With phones becoming more high-tech with every release, today's handset batteries have a lot to cope with. Next-generation features, like advanced HD displays, Augmented Reality applications and incredible cameras, are fantastic news for tech fans, but with them comes an increasing need for power.
The problem for smartphone manufacturers is size. While consumers want longer lasting batteries, they don't want bulkier handsets.
So, is there a solution? What exactly does the future look like for smartphone batteries?
What battery is in my current phone?
Before we jump into the future, let's quickly catch up on what battery is currently sitting inside your smartphone.
If you have a fairly modern device, it'll be powered by a lithium-ion battery - aka a Li-ion battery. Known for their quick charging abilities and high capacities, they've offered a more than sufficient solution for the past two decades.
However, degradation can be an issue. The average lithium-ion battery today is expected to maintain around 80% of its original capacity for 300 to 500 charges, which should last just over two years unless you're a heavy smartphone user. Afterwards, the battery might begin to decline - meaning you'll find it runs out of juice slightly quicker than it used to.
The largest smartphone batteries on the market right now are around 4,000 mAh. You'll find this in a handful of devices, such as the Huawei P20 Pro.
Improving the Li-ion battery
Increasing the capacity of smartphone batteries, improving charging speeds and lowering degradation rates are the three major goals for scientists. Yet, a potential solution may not lie with a brand-new power source.
In June 2018, a team of scientists from the University of Maryland, the U.S Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and the U.S Army Research Lab managed to synthesise a cathode from iron fluoride.
There's a lot of heavy science behind the research, so we'll focus on the result. The material developed in the process can triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries, meaning you'll be able to pack more power into your smartphone without needing to increase the battery size.
Of course, this amazing revelation is still in its early stages, so who knows if it'll make its way into the smartphone industry?
What to make you battery go further? We also investigate how to extend your phone's battery life.
Gold Nanowire batteries
Imagine a world where smartphone battery degradation didn't exist. Charge it 300 or 3,000 times - you'll always receive the same great performance that you experienced on day one.
Gold nanowire batteries may be able to do just that. Nanowires are thinner than human hair, and have always been a possibility for smartphone batteries due to their large surface area and high conductivity. However, recharging has been a major issue in the past, with the batteries continuously breaking down.
A new discovery by experts at the University of California Irvine appears to have solved the problem. Covering gold nanowires in a substance made up of manganese dioxide shells coated in a gel electrolyte, breakage was no longer an issue. In fact, the team charged this new battery up 200,000 times and no hint of degradation was found. Amazing.
Being able to charge a device without wires, or even a wireless charging pad, has been a long-time dream for smartphone users. Transmitting power through the air, let's say from one side of a room to another, might still feel futuristic to many of us, but the technology is not as far away as you might think.
Making air power a reality is uBeam, a company led by 25-year old astrobiology graduate Meredith Perry. The system that's currently in development thanks to $28 million of funding uses microwaves to transfer energy.
uBeam doesn't reveal all the details on its website, but everything starts with a sound wave vibrating. Energy from this vibration is then converted into electricity, and - as if by magic - transferred to your device. At the present moment, it's a pretty expensive form of tech to fun but who knows what the future holds?
Ever wondered if 4G drains your battery faster? Find out here.
A battery-free phone
If you could live with a phone that offers no smart features at all, and instead can just make and receive calls, a battery-free device could be a real possibility.
Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a phone that uses almost no power at all. The minute amount of energy it does need, it harnesses from the environment using an antenna or light captured from a tiny, rice-sized solar panel. The only small blip? The device needs a specialised base station to work, but the team believe this could easily be integrated into the existing mobile network infrastructure.
While the direction smartphone batteries are going to take isn't clear, it seems that there's certainly plenty of innovative new solutions on the horizon. If you're eager to get your hands on a new handset with a great battery right now, why not check out the latest smartphones just added to Mobiles.co.uk today.