Solar cell in Apple iPhone 5, & next iPad may give Apple a leg up
Steve Jobs and Apple couldn’t be happer, everyone is talking about the iPhone 4 and it certainly has some features to be excited about. One problem it suffers from though - just like most other smartphones in the market - is battery life. Lithium-ion battery technology works well but it struggles to provide enough storage capacity in such a confined form factor. One way to solve that problem (at least partially) is by providing alternate energy sources, like the sun.
To use solar energy a device needs to absorb and adapt it to a compatible state, and that’s usually accomplished with solar panels. One of Apple’s recent patent filings indicates that the company is researching and wants exclusive rights to “media players with integrated touch sensor solar panel surfaces,” via GoodCleanTech.
Considering how close in functionality the iPHone 4 is to the HTC Evo, Apple will need need another significant innovation with its next generation of devices in order to maintain a lead in the marketplace. That’s never been more important especially as competition from Android devices, and by connection Google, appear on more carriers and deliver a similar value proposition.
Solar panels for mobile phones have been around for a while, just as third party accessories. Integrating them with the iPhone itself would maintain the chic design but it probably wouldn’t solve the problem of time. It takes quite a while in direct sunlight for a solar cell to charge a smartphone battery so this sort of feature would be cool but only practical in specific situations. Geographies with lots of cloudy days would also struggle to see the benefit.
Still, it’s good to see green technology weaving its way into everyday life. Few devices get more attention than a well-used smartphone so it makes good sense to make them as energy-efficient and recyclable as possible.