iPhone 5: On Thinness and Battery Life

Two predominant iPhone 5 rumors are converging: a thinner form factor and improved battery life. How will Apple manage to improve battery life with a thinner form factor and more powerful processor on the iPhone 5?

Given the lack of a new form factor on the iPhone 4S, nearly everyone in the tech community expects a redesigned look and feel to the iPhone 5 in 2012. And historically speaking, the two ways that Cupertino likes to improve and change form factors are by making mobile devices smaller and/or thinner. Our own reliable source has already heard that the iPhone 5 will most definitely sport that 4″+ screen that many have been pining for, and a thinner form factor.

At the same time, battery life has also become a prescient issue for the iPhone, especially considering that Apple decided to upgrade the processor and other power-draining features on the iPhone 4S, but left its battery unchanged. For as much as design enhancements are on the menu for the iPhone 5, so too are more yeoman features like a longer battery life.

It is here, where a thinner form factor and longer battery life meet, that Apple could face a daunting task of marrying these two features together on the iPhone 5.

AppleBitch goes so far as to say that Apple cannot reconcile the two. In her new piece, “Don’t Bet On A Dramatically Thinner iPhone 5,” she argues that “can Apple incorporate 4G into an iPhone and yet shrink the device to the dimensions seen on some mockups, while maintaining a useable battery life?  I don’t know about you, but I use my iPhone very heavily and there isn’t much juice left at the end of the day.  While the thought of a thinner iPhone may engender tingly feelings in many a user, the thought of a lower battery life isn’t as appealing.”

But the Apple Bitch is hedging her bets a bit in this argument, since the adverb “dramatically” is one that has rarely qualified Apple form factor upgrades. The iPad 2, after all, is thinner from the first iPad, and yet one might not be inclined to consider it a “dramatic” change.

She also manages to contradict herself, by highlighting the battery benefits of what will be the iPhone 5‘s next-generation processor. She remarks that “However, last month Qualcomm released a new generation of 3G/LTE chipsets (codenamed Gobi 4000) which are a new generation of low-power communications chip which can potentially offer manufacturers the ability to incorporate LTE/HSPA+ and LTE/EV-DO into their devices.”

To be sure, the processor/chipsets will be exactly what Apple will leverage in order to fit better battery life and performance into a thinner form factor. It seems clear from what we’ve heard that the 2011 iPhone 5 was stymied by a flaw in its processor; there’s no doubt that higher performance using lower energy will be the focus for the 2012 iPhone 5.

Let’s also not forget that Cupertino has invested copious amounts of money and resources into developing rechargeable battery technologies.

My guess is that, in addition to a better-performing processor for the iPhone 5, we will also see a revamped rechargeable battery in order to accommodate a thinner form factor.

I will be sure to keep my eyes and ears open on any reports about new battery technology for the iPhone 5.



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