Does it matter if the new iPhone 6S/6S Plus has a smaller battery?

Rumors are circulating that Apple has had to make the battery inside the upcoming iPhone smaller in order to accommodate all the other neat stuff they had planned. But does a smaller battery matter?

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iFixit

Rumors are circulating that Apple has had to make the battery inside the upcoming iPhone smaller in order to accommodate all the other neat stuff they had planned. But does a smaller battery matter?

According to a translation of the Chinese tech site cnBeta the battery in the upcoming iPhone 6S will be a 1715 mAh unit versus the 1810 mAh found inside the current iPhone 6, while the battery in the larger iPhone 6S Plus is only 2750 mAh, compared to the 2910 mAh power pack inside the iPhone 6 Plus.

Some quick back-of-the-envelope scribbles tell me that this is a drop of a little over 5 percent. But the real question is, does it matter?

It all depends on how you look at things.

If you took these batteries and popped them inside the existing iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets, the batteries would deliver 42 minutes and 72 minutes fewer minutes of talk time over 3G respectively compared to the current batteries.

Translate this into standby times and that 5 percent makes an even bigger difference. For the iPhone 6 it would shave half a day off the standby time, and almost a day off the standby times for the iPhone 6 Plus.

For a device where people's main gripe is over battery life, this is quite a drop in runtime.

This sounds bad until you realize a few things:

  • We're comparing apples to oranges (or pears at the very least). Apple's not fitting these batteries into the existing handsets but rather into new handsets that are likely to feature more power-efficient components.
  • Apple claims iOS 9 has better power management than earlier releases of the operating system
  • Apple doesn't usually provide the battery specs in its sales literature, so we'd have to wait until the new handsets are released and a teardown is done to be sure.
  • If Apple can tweak things so that overall usage times aren't affected few will care.

Product design is always a compromise where issues of cost, space, battery life, volume, and weight have to be finely balanced, and if carving a small chunk off the battery helps balance those numbers then it's something that has to be done. And if it can be done without the end user noticing, so much the better.

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