Fat battery pack accessories may soon be a thing of the past. Scientists at Northwestern University are tweaking lithium-ion batteries to last 10 times longer and charge 10 times faster than the battery technology used today, BBC reported recently. Better yet, the new tech could be on the market in just 5 years. Oddly enough, it appears that poking “millions of minuscule holes” that are just 20-40 nanometers wide, and changing the movement and density of lithium ion cells, helps to add battery life and speed up the charging process. A prototype phone battery in Northwestern’s labs can be fully charged in just 15 minutes and it lasts an entire week on a single charge, BBC said. Dr. Harold Kung, the lead scientist on the project, explained that the speed and density of lithium ions can be changed using different materials during the battery’s manufacturing process. “Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today,” Dr. Kung said. Unfortunately, battery life begins to decline quickly after about 150 charges with the technology in its current state. More →
Apple has already released two beta versions of its iOS 5.0.1 software to developers, but now it is beginning to seed the software update to several end users through AppleSeed as well. The update is expected to offer improvements to the Siri voice engine and should address issues many users have been having with battery life. Participants who choose to test the new iOS build will not be able to revert to an earlier version after upgrading, but they will be able to upgrade to the final patch when Apple releases it in the next few weeks. Read on for more. More →
We have seen a number of reports suggesting that the Apple iPhone 4S has a software bug that has resulted in poor battery life. iDownloadBlog says that adjusting the time zone settings on the iPhone might help alleviate the issue. Reportedly, a bug within iOS 5 forces the phone’s location tracking feature to remain active far more than it should, which in turn drains the phone’s battery too quickly. Users can manually turn off the automatic time zone setting by navigating to Settings > General > Date & Time and toggling “Set Automatically” to “Off.” Other users, however, have suggested that the time zone function has nothing to do with the poor battery life, which has left some people fighting to squeeze more than just a few hours of battery life from their iPhone. Apple has yet to release an official patch to address those with poor battery performance, but we suggest adjusting your time zone settings to see if that helps in the meantime. In our independent tests, we’ve found that disabling the setting does improve battery life to some degree, though none of our units were as bad as many users are reporting even with the setting enabled. More →
The crew at iFixit has given the iPhone 4S its proper tear-down, revealing the phone’s inner workings and hardware. iFixit noticed that the battery offers an extra 0.5 WHrs over the one found in the iPhone 4, which is likely the reason Apple is able to advertise an additional 1-hour of 3G talk time on the iPhone 4S compared to its predecessor. The phone is equipped with a Qualcomm RTR8605 radio, an Avago ACPM-7181 power amplifier and of course a dual-core 1GHz Apple A5 processor, which has been downclocked to 800MHz. Be sure to hit the jump for a few more images of the iPhone 4S teardown. Deliveries of Apple’s new smartphone begin on Friday, and in the meantime be sure to check out our hands-on with the iPhone 4S. More →
Apple has secured Simplo Technology Co. and Dynapack International Technology Corp. to supply battery packs for the vendor’s upcoming iPad 3 tablet, Taiwan Economic News reported on Tuesday. According to the report, the new batteries will be thinner and lighter than the modules used in Apple’s current iPad 2 models, and Apple’s cost for the power packs will apparently jump by between 20% and 30% as a result. The report also states that Apple’s new iPad 3 batteries will feature a longer service life than the previous-generation packs used in the iPad 2. A thinner, lighter battery could mean Apple is conserving space for a new beefier Retina Display, or it could mean Apple is slimming down the iPad 3 case from the iPad 2’s already-svelte 0.34-inch-thick profile. Apple is expected to launch the iPad 3 early next year. More →
How’s this for an undocumented feature? Apple’s newer MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks have a security flaw that can allow hackers to remotely prevent the batteries from charging. Better yet, hackers can exploit the same flaw and remotely cause batteries to explode. Apple laptops’ new “smart” battery technology is intended to provide added control over power management, and it does just that. Unfortunately, it also gives hackers added control because the microcontroller chip that ships in recent Apple laptops can be accessed remotely using a default password shared by each and every notebook. Charlie Miller, the security expert who discovered the vulnerability, plans to showcase the flaw next month at the Black Hat security conference. There, Miller will show that he is able to access the battery controller remotely and cause it to refuse a charge, or even heat up until it catches fire and explodes. “These batteries just aren’t designed with the idea that people will mess with them,” Miller told Forbes last week. “What I’m showing is that it’s possible to use them to do something really bad.” Thankfully, the security expert also intends to showcase a fix for the flaw, which Apple will hopefully implement as soon as possible. More →
According to a report from CIO, BlackBerry users who installed RIM’s latest update for the tablet’s QNX operating system are now experiencing weakened battery life. The recent 1.0.3 software update introduced BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and video chat to the device, but it also appears to have had a substantial impact on battery life, possibly reducing it by 11% or more. RIM addressed the issue by suggesting that users accept the new license agreement for video chat, which may drain the battery if left unchecked, and the company also suggested that users fully charge and discharge the PlayBook battery several times in order to restore full function. Many users report that neither proposed solution has has an impact on the weakened battery life, however. More →
Samsung Russia has confirmed that it will launch a new version of the popular Galaxy S Android smartphone next month. The Galaxy S 2011 edition will ship with Android 2.3 and also feature a new metal back cover. The phone packs a faster 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255T Snapdragon processor — as opposed to the 1GHz Samsung Hummingbird CPU in the original — as well as a 14.4Mbps HSPA+ radio and a larger 1,650mAh battery. The rest of the hardware remains identical to the original; that includes a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, 8GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 3.0, 5 megapixel camera capable of recording 720p HD video, and more. The Galaxy S 2011 edition is expected to hit Russia next month for 24,000 rubles ($846 USD). There’s no word if the 2011 edition will ever be available in other countries. Hit the jump for Samsung Russia’s blog post. More →
Software version 4.1.57 for the Motorola ATRIX 4G is now available. The 17MB file, issued by Motorola, adds a number of improvements but is not the expected AT&T update that includes HSUPA support. After downloading the update, Motorola says users should notice the following changes:
- Bluetooth: Improved multimedia experience with Bluetooth devices as well as the ability to use phone with additional headsets.
- Fingerprint reader: Improved fingerprint reader performance.
- Battery: Improved battery performance for longer battery life.
- Screen: Display will turn off automatically now while charging directly on wall charger.
- Phone stability: Improved stability resulting in fewer occurrences of touch unresponsiveness and/of programs quitting unexpectedly.
- Car dock: Improved performance of car dock and 3.5mm jack.
It’s been reported that the update may cause some issues with those who have rooted their phones. AT&T has said that the upcoming HSUPA software update, which should ratchet up upload speeds on the ATRIX 4G and Inspire 4G, will land in April. Hit the jump for instructions on installing software version 4.1.57 on your ATRIX 4G.
With the ThunderBolt, HTC has delivered yet another “first 4G smartphone” following its EVO 4G for Sprint (and the often forgotten MAX 4G introduced in 2008). It’s the first handset to run on Verizon’s brand new 4G LTE network, and it’s an Android smartphone powerhouse that is easily the fastest smartphone on the planet in terms of data speeds. That’s not to say the device is perfect, however. The release of Verizon’s first 4G handset was pushed back several times, spanning almost two months, and I’m not so sure all of the wrinkles were ironed out even after all of the delays. But the ThunderBolt is finally here and I’ve spent some quality time with it over the past week or so. Read on to see if this is not only the fastest smartphone on the planet, but one of the best as well.
An Apple patent uncovered on Thursday describes new technology Apple is experimenting with in an effort to increase the battery life in its device lines. The patent filing, entitled Increasing Energy Density in Rechargeable Lithium Battery Cells, describes a unique multi-pronged approach to the problem of poor battery life in consumer electronics. Apple is investigating the use of a new “multi-step constant-current constant-voltage (CC-CV) charging technique,” which would increase the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of energy-storing material within a battery. According to the filing, this would increase the capacity of a battery without impacting battery size or charge time. Relative to competitive products, Apple’s mobile device and laptop lines are often praised for exhibiting impressive battery life. There can never be enough time in between charges, however, and as more features and better displays are added to future devices, manufacturers will always struggle to ensure battery life is not overly degraded as a result. More →
Competing smartphone platforms might be catching up to iOS when it comes to apps and UI styling — but can your Google phone do this? An iPhone 4 belonging to Omar Huartas allegedly blew up while his wife was holding it. According to Huertas’ video recount of the incident, the Apple smartphone became extremely hot while his wife held the device. The battery apparently swelled, dislodging the rear battery cover and catching fire. Huertas’ wife dropped the device on a table where it left visible burn marks. At some point during the fray, it also allegedly burned Huertas’ hand and expelled enough smoke that it set off his fire alarm. In a tweet to @ceoSteveJobs, a parody account on Twitter that Mr. Huertas may have thought to be real, Huertas writes, “my name omar huertas your iphone 4 blew up in my wife hand battery i spoke with apple i need something done loss data kids pic.” Huertas says he went to the Apple store to get a replacement phone, and it is unclear whether or not the affected handset is still in his possession. Hit the break for a bizarre video reenactment of the alleged incident. More →
Earlier this week, Kaufman Brothers analyst, Shaw Wu, made waves when he asserted that Research In Motion’s highly anticipated BlackBerry PlayBook tablet could be delayed due to “battery issues.” Mr. Wu’s exact statement was as follows: “RIM needs to improve its relatively poor battery life of a few hours compared to 6 hours for the Samsung Galaxy Tab and 10 hours for [Apple's] iPad.” Today, RIM has fired back with a concrete statement of its own, claiming that the PlayBook battery issues Wu reports are nonexistent.
Any testing or observation of battery life to date by anyone outside of RIM would have been performed using pre-beta units that were built without power management implemented. RIM is on track with its schedule to optimize the BlackBerry PlayBook’s battery life and looks forward to providing customers with a professional grade tablet that offers superior performance with comparable battery life.
There you have it. We would love for RIM to be a bit more forthcoming as to when — approximately — the device will be released, but we’ll just have to take this statement for now. More →