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Apple may be working on game-changing iPhone battery tech

Published Apr 11th, 2017 8:51AM EDT
iPhone Battery Saving Chip
Image: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock

A few days ago, news broke that Apple plans to stop using Imagination’s GPU technology in iPhones at some point in the coming two years, as the iPhone maker is developing its own graphics chip for iOS devices. That may be great news for iPhone buyers, but Imagination’s stock tanked almost immediately, since losing iPhone business is a crucial hit for any parts supplier. Similar news came out on Tuesday, and it had the same effect on a different chipmaker. It turns out that Apple is looking to improve iPhone battery life by designing its own battery chips.

Unlike Imagination a few days ago, Dialog did not confirm Apple’s plans.

Bankhaus Lampe financial analyst Karsten Iltgen cut his rating on Dialog Semiconductor from “hold” to “sell,” saying in a research note seen by Reuters that Apple is working on its own battery-saving chips for the iPhone. This chip could replace Dialog’s power management integrated circuits (PMIC) as early as 2019.

Dialog’s shares were down by as much as a 36%, Reuters explains, down to a seven-month low. Apple happened to account for more than 70% of Dialog’s 2016 sales, according to the analyst. This proves yet again how important Apple’s iPhone business really is, especially to smaller companies.

Unnamed industry sources told Banhaus Lampe that Apple is setting up power management design centers in Munich and California, with as many as 80 engineers already working on a battery-saving chip for the iPhone.

“In our view, there is strong evidence that Apple is developing its own PMIC and intends to replace the chip made by Dialog at least in part,” Iltgen wrote.

A different source familiar with the matter confirmed the news, saying that Apple is poaching Dialog engineers in Munich “like crazy.”

If Dialog sounds familiar, that’s because the company’s endeavors have been linked to the iPhone 8 in recent months. An exciting rumor claimed the handset will support long-range wireless charging thanks to technology from Energous. Dialog’s partnership with Energous was seen as an indirect proof that Apple is interested in long-range wireless charging for the iPhone 8. But those rumors soon lost their appeal, as reports indicated the game-changing Energous technology isn’t ready for the iPhone. And if today’s report is accurate, Apple may never go for long-range wireless charging tech enabled by Dialog.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.