LG’s new battery tech: denser batteries, curved batteries, cable batteries tied into a knot
The key bottleneck in smartphone development today, are batteries. It doesn’t matter how fast the CPU is, what a bright and high resolution display the mobile device has, it all goes to naught if you run out of the stored power after a 3 or 4 hours of use. And despite the big promises coming form this or that startup or university research lab, no Moore’s law level breakthrough for battery tech is on the horizon.
But there is some progress and steady incremental improvements in battery tech. Just look at the battery top of the line smartphone of 2010- Nexus One- came with: 1400 mAh. Today we complain if the new smartphone has less than 2500 mAh of electric charge stored. And flagship devices with more than 3000 mAh batteries are now commonplace. Part of that, of course, comes from increase of the physical size of modern smartphone, with more place for larger batteries. But yearly increases in battery density are also a fact.
Today LG decided to tell us what their LG Chem battery tech subsidiary has in store for us in the next year or three. And it is some pretty interesting stuff.
They are now touting 3 new battery technologies.
The stepped battery, which they already put into their G2 flagship smartphone, increases capacity by 16% over traditional design of the same size. They do that by putting two batteries on top of each other, filling the dead space in the device. With this kind of battery, LG says they increased G2’s endurance by 3 hours. Now LG plans to move to 3 and 4 step designs, to pack even more punch into the same package.
LG has also developed and is about to start the mass production of curved batteries for curved display phones like upcoming G Flex, smart watches and other devices that want to break out of the rectangular brick design limitations of today. Just like with flexible displays, these are very early days of curved battery designs, and commercial availability will be very limited for now. But the technology is now mature enough to enter mass production, and you will see more and more curved devices during next year.
And then there’s some pretty far-out stuff. LG’s Cable Battery. It is shaped like a piece of wire, which is waterproof, can be bent in any direction and even tied into a knot. It is meant to power various wearable electronics and could be integrated into various accessories and clothes. The problem is, that for now it can store very limited amount of power, and can operate at very low voltages to avoid heating up. Also, LG’s cable batteries are still in prototype/testing stage and will not be ready for mass production for at least several years. So don’t expect it showing up in your next iPhone anytime soon.
With power of our mobile gadgets rapidly increasing every year, there is this feeling that they always have too little actual power stored to meet our needs. But looking back at how far we’ve come in just last three years, things are not so dire as some would make you believe. As LG Chem’s PR blitz shows, there’s a lot of interesting stuff and innovation going on in portable device battery tech today, and future looks even more interesting.
And, who knows, one day someone might even get lucky and finally produce that long awaited breakthrough in power storage that will let us to stop worrying about the charge in the smartphone on an hourly basis.