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Ive: bigger battery would make iPhone “less compelling”

Apple iPhone 6

Apple design guru writes off prospect of bigger batteries in iPhones

Sir Jonathan Ive has written off any prospect of Apple making the iPhone bigger to improve battery life. One of the biggest bugbears of smartphone users is that their devices will often die before they get home from an evening out, because lithium-ion battery technology simply hasn’t kept pace with the demands placed on modern handsets.

However, in a rare interview given to the Financial Times, Ive dismisses concerns over battery life, and says there’s no chance of Apple bulking up devices to accommodate a bigger battery. Ive told the newspaper that the reason batteries deplete so quickly is because the iPhone is “thin and light” and so people are constantly fiddling with their mobile. He said any attempt to incorporate a bigger battery would make the device heavier, more cumbersome and therefore “less compelling”. 

Battery life isn’t only a concern for Apple’s smartphones. The limited longevity of the battery inside the Apple Watch – full details of which are expected to be announced later today – was reportedly of concern to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who conceded recently that the smartwatch would need to be charged every night. 

Ive told the FT that the company had been working hard to optimise the Watch’s performance. “Even now, when the design of the Apple Watch is incredibly mature and has gone through thousands and thousands of hours of evaluation and testing, we’re still working and improving,” he said. “You are trying to keep everything fluid for as long as possible because everything is so interconnected. The best products are those where you have optimised each attribute while being very conscious of other parts of the product’s performance.”

Ive says making the Watch has proved more challenging than the iPhone, because it’s harder to improve on the user experience of watches. “All of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cell phones we were using at the time,” Ive said. “That’s not the case here. We’re a group of people who love our watches. So we’re working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists.”

Indeed, Ive compares the significance of the Apple Watch to that of the original iMac, the product that reversed Apple’s fortunes when Steve Jobs returned to the helm in the mid-1990s. “I think of what preoccupied Steve in the 1970s: it was making the unobtainable power of the computer personal,” said Ive. “And when he came back to Apple in 1996, the first thing we worked on together was the iMac, which was a personal consumer computer. So I think Apple’s contribution has always been at its most significant when it’s trying to make personal products. And this watch is clearly the most personal product we’ve made.”

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