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Mobile Tech

Battery Woes Haunt Some Apple iPhone 5s Users

Battery Woes Haunt Some Apple iPhone 5s Users
October 30, 2013 12:07PM

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There's an absence of details about the manufacturing issue that is putting the squeeze on the batteries in some Apple iPhone 5s devices. And there's also an absence of details on the exact number of phones affected by the battery-draining problem, although Apple "implies" that it is only a few thousand.

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Battery draining issues? You are kidding. Has the iPhone 5s not had enough problems? Is there more trouble to haunt this new member of the iPhone dynasty?

Apple launched the iPhone 5s on September 10, as the most forward-thinking iPhone yet and the world’s first smartphone with 64-bit desktop-class architecture for blazing fast performance in the palm of your hand.

But after the initial excitement came complaints that motion sensors were off, not to mention complaints about frustrating screen crashes and reboots. Now comes accounts of disappointing battery life, as first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday.

Here is the news. The iPhone 5s has a "manufacturing issue" that, for some iPhone 5s users results in reduced battery performance and could cause longer charging times.

“We recently discovered a manufacturing issue affecting a very limited number of iPhone 5s devices that could cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life,” said an Apple spokesperson responding to The New York Times. “We are reaching out to customers with affected phones and will provide them with a replacement phone.”

"Limited Number"

Apple is hardly an open source bastion, and it is not clear what the “manufacturing issue” is all about, in turn there is no hard information on what kind of “issue” could render the batteries problematic. Brian Chen, who authored The New York Times article, took care to point out that "a manufacturing issue is not the same as a defective battery, which some users thought was the problem with their phones."

An absence of details on what the manufacturing issue could be is accompanied by an absence of details on the exact number of people affected. Apple only referred to “a limited number” but The New York Times said the statement from Apple "implies" that it is only a few thousand devices.

Apple watchers observed that since Apple has chosen to reach out to affected customers rather than posting an alert on its site suggests the number is indeed small.

Consumers generally regard the life of batteries as an important consideration when choosing mobile devices. Apple’s specs for the iPhone 5s provided a favorable outlook, with up to 10 hours of battery life on talk time and 250 hours of standby time.

More Juice, Please

Apple is not alone as a smartphone vendor with battery performance headaches. Apple stated that the trouble affecting batteries is a manufacturing issue. In general, however, problems concerning battery drain are not unusual on smartphones. Techies have seen the writing on the wall for some time, pointing out that more powerful phones with richer features take a toll on battery juice.

What is more, smartphone producers use lithium-ion polymer batteries that may be reaching their theoretical limits when it comes to power storage. Apple's page about lithium-ion batteries has noted that “rechargeable lithium-based technology currently provides the best performance for your Apple notebook computer, iPod, iPhone, or iPad. You can also find this standard battery technology in many other devices.”

Lithium-ion batteries power nearly every portable device today but, according to California Lithium Battery (CalBattery), the demand that the devices place on their power sources "has increased a thousand-fold in the last quarter century, but battery energy density/capacity has only tripled."

A huge market opportunity presents itself, as a result, for companies to develop advanced materials required to improve the life cycles of lithium-ion batteries. CalBattery, focused on developing and commercializing battery materials, systems, components, and cells, is one of those companies aiming to push the envelope.

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