iPhone 8 and iPhone X Battery Life — and Math

January 23rd, 2018

In addition to throttling performance of older iPhones due to failing batteries, one especially ill-informed tech pundit has now come up with a silly claim that wireless charging and fast charging somehow makes batteries wear out faster. But, it seems, only if those features are offered on an Apple product.

You with me so far?

Not to worry, I’ll attempt to make it all clear to you as much as I can.

So we know that the new iPhones support fast charging. When it comes to so-called wireless charging, it’s actually not something you couldn’t get before, but you needed a special case to do it. Now it’s native and since it supports an industry standard protocol, Qi-based wireless inductive charging, you don’t have to wait for Apple to deliver its promised AirPower charging pad. There are plenty out there.

Now the article in question, again not being linked, makes a deal out of Throttlegate, the so-called scandal involving Apple reducing performance on iPhones with failing batteries. Somehow this leads to fears about the “pressures that more power-thirsty devices is placing on batteries,” which means, in short, that the batteries of the newest iPhones must wear out much faster.

How long is the inevitable? “…the battery inside your new iPhone 8 or iPhone X might be worn out in under a couple of years.”

Now I’m sure you know that there are no magic bullets in battery technology. They all wear out after a given number of charge cycles, so why should it be all about Apple anyway?

Stick with me, because our aimless blogger reminds us that an iPhone battery — and most any smartphone battery for that matter — “is designed to retain up to 80 percent of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles.” That’s from Apple, so you can believe it.

So how does this all get out of sorts? Well, it appears that the argument is that, since it takes less time to charge the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, you will, therefore, charge them more often and thus wear out the batteries faster. This must be some kind of major scandal, particularly because the blogger was frightened to discover that he had charged his iPhone’s battery more often then he expected.

Now I should point out that Apple has kept estimated battery life pretty consistent over the last two generations of the product. You will get more battery life out of an iPhone 8 Plus than the regular iPhone 8; it lasts about the same as the previous model.

So even if the fast charging cycle is shorter, the battery won’t have to be replaced more frequently. That’s the fatal flaw.

Unfortunately, our aimless blogger never actually considered any of this, or chose not to. Sure, I’d love to get two or three days out of a single charge, but it’s not happening. Since the batteries are actually a little smaller, it means Apple has found ways to make power utilization more efficient, touting the same battery life for the iPhone 8 as the iPhone 7.

Besides, Apple has no exclusive with fast charging and inductive (wireless) charging. Lots of other smartphones have had these features for years, yet we don’t have the aimless blogger raging about wearing out those batteries faster because you charge them faster. Indeed, the lack of logic is so obvious, I wonder how that column ever got past the editors of the major tech portal on which it was posted.

Now it’s certainly true that competing smartphones do tout longer battery life. But not, obviously, more charge cycles since the batteries are more or less the same. Ideally, Apple ought to find ways to stuff a bigger battery into an iPhone without changing the size that much. Maybe someday there will be a revolution in technology that will allow you to get several times more battery life with shorter charging cycles and more of those cycles.

Indeed, my part-time ride hailing gigs with Lyft and Uber definitely demonstrate the shortcomings of current batteries when you use them under heavy load for hours on end. While I’m running the navigation feature full bore, I’m lucky to see three or four hours before I have to attach a charging cable to my iPhone. If I have the need to replace the battery sooner, so be it. It’ll be a business expense obviously.

But maybe Apple can find a way to reduce the power requirements for the GPS and the third parties who make the navigation software I need will make them more efficient, so they don’t wear out the battery quite so quickly. That would certainly be a helpful development since millions of people with smartphones do this kind of work, or something similar.

I am, however, looking forward to the promised iOS update that will allow me to keep tabs on battery health, so when the time comes, I’ll be ready to replace the battery and get on with my life.

And wait for the next lame fear-mongering blog about Apple. I should see one any day now.

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