Traditionally, Apple has been a company that has zigged when others zagged, which is why it comes as no surprise they chose to internalize the battery on the forthcoming iPhone.

iPhone Battery

When looking at the competitive landscape of the smartphone market, you have to consider the following three as they were referenced as so by Steve Jobs in his keynote.

  • Treo
  • BlackBerry
  • Motorola Q

All of these phones share one thing in common, a removable battery. There many reasons why manufacturers choose removable batteries for their smartphones.

  • Battery failure does not result in replacement of entire device
  • A smartphone is more critical than an MP3 player. A dead battery can result in missed calls or the ability to make a critical call. Power users have the option to carry a backup.
  • Removable battteries offer an additional consumable for customers and thus and additional revenue opportunity.

These all make perfect sense, so why did Apple choose not to go with a removable battery for the iPhone and opt for internalization of the battery?

Why Apple Chose To Internalize the iPhone Battery

The iPhone has been years in the making, so many of the worlds most accomplished engineers and designers have made a conscious choice against a removable battery. Looking at Apple products of the past, one can hypothesize the reasoning behind the decision:

  • Design: Apple is known for their stunning design. By internalizing the battery, they reduce the amount of spacing required by a battery door or compartment. In the iPhone, Apple has been able to create a visually appealing product by from the front and back.
  • History: The iPod family has used internal batteries since it’s inception. Apple has had issues with their iPod battery in the past, but being the iPod has reached the 6th generation, the prevailing thought is that Apple has refined the internal battery and reduced such problems.
  • Control of Operating System: The iPhone runs Mac OS X enabling Apple to maximize the life of the battery through the various settings within the iPhone. While other manufacturers must rely on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform, Apple once again is in a position to control both hardware and software enabling further optimization of battery life.

Potential Hurdles

It is unclear whether this decision will pay off for Apple. They have outdone themselves when it comes to the visual design of the iPhone, but the battery life will be critical to the success of the iPhone. Whereas other smartphone manufacturers might recommend an external battery (some including the Moto Q offer extended batteries) for power users, Apple iPhone owners must hope the internal battery meets the specs being quoted. According to their technical specifications, the iPhone will provide up to 5 hours for talk, video and browsing. Theoretically, this number could increase significantly if you remove or even reduce video and browsing from your daily activities. Smartphone owners will expect a minimum of one day of “regular” mixed usage (phone, email, web), something that it is easily attainable if those numbers are a reality. The iPhone introduces a robust feature set, but it’s success may lie within Apple’s ability to successfully buck the trend of removable batteries. With control of the OS and history working with the iPod’s internal battery design, Apple is one of the few companies who could successfully buck the trend.