The Race to Develop Better Smartphone Batteries

A visitor uses smartphone during the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the telecom industry's biggest annual gathering, in Barcelona on February 26, 2024. The world's biggest mobile phone fair throws open its doors in Barcelona with the sector looking to artificial intelligence to try and reverse declining sales. Josep LAGO / AFP
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Barcelona is abuzz with excitement as the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the industry’s largest annual show, kicks off. Smartphone manufacturers are showcasing their latest innovations, and one area that has captured the attention of consumers is battery technology. With the increasing demand for faster charging and longer battery life, device makers are racing to develop more potent batteries that can meet these requirements.

The need for better-performing batteries is evident as consumers grow tired of constantly having to plug in their phones. Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester Research, explains, “All manufacturers are looking to have better-performing batteries. There is a sense that it is an area that is lagging behind, that we have to move forward.” In a market where smartphone models have become increasingly similar, a better battery is a way for manufacturers to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd.

While there have been advancements in battery technology since the introduction of smartphones in the 2000s, such as wireless charging, there is still significant room for improvement. The rise in power-hungry applications like gaming and social media has fueled the demand for mobile batteries with high capacity. This demand, coupled with the soaring prices of rare materials like lithium, cobalt, and manganese used in lithium-ion batteries, has prompted manufacturers to explore alternative options.

Chinese handset maker Honor has taken a step forward with its new AI-infused flagship Magic 6 smartphone. It boasts a higher capacity battery technology that uses silicon carbon, allowing it to fully charge in less than 40 minutes and outlast its competitors. The battery has earned the top spot in a ranking compiled by Dxomark, a commercial website that scientifically assesses handsets. As AI features consume more energy, a powerful battery life is essential, as highlighted by Honor CEO George Zhao at the phone’s global launch in Barcelona.

Samsung, a major competitor of Honor, is reportedly developing a solid-state battery that offers higher energy storage, faster charging, and enhanced safety. The company plans to launch this innovative battery in 2027. Meanwhile, Apple, which recently surpassed Samsung as the world’s leading smartphone seller, is also investing in its own battery technology. South Korean newspaper ET News reports that Apple aims to introduce its battery designs into mobile devices by 2025.

Traditionally, battery manufacturing has been outsourced, but device makers are now seeking to reduce their dependency on certain suppliers, similar to what they are doing with chips. This shift is driven by the desire for greater control over the supply chain and the need for more sustainable and durable batteries.

In a surprising development, Chinese startup Betavolt Technology unveiled a nuclear battery that could potentially power a smartphone for an astounding 50 years without the need for recharging. This groundbreaking technology miniaturizes atomic energy, placing nickel-63 isotopes into a module smaller than a coin. While the company did not provide a timeline for mass production, it is currently in the pilot testing stage.

Advancements in smartphone battery technology are not only driven by consumer demand but also by legislative requirements. In June, the European Union parliament approved new rules to make batteries more sustainable. These regulations impose minimum levels of recycled content and durability standards, ensuring that batteries are environmentally friendly and long-lasting.

The race for better smartphone batteries is in full swing, with manufacturers striving to create batteries that charge faster and last longer. As consumers become increasingly reliant on their smartphones for various activities, having a reliable and long-lasting battery is crucial. With ongoing research and development, we can expect to see even more exciting advancements in smartphone battery technology in the coming years.

Source: The Manila Times

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