Could Apple Inc.'s iPhone 6 Be Lacking on This Important Feature?

As consumers continue to use smartphones more frequently and for more power hungry tasks, battery life is a key focus for smartphone manufacturers. Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iPhone 5s, however, is notably lagging behind the battery life many of its peers boast. Even the older Samsung Galaxy S4 outperforms the iPhone 5s on most battery life tests. Even worse, Apple still may only make modest improvements to iPhone battery life with the iPhone 6, according to a new report from G4Games.

Can Apple pull it off?
Citing various media reports in China, G4Games says that a new rumor points to a battery life of anywhere between 1,800-1,900 mAh for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and around 2,500 mAh for the phablet-like 5.5-inch iPhone 6.

MacRumors renderings, by Ferry Passchier, of the alleged 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch sixth generation iPhone lineup. Photo used with permission.

Considering the 1,570 mAh battery that powers the iPhone 5s and 5c, the improved power for the iPhone 6 may sound like a satisfactory jump at first. After all, that's about an 18% boost to battery power for the smaller iPhone 6 and a 60% jump for Apple's rumored phablet.

But lighting up those bigger screens is a draining task. As G4Games notes, the 5.5-inch LG G3 boasts a 3,000 mAh battery. And Samsung's 5.7-inch Galaxy note sports a 3,200 mAh battery.

Still, there is a chance that Apple's battery life for these larger iPhones could break-even or even exceed most competition. Fortunately, battery life isn't all about battery power. It's also about energy conservation. In Apple's seemingly relentless quest to make its devices thinner and sleeker, you can bet energy conservation is a key focus for the company. As The Motley Fool semiconductor industry expert Ashraf Eassa says, "If you can't get more power, use less!"

The quest for battery conservation mostly comes in two forms: (1) semiconductor innovation and (2) improved power management from the operating system. Apple is known on both fronts to be quite productive. In OS X, for instance, Apple often sets the standard on power management. In iOS, Apple's in-house and Arm-licensed system on a chip, or SoC, architecture provides power efficiently considering the SoCs performance.

But even if Apple pulls off meaningful improvements in battery conservation in the iPhone 6, the allegedly sleeker profile of the company's next-generation smartphone lineup could put too much limitation on battery sizes for the company to become a trendsetter in mobile phone battery life.

Consumers care about battery life
Several recent surveys suggest battery life will be an important factor in purchasing decisions for the iPhone 6.

One study by RBC Capital Markets (via MacRumors) found that the main driving factor behind potential sales of the iPhone 6 was battery life, getting 33% of the votes among other features like larger screen size, an improved processor, and a better camera.

A survey by coupon site WalletHero had similar conclusions. Among the 1,500 who were asked the question (which allowed for multiple answers), "What Features/Changes Would Make You Purchase the New iPhone?" battery life was the most popular response, with 97% of respondents saying it would be a feature that would help convince them to by the phone.

Apple's biggest competitor, Samsung, knows how important battery life is to consumers. That's why it recently unveiled a new marketing campaign aimed at the iPhone's relatively worse battery life than its Samsung Galaxy S5.

Will Apple be able to deliver on this important feature with the iPhone 6? A sleeker design that allegedly limits battery power will require Apple to make significant progress in battery conservation in order to impress consumers.

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  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2014, at 4:25 PM, vernr75 wrote:

    Finally! Somebody notices the big elephant in the room...

    I've been saying this very thing for most of the year. The iPhone battery life has not improved since the iPhone 4 and battery life has been the number one complaint of iPhone users since then. Tests on these phones confirm this.

    Instead of addressing the issue, the iPhone has been getting thinner and thinner for purely cosmetic reasons at the expense of internal space that would have allowed for a significant increase in battery capacity. The battery capacity increased only moderately between iPhone 4 and 5S, but the battery life stayed the same because the increase gained by improving efficiency was only enough to compensate for the increased drainage of the newer more power-hungry processors. When Apple switched from their 32bit A6 in the iPhone 5 to 64bit A7 found in the 5S, the power drainage from fixed point operations went from 485mA to 1100mA. Basically, Apple's internal chip design team is now falling behind companies like Qualcomm when it comes to innovations in power efficiency. Apple's M7 co-processor, which helps preserve battery life by processing all the sensory data, is nothing in comparison to the intricate multi-coprocessor arrangement used in the Motorola phones. You can see this on the latest tests done on recent Android devices. They're all leaving the iPhone behind in battery life...and that's while still running the Dalvik runtime. It's not just the high end phones...many low cost phones including the Moto G are now running rings around the iPhones in battery life too. Even the Motorola larger screens use significantly less power (2.5X less) than the iPhone 5S smaller screens.

    Once Android goes fully to ART, there will be no catching Androids in the battery life department if these are the capacities that Apple will be using for the next year. Instead, what we will see is large screen iPhones with the same battery life as the smaller screen iPhones and they will be competing with phones that offer more than twice the battery life at similar or larger screen sizes. Once folks get used to more battery life, they're going to notice immediately when they switch to an iPhone and it doesn't provide it.

  • Report this Comment On July 09, 2014, at 3:44 AM, McBobb wrote:

    And yet I doubt they will care.

    People choose their smartphone on several criteria, and though they may lament the shorter battery life of their iPhones, I don't know anyone with one who'd give it up for a different phone with a longer battery life. It's good enough, and if it isn't they can charge in the car, airport, at work, etc. Or buy a portable power pack if they can't.

    Whatever, they work around its shortcomings because they love it. Their customer's love them, one of many reasons why I own shares in Apple, even though I don't use an iPhone.

    The elephant has left the room.

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