When you think about all the amazing things one can achieve today using a device that so easily slips into your pocket, it’s pretty hard to believe all that is being done on a battery smaller than your credit card and no thicker than a few stacked on top of one another. Smartphones, no matter what operating system they run, become useless when they die, and that’s why Apple has recently filed a patent titled “Increasing Energy Density in Rechargeable Lithium Battery Cells” that uses a “multi-step constant-current constant-voltage (CC-CV) charging technique” that will allow them to increase “the energy capacity of a rechargeable lithium battery without increasing the size of the battery”. In other words, more electricity, same amount of space.
How does Apple do this? They increase the “thickness of the anode active material inside a battery cell”, which allows a gain in both volumetric and gravimetric energy density, but without sacrificing size. The benefits here are pretty obvious. We no longer have to fear using push email. We can crank up the brightness of our screens without worrying whether or not our phone will work after we leave the office. When, and if, the next iPhone ships with near field communication (NFC) technology then that sensor can be left on all the time with no discernible impact.
Will others be allowed to make batteries using this method? Most likely. Patents are a way for companies to make money, but in the grander scheme of things this is Apple, and Apple doesn’t make anything. They hire contractors. Contractors leak blueprints, they become commonplace, and then before you know it you’ll have energy dense batteries in devices from Samsung, Nokia, and everyone else looking to shove a dual or quad core processor and 5 inch screen in a superphone or tiny tablet.