iPhone batteries could shrink again in 2021, but without battery life cuts

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iPhone 12 battery teardown
iPhone 13 could be first with new "soft board" battery tech.
Photo: iFixit

Apple will reportedly shrink iPhone batteries again in 2021 to make room for new technologies. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have to get used to charging more frequently.

Reliable TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects Apple to adopt new “soft board” battery technology for iPhone 13. It could allow more power to be squeezed into a smaller space.

iPhone 12 adopters are currently having to get used to the fact that their new smartphone has a smaller battery than its predecessor. Coupled with 5G, this means more regular charging is likely for most.

This could be a temporary compromise. Kuo predicts next year’s iPhone lineup will feature new battery technology, as well as more efficient components, that could allow battery life increases.

iPhone 13 could pack new battery tech

Jialianyi, one Apple battery supplier, could see revenue grow by 100% year-on-year as Apple snaps up new soft board batteries for iPhone 13, Kuo writes in a new research note.

“Jialianyi is expected to obtain about 40-50% of orders for battery soft boards for iPhone 13 and 13 mini,” it reads. “We predict that iPhone 13 will be the first iPhone model to adopt battery soft board technology.”

Soft board batteries typically feature fewer layers than the batteries packed into iPhone today. This allows more capacity to be squeezed into the same space. But will Apple opt for greater battery life?

Apple could instead choose to offer the same battery life, but with thinner battery cells. This would make room for other components, or allow iPhone 13 to be thinner than today’s models.

More efficient components

Alongside new soft board batteries, iPhone 13 will pack more efficient components, according to a separate report from The Elec. Its display alone could use 10-20% less power than iPhone 12 screens.

It’s also safe to assume, based on previous processor upgrades, the next-generation A15 chip will be more efficient than this year’s A14. All these things could help extend iPhone usage in between charges.

It could also mean we finally see an iPhone with an always-on display, as other reports have predicted.