Why iPhone battery life will never last more than 1 day

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Your iPhone will always need to be recharged everyday.
Your iPhone will always need to be recharged everyday.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Every year Apple introduces a new iPhone, and every year I get my hopes up that this will finally be the model that can go two or three days without needing to be recharged. But according to a lithium-ion battery expert, the odds of Apple adding a power source capable of boosting iPhone battery life like that are practically zero.

Dee Strand, chief scientific officer at battery research firm Wildcat Discovery Technology, says the throughput on smartphone batteries is rapidly improving every year. The problem is, new features are bogging them down.

“I love this question,” Strand said yesterday during a reddit AMA, when asked when we’ll get multi-day battery life. “The answer is never.”

That doesn’t sound good for someone like me, who’s always longing for longer iPhone battery life.

“With every improvement in the battery, the cell phone company wants to add more features (and so do you),” Strand said. “Bigger screen, brighter display, more apps, touch screen features, etc. All those features are designed to work such that your phone can (hopefully) last a day with recharge overnight. The batteries will continue to get better, but the phone will continue to to get even better.”

New features will always hurt iPhone battery life

Essentially, batteries are always improving, just like CPUs, but not enough to outpace increasing power demands. With super-speedy 5G data on the way and an even bigger display possibly coming to the iPhone 7s or iPhone 8, those power demands are set to increase exponentially over coming years.

It would take a new type of battery altogether to make the charge last for multiple days. Apple has reportedly looked into other iPhone battery types, including fuel cells that burn clean energy. However, most alternatives that would boost iPhone battery life come with some serious drawbacks.

Apple could always add a chunkier lithium-ion battery to the iPhone, but that would take away from Cupertino’s seemingly unending quest for a thinner iPhone. And that’s just not Jony Ive’s style now, is it?

Via: TechInsider

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  • Carlos

    It’s not about new features. it’s that every year the iPhone has a smaller battery. Thank god they make the system more efficient so we still get the same battery time.
    For example, the iPad Air2 could have more than 10 hours of battery life, but no, they decided to make it thinner than the iPadAir1

  • Nicnacnic

    The next major leap in energy storage (or transmission) will change this restriction.

  • Disqusdmnj

    I don’t know one iPhone 6x owner who wouldn’t have preferred enough extra battery to eliminate the camera bump – the phone is thin enough as it is. A little more would have kept all the edges clean, allowed a little more battery, an maybe gotten us a full day’s use. The chase for better features is one thing, but the chase for thinner is getting ridiculous.

    • Tjosansa

      Well. I got iPhone 6+ and do notice how much slimmer my wifes iPhone 6 is. And its only 0,2 mm thinner.
      So, yeah, i want i thinner.

      • Frank Malloy

        Really? I don’t.

        This thing is so thin it’s hard to hold with a firm enough grasp and it always wants to slip out of my hand.

        I put a case on it just to make it thicker and feel more firm in the hand.

      • Richard Ludwig

        I do. My 6+ usually can go for a good two to three days. Granted, I’m not spending four hours on the phone every day and I use it more for e-mail, web, music, and photos than an actual phone…

      • Frank Malloy

        You’re lucky. Most of us aren’t that lucky.

      • Core Macro

        I agree wholeheartedly, when the iphone means I no longer have to bother buying razorblades then my life will be complete.
        iPhone the swiss iWatch of communication and bathroom devices.

      • DrMuggg

        I would rather take an mm in “punishment” av have two days of batt life.

        Hej på dig ditt gamla dragspel.

  • Diego

    Uhhh, my iPhone 6 plus lasts 2 days on battery, and even 3 if I try.

    • MR D

      Do you have friends?

      • Diego

        your point?

      • User

        Lol!

    • JimGramze

      Depends what you use it for. If I’m using it for things like games all day I might need to charge it 2 or 3 times in a day. If I just use for more traditional phone and PDA functions and reading before bed, it can last several days between charges.

    • Jamie

      That’s because your phone is basically a tablet

  • Prophet

    …not Jony Ive’s style? Did you forget the hump backed case already?

    • Kyle McNulty – Mclovin341

      the case is a life saver for me i must say, gives me a full day battery life when using this case.
      it is ugly and doesn’t feel that nice but better than competitors

  • Mohammed Sahib

    I tell you why: Apple’s obsession with thinner iPhone!

  • William LeVan

    I carry a power adapter and lighting cable with me. If it was a big deal I would just get a case that has a built in battery.

  • DCJ001

    “Why iPhone battery life will never hit more than 1 day”

    Translation: Battery technology is as good as it will ever be without the possibility of improvement!

    This is definitely not true.

  • Frank Malloy

    Yep, it’s certainly true with everyone I know. Not only does battery life suffer from the constant “diet” but sound quality from the speaker as well.

    But, Apple has no incentive to improve in this area unless their market share drops significantly.

    Motorola had a smartphone with two-day battery life due to a thicker case. So where’s Moto now? It’s sad.

    Blame the Apple arrogance of “You don’t know what you need. WE know what you need”.

    • Richard Ludwig

      My 6+ routinely gets 2+ days. I use more of the texting, web, email, music, and photo features than talk so I guess it’s a lot in how you use it.

      • Frank Malloy

        6+ has a bigger battery, which supports my point – I want that battery, but in the regular 6 screen size. All you have to do is make the phone a little bit thicker.

        I don’t need a razor thin phone, I really don’t!

  • digitaldumdum

    “Why iPhone battery life will never hit more than 1 day”

    The headline and the article are utterly ridiculous. Anyone who can’t get more than a day of use with any iPhone doesn’t know how to manage their device. Granted, a journalist, or someone else who absolutely needs to be fully “connected” all day might be exceptions. But for the rest of us, simply turning off even a few of the battery draining eye candy and “features” that Apple enables by default will easily gain an iPhone more battery life. Turn off even more battery suckers like push email and calendar changes (which most people simply do not require), and you’ll gain even more uptime between charges. Quit the Facebook app when not in use, and you’ll see another big jump. The list goes on and one.

    It is not reasonable—with current or foreseeable battery technology—that a powerful, feature-ladened, thin and light smartphone can deliver as much battery time as everyone would like (or thinks they need). Certainly use all the features you like, but do so at the expense of battery life. It’s a choice, not an iPhone design flaw.

    • Core Macro

      Thing is, with these devices with so many neat and fun features turning it all off kind of defeats the object. Surely it would just be logical to just make the phone thicker and increase battery life ‘while’ using these new touted features. Sometimes function over form is just more sensible.
      I do understand that pushing the envelope will bring future improvements but some things ought to stay in the developers laboratory.

      • digitaldumdum

        With respect, that doesn’t make much sense. When you buy a new LCD TV, the bass and treble are set high, the screen brightness and dynamic range are set high, and practically every other feature is set to be “on.”Do you leave them on because they are already on? Same with newer tech-enabled cars, computers, the Apple Watch and a limitless number of devices.

        Example: motion effect is enabled by default on the iPhone and iPad. It gives you that nice 3D effect when you tilt your home screen or lock screen back and forth. It’s cool… for about an hour… but it also uses up battery. If you like it, by all means keep it turned on, but with a power penalty. Same with many, many “neat and fun” features. iCloud Mail, Calendar and Contacts are all set to Push by default. How many people •really• need to receive every new notification as soon as it is sent? Maybe an attorney or doctor or a Senator. (Scratch Senator; they don’t do anything important.) But Push takes up a lot of battery in order for the phone to be constantly polling the cloud. If you set these apps to Fetch manually, then every time you open them they’ll retrieve new messages, calendar changes, etc.

        Screen brightness and flashlight are two other big battery drains. I guess if your eyesight is poor, or you constantly find yourself in dimly lit places, then screen brightness is important. But scaling it back even a little mades a huge difference in battery life. And some people use the flashlight for every little thing, even walking at night, or going up dark stairs. It’s handy, but a small keychain flashlight will do better, and not diminish your iDevice battery.

        So, yeah, I get you point that there are a lot of cool features. But even a fatter iPhone (which people generally do not want), would not solve the battery problem. There are just too many apps and features that use power, and given a bigger battery to deal with, developers will only create more. To have better battery life, simply try to do without some things for a while. You may be surprised at the results.

      • Core Macro

        You make fair points, I don’t think I’m into this thin at any cost attitude though. I’ve tried holding the iPhones that have come after the 5S and with my older and less nimble fingers just couldn’t hold them safely “put a case on it” yeah true. But defeats the object of the cool beautiful ‘thin’ iphone in my opinion. If I owned an iPhone 6 and up I’d want to enjoy the beauty of the device but they are too thin for me.

        I’ve just stayed with my 4S and it still does all I want, has had 1 new battery so should last another year or two and its chunkiness has more grip.

        Having turned off all the extraneous services you mentioned battery life is about a day, so I’m happy. I’ll no doubt end up upgrading at some point, I love Apple products so will see what the iPhone 7x brings to the iTable :-)

      • digitaldumdum

        I’m with you! I use an iPhone 5 (jailbroken on iOS 6.1.2). Totally stable and secure, lots of additional features due to jailbreaking, one new battery in three-and-a-half years, and I easily get more than a day, sometimes two. No Push notifications on, ever, and reasonable brightness. I use a Speck case. Very thin and protective. One day I’ll get a 6s, but not for a while. Oh, and I’m a man of some years myself. :) Cheers to you!

  • David Kaplan

    I would take iPhone 5 thickness and the same size displays we have now with 3 day battery life.

  • Stephen Bradley

    I already get two days out of my iPhone battery. I work all day, I don’t have time to spend it watching videos (which I don’t want to do on a phone-size screen anyway), reading Facebook, playing games, or whatever people are doing to drain their battery in the first 4 hours of every day.

    I run Waze to and from work, for traffic alerts, but it’s plugged in to the car. During the day I play music/white noise on headphones, use Scanner Pro to make PDFs a handful of times per week, take pictures of things I need to remember, answer the occasional iMessage/Skype/WhatsApp message, and check my stocks at breaks and lunch. Sometimes there’s a phone call.

    My daily usage brings me to about 70% battery power by bed time. I usually plug it in, since it’s on the nightstand as an alarm anyway, but if I don’t, it goes the entire next day too, losing about 5-8% over night.

    The two things I always find strange..how do people find the time to drain their battery in the course of a work day, or less? And why is plugging in your phone while you are asleep such an awful thing, that people are longing to not have to do it? I mean, if I plug my phone in every night or every other night..who cares..what’s the issue? I have to plug my PlayStation controller in every night after I use it too. And my Microsoft Band.

    • Richard Ludwig

      If you use your phone for work I can certainly see draining the battery faster. The days I get heavy use out of my phone (4 hour telephone conference, email, GPS, presentations, etc.) I can get down to 40-50% by the end of my day, but the only time my battery is drained is if I forget to charge it for a couple days. In fact, with my work 6+, if I’m only using it for e-mail and presentations and the occasional call (I.e. ‘Lite’ use), it can last a week.

      • Core Macro

        If you guys had a ‘real’ job like Buster Hein, then your phone would be smoking red hot and the battery drained before morning coffee and doughnuts ;-)

  • Luppel

    Todays smartphones are very interesting. With every new flagman you get more and more new things which are not needed but they never do better batteries. They are improving and improving all except the battery. They need to invent something new in this industry like other companies, for example NEUTRINO INC made batteries which are charging by themselves in seconds, cool isnt it? Its like you are using your phone in full steam and when you have low % of battery – you will have 100% of it in several seconds. Great isnt it?)
    That is in my opinion how this should be. I think Apple is not able to do better batteries with their technologies. They simply need something absolutely new like NEUTRINO batteries.

  • Rose Krueger

    That’s odd I get at least 2 days of battery life out of my iPhone and it’s coming up on 2 years old this fall. It has been great.

  • http://www.waynecaswell.com Wayne Caswell

    NEVER? Even with electronics getting 2x smaller, cheaper and faster every 2 years, following Moore’s Law?

    Note that the iPhone can execute machine instructions tens of thousands of times faster than the $3.5M IBM mainframe computer I worked on in the mid-1970s. I find it amazing that so much power now fits in my pocket, runs on batters at all, and has wireless access to global information at speeds once unheard of. At this pace, iPhone capacity will eventually shrink to the size of a blood cell, with battery life measured in years.

  • Matt Hone

    Thinner often means lighter. Not always, but often. For me, lightness is a critical factor (it is one of the reasons I’ve always liked the iPhone and not the Android competition like LG, HTC etc).

    I’ve got an iPhone 6, and my phone before that was an iPhone 5. Both feel just the right weight to me. My friends have Android phones and they feel like bricks in comparison. So, they could make a larger battery with a longer battery life, but it would probably make the phone heavier, which is the opposite of what I want. If they kept the battery size the same, but increased the life, they’d have to compromise the features and I don’t want that either.

    I’m good with 1 day battery life if it means a light phone.