Even the streets and highways have battery powered or battery supplemented cars, and more are on the way. Batteries are a fact of life. And it’s a fact of life that batteries seldom last as long as we want or need. What will it take to get an iPhone battery that lasts a week? Or, a month?
Leaps And Bounds
For about as long as I have been collecting gadgets that run on batteries there has been a growing promise that battery life is about to get much better. My original iPhone’s battery lasted about a day. My iPhone X’s battery lasts a bit longer, but usable for about a day before a recharge. I remember getting about four hours from a Mac notebook, and despite Retina displays and fewer moving parts, we’re barely up to eight to 10 hours of real world usage from Apple.
What happened to all those promises of better battery life?
This weekend I read another article highlighting improvements in lithium batteries. This one is the so-called lithium-air battery which should provide longer battery life– when it arrives. John Timmer explains what happens and what’s new:
Batteries supply electrons by undergoing reversible chemical reactions. That has meant that all the reactants have to be inside the battery, which adds to its weight and volume. Lithium-air batteries could potentially change that situation. At one electrode, they have pure lithium metal rather than a lithium-containing chemical. At the other, the lithium reacts with oxygen in the air. When the battery is charged, this reaction is reversed, and the oxygen is returned to our atmosphere.
In essence, the battery uses air as part of the chemical reactions and does not need to be as heavy. The problem? The chemical reactions are, well, severe, so the method lasts barely a month. What good is that?
Researchers has figured out a way to protect against many of these reactions and showed that the resulting battery can survive hundreds of charge/discharge cycles in an air-like atmosphere. Which probably means the researchers are ready to figure out what goes wrong when this material meets actual air.
You know what this means right?
More promise. More waiting. Less hope for a battery that will stay charged for a month (or, a week; I would take a week, wouldn’t you?).
This kind of thing seems to happen a few times a year. Someone comes up with new or modified technology that could make a mobile battery last 10 times current capacity, and then we never hear about it again.
Yes, I want a battery that lasts a month. If there is new technology on the horizon, then only scientists and researchers can see that horizon. I wonder how long an original iPhone would run by using a 2018 lithium ion battery? Wanna bet it’s about a day?