Here's why future iPhones are likely to get bigger batteries

Hint: It has to do with upgraded hardware like the camera.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Gordon Gottsegen
2 min read

Future iPhones may be even more battery-thirsty in 2019 and beyond, and battery capacity could swell as a result.

KGI analyst and known Apple commenter Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that upgraded 3D sensing and TrueDepth camera tech in iPhones from 2019 and later will consume more power, thus requiring larger batteries (via MacRumors). 

This claim comes after the analyst predicted that all of next year's iPhones could include a larger L-shaped battery, like you find in the iPhone X.

While bigger batteries in future iPhones sounds like good news, that won't necessarily translate into longer battery life. It could be that future batteries can only keep pace with current lifespans as resource-draining hardware takes greater and greater tolls. 

The prediction comes at a time when iPhone batteries are in the hot seat, which raises questions about future battery performance overall.

Watch this: Check to see if your iPhone 6S is eligible for a free battery replacement

Apple recently revealed that it slows down performance on older iPhones like the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus when battery life declines. Now, before you get your pitchforks and start rioting, Apple has its reason for this. The iPhone 6S was known to unexpectedly shut down even when the battery still had life left. This happened essentially because the iPhones' processors would hit speeds that the battery couldn't handle, prompting an emergency shutdown. By slowing down the phones with a software update, Apple was able to avoid the shutdown problems.

Lithium ion batteries -- which power smartphones -- degrade and hold less charge over time. Exposure to cold and heat also affects battery efficiency. Older iPhones that already suffer from declining battery life may further slow down if Apple's software plays gatekeeper -- which the company says it does only in cold temperature, if the charge is low or if the batteries are very old.

Enlarge Image

The battery in the iPhone 6S (shown) also affects the performance of the phone;s processor.


So what do future high battery-capacity iPhones have to do with this? If Kuo's prediction is true and new iPhone hardware requires much more battery power, older iPhones with lesser battery reserves could be left behind. That raises questions about a widening gap between what new and old iPhone models can or can't do.

Apple also said that it is bringing the same battery-induced throttling that it did to the iPhone 6S with iOS 10.2 to the iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2. The iPhone 7 -- which is only a year old -- may not show the same battery aging as the iPhone 6S, but that could happen in 2019 if Apple sticks with this pattern.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.