NYT: Apple Watch includes ‘Power Reserve’ mode, shows only the time but conserves battery life

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The New York Times has published a piece about the culmination of the Watch project, as Apple transitions from product development stages to production and marketing to consumers. The piece reiterates that Apple was working on a vast array of health tracking sensors that were later dropped, which 9to5Mac covered extensively at the time.

However, the post includes one new piece of information about a previously-unannounced mode called ‘Power Reserve’. According to the report, users will be to enable a special low-power state that conserves battery life. In this mode, users will be able to see the time but cannot interact with the ‘smarter’ watch features like other apps. It is likely that other power-sapping features, like the constant connection to an iPhone for notifications, will also be disabled in this mode…

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Opinion: Should Apple improve iPhone battery life, or just battery cases?

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As this photo of the original Mophie Juice Pack and Tylt’s Energi for iPhone 6 shows, iPhone battery cases haven’t changed much over the years. They’ve existed for almost as long as iPhones, and remained ubiquitous due to Apple’s continued focus on thinness over longevity. That hasn’t been great for consumers: as 9to5’s Seth Weintraub put it, people are more impacted by their phones’ battery life than an extra 2mm of thinness.

It took until 2014 for Apple to offer one iPhone model — the iPhone 6 Plus — with all-day battery life, though you have to be willing to accept a much larger footprint to get that. By comparison, the smaller and reportedly more popular iPhone 6 improved only around 7% upon the iPhone 5s in run time, so the typical iPhone user isn’t seeing much of an improvement over prior models.

With a variety of alternatives at Apple’s disposal, including some major chip improvements that are just around the corner, we wanted to pose two questions to our readership. Should Apple take a break from slimming down iPhones to focus on improving battery life? Or should it instead focus its efforts on making battery cases better? Read on for our thoughts, and share yours in the comments section below…

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Apple reportedly poached employees from A123 Systems to work on battery tech, now faces unfair competition lawsuit

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Apple has poached five key engineers from A123 Systems to work in a new battery division at the Cupertino technology company, with some hires possibly going as far back as June, a new report claims. The battery maker claims that these hires violated agreements it had in place to prevent them from joining competing companies.

The employees the report refers to are Don Dafoe, Michael Erickson, Indrajeet Thorat, Mujeeb Ijaz, and Depeng Wang. Three of these workers—Erickson, Thorat, and Wang—were PhD project heads working on new battery technology. Ijaz headed up the System Venture Technologies Division, which oversaw work by all four of the others.

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Review: Tylt’s Energi Sliding Power Case doubles iPhone 6 run time, plus 20%

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Last week, we reviewed the first iPhone 6 Plus battery pack we’ve tested, MOTA’s unauthorized but value-laden Battery Case for iPhone 6 Plus. Now a maker of stylish charging accessories called Tylt has debuted what it says is the first Apple-authorized battery case for the iPhone 6, the Energi Sliding Power Case ($100). Officially shipping in mid-January, Energi continues the sled-style battery case design we first saw years ago in Mophie’s original Juice Pack (below), though with two critical differences: for the same price, it includes a 3200mAh rechargeable cell, and a detachable case that can be used alone when you don’t need spare power.

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While it’s not the perfect battery case for iPhone 6 due to some small issues, Energi comes very close. Read on for all the details.

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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus support faster charging, but ship with slower power adapter

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Update: We’ve rounded up some nice 2.1A AC/Car charger and battery upgrade options for the iPhone 6/Plus

Apple has apparently enabled much faster battery charging in the newest iPhone models, but you’d never know it if you only use the included power adapter. According to a change in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus discovered by iLounge, both of the new smartphones are equipped with the hardware to support 2.1A charging.

The problem? Apple only includes a 1A charger in the box. If you’ve been using that AC power adapter to recharge your phone, there’s a much faster way to do it. Since the iPad has long supported 2.1A charging, you can grab a charger for the Apple tablet and use that to achieve a much quicker charge.

Another way to benefit from this new capability is to plug your iPhone directly into a newer-model Mac, which will charge it at the appropriate speed. iLounge noted that the Macs tested for this feature were running Yosemite with no mention of OS X Mavericks, so it’s possible that the change may require the upcoming OS, which is currently is public beta. Read more

Apple finds some iPhone 5 units have battery problems, opens replacement program

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This Friday afternoon, Apple has opened up an iPhone 5 battery replacement program after discovering that a “very small percentage” of units “may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently.” The iPhone 5 was originally launched in September 2012, and Apple says that the affected units were sold between that month and January 2013. Apple’s support website includes a tool to check if your serial number belongs to a faulty iPhone 5…

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Now even more shots of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6’s 1810mAh battery have leaked

Yesterday, we reported on purported photos of the larger, 5.5-inch iPhone 6’s 2915mAh battery pack among other parts, and today, new clear shots of the 4.7-inch models have leaked. Photos of the smaller next-generation iPhone’s 1810mAh battery first hit the web in July, and these new photos add weight to the previous photos being legitimate. For comparison, the iPhone 5s’s battery is 1560mAh, but because of the higher-res screen on the iPhone 6, it’s possible that the bigger battery pack could be offset but the additional pixel pushing. Besides a bigger battery, the new iPhones will likely include sharper displays, faster A8 processors, new sensors, and improved cameras. The new devices will debut at an event on September 9th and begin shipping around a week-and-a-half later. Another shot of the 4.7-inch model’s battery is below:

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Sketchy rumor of 13MP camera in iPhone 6, as earlier battery power rumor backed by claimed photo

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GforGames is citing a Chinese web forum for a rumor that the iPhone 6 camera will get a bump from 8MP to 13MP as Apple switches to to an improved version of the Sony Exmor sensor. The Sony Exmor IMX220 is a larger 1/2.3-inch sensor that can support up to 20MP, but Apple is said to be planning to use it in its 13MP incarnation.

While a Chinese web forum is generally as unreliable a source as you can get, GoforGames claims that this one has a good track-record with Sony-related rumors …  Read more

Apple reportedly working w/ Intelligent Energy to integrate fuel cell tech in devices

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A report from the Daily Mail over the weekend claimed Apple is working with fuel cell company Intelligent Energy on a project that hopes to embed fuel cells in mobile devices “within a few years.” The Daily Mail doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to accuracy, but the report claimed “senior sources in the US” have confirmed the partnership between the two companies. 

The technology could be rolled out in devices such as laptops and iPads, allowing them to run without being charged for days or even weeks…Intelligent Energy revealed upon floating that it bought a bundle of patents in tandem with a major ‘international electronics company’…It has kept the identity of its partner a closely-guarded secret. But a source, who has knowledge of the partnership, confirmed that Apple is the big name working with the Loughborough-based firm.

The report noted that Intelligent Energy already has ties to Apple with former Apple Computers product specialist Joe O’Sullivan sitting on the company’s board and a new office in San Jose not far from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.  Read more

Chinese media get specific on iPhone 6 battery capacity, appears that Apple ‘thinnovation’ will exact a toll

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Much as we may love our iPhones, battery-life has never been one of its strengths (ask Samsung). But if you were hoping that the larger size of the iPhone 6 would mean a much bigger battery, some Chinese media reports spotted by GforGames suggest that we might be disappointed.

The reports claim that the battery in the 4.7-inch model will be in the 1800-1900mAh range – only around 20 percent more than in the iPhone 5s. Factor in the increased power requirement of the larger screen and corresponding increase in resolution, and we might not see a significant boost increase in battery-life …  Read more