemistry, Li-ion is going to impose some limitations on where Apple can go with the iPhone 5's design and spec sheet."

Facing the same challenges with the latest iPad, Apple made the new tablet's battery "some 70 percent bigger and heavier than its predecessor yet [it] still offers somewhat shorter battery life."

That option is more limited in the phone. "The iPhone 5 battery is going to have to be notably bigger than its predecessor," Kedem writes. "Even with the increase in battery's X and Y dimensions made possible by a larger screen, the result could still be shorter battery life -- in terms of run-time per charge, cycle life and calendar life."

The whole post is worth reading for its accessible technical explanation. Essentially, Kedem thinks Apple will continue in iPhone 5 the same approach to the battery as it uses in iPhone 4S, but trying to be as efficient as possible, and exploiting whatever advantages it can wring out with a slightly longer case, and possibly more internal room due to further component miniaturization.

"This is a necessity if Apple is to at least maintain [in iPhone 5] the same run-time per charge as the iPhone 4S, as I think they must," Kedem writes.

In the future, Apple may be able to exploit one patent for ways to pack more battery material into new spaces, such as the phone's bezel. And new advances in battery chemistry are emerging. One is Li-imide, "which doesn't generate hydrofluoric acid [a standard occurrence in Li-ion batteries] and thus delivers a dramatic improvement in thermal stability and battery life," Kedem writes. "It also permits effectively thinner batteries by eliminating most of the swelling in thickness characteristic of current Li-ion pouch cells over their useful life, which forces designers to sacrifice cavity space to accommodate the swelling."

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