Patents suggest Apple working on early battery swell detection
Last year, Apple filed at least two patents related to improving battery technology by improving battery housing and detecting swelling and helping users prevent it at an early stage.
Batteries are a part of all portable device these days from smartphones to wireless earbuds, but battery technology has not improved at the same pace as processors and other electronic components. As a result, lithium-ion batteries still suffer from decades-old issues such as swelling and eventual wear and tear.
Apple wants to help prevent user device's batteries from swelling and is developing technology to allow a device to ‘detect' a swelling battery. The company has reportedly filed a patent for this technology, alongside another patent for making smaller devices thanks to improved batteries, according to AppleInsider.
The reason for batteries swelling can be pinned down to basic chemistry. Because charging and discharging basically alters the chemical composition of the battery, occasionally byproducts are created - such as gas, which cannot escape as the unit is sealed. Charging a faulty lithium-ion battery can cause the amount of gas to increase at a faster pace, meaning that there's a chance your phone could explode or catch fire like a certain Samsung Galaxy Note device did in 2016.
According to the report, one patent titled “Metal can battery” filed by Apple in connection with improved batteries is to change how its devices internal parts are placed to make space for a larger battery to be included without causing any harm to the parts inside. It could involve a metal “shell” around the battery which would allow the battery to reside closer to the device's components.
The second patent is titled “Methods for determining and controlling battery expansion”. It reportedly uses the device's technology, by relying on a capacitor, to tell a user if a battery has begun swelling, and more importantly, inform them in case they can prevent or slow down battery swelling. The device could then determine for the user how to best tackle the situation.
The first patent was filed in May last year, while the second patent was filed in November, according to the report. However, Apple would need to rigorously test this technology for safety and viability, before it ever made it to a commercial iPhone. It remains to be seen whether the company actually brings the new technology to its upcoming iPhones.