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The Reason Why Apple Uses Integrated Battery Designs

By - Source: USPTO | B 68 comments

If we believe the vision for Apple expressed by Steve Jobs, it's all about technology leading to the experience.

They are foremost about a cohesive experience that is enabled by technology. That would mean that the primary purpose of the non-removable battery in Apple's gadgets is not to annoy you, or to deliver additional revenues to Apple stores. The purpose would be experience, right?

Well, that is what an Apple patent filing that describes an "integrated embedded battery" appears to outline as well. The patent claim simply explains "a plurality of battery cells, wherein each battery cell is directly attached to a housing for enclosing operational components of the portable computing device, […] wherein the protective structure is configured to protect the battery cell from a compressive force applied to the housing of the portable computing device, the protective structure being attached to or integral with the housing and having a height greater than that of each of the battery cells."

However, the background description of the filed patent is much more revealing. In fact, the reasoning behind Apple's embedded battery is a great example of Apple's thinking behind the design of its products. Apple explains that the design of compact portable computing devices means that there can be "complex tradeoffs" and notes that the battery may be such a tradeoff. The design of the device can affect the battery in its general type, its energy density, durability and packaging.

As a result, Apple says that its embedded battery is a solution for a "portable computing device that is durable, lightweight and efficiently packaged." The description of this specific embedded battery shows an extraordinary amount of attention to the goal of supporting the design of the device as experiences by the user. For example, there are structural "ribs' that protect the battery from compression, but are lighter than a structure that would need to be present were the battery removable.

For replacement purposes, the battery was designed - even if consumers cannot replace the battery themselves, for easy removal: "As the battery cells are not enclosed in a separate pack, they are therefore easily accessible. Thus, the lack of a separate pack makes it easier to identify and repair or replace faulty battery cell. A removal mechanism, such as a pull tab or a removal handle, can be attached to the battery cell to facilitate removal of a battery cell that needs to be repaired or replaced."

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Top Comments
  • 30 Hide
    SirGCal , December 3, 2011 1:23 PM
    They're trying to patent that horrible idea? Good, maybe then no one else will be so stupid as to try it... That was initially my biggest complaint about the iStuff... Consumers NEED the ability to replace the battery or you are greedily forcing them to spend big $ on maintenance and/or replacement. That, IMHO, is akin to gouging with our dependency on electronics today. While I'm not an Apple fan myself, this one one of the enormous "avoid at all cost" items that they continued to do which just made NO sense to me.
  • 19 Hide
    daygall , December 3, 2011 1:23 PM
    how long before apple sues dell for the OLD Pentium 1 era laptop that had a battery you couldnt remove without desalinating the case... seriously...

    "a plurality of battery cells, wherein each battery cell is directly attached to a housing for enclosing operational components of the portable computing device, […] wherein the protective structure is configured to protect the battery cell from a compressive force applied to the housing of the portable computing device, the protective structure being attached to or integral with the housing and having a height greater than that of each of the battery cells."

    so are they going to sue radioshack for some of their phone designs?

    another vaguely worded patent that could lead to trolling... at least they HAVE WORKING MODELS +1 for not patenting air... oh wait.. apple will name some new uber small laptop the apple iAir or something...
  • 14 Hide
    hetneo , December 3, 2011 2:12 PM
    This is pure BS of patent and will hurt other manufacturers who have batteries also embedded to back cover, back plate or w/e they call it. Two reasons are why this patent and idea of embedding battery is bad. Patent is BS because it's same as if someone tried to patent knifes with folding blade. It's already existing technical solution and because of it's wide usage it belongs to public domain. Not to mention previous art argument, heck I remember 7 years ago I had dumb phone with embedded battery.
    Embedding battery is bad because all protection from pressure mechanisms can be implemented in battery itself, while leaving back cover unattached to it. The problem is that back cover get scratched from various reasons and why anyone in his/her right mind would have to buy whole battery?

    Anyway I can't prevent wondering how much did mr Perry or Tom's got for this article from Apple, because this is blatant serving of PR BS cooked in Apples kitchen.
Other Comments
  • 30 Hide
    SirGCal , December 3, 2011 1:23 PM
    They're trying to patent that horrible idea? Good, maybe then no one else will be so stupid as to try it... That was initially my biggest complaint about the iStuff... Consumers NEED the ability to replace the battery or you are greedily forcing them to spend big $ on maintenance and/or replacement. That, IMHO, is akin to gouging with our dependency on electronics today. While I'm not an Apple fan myself, this one one of the enormous "avoid at all cost" items that they continued to do which just made NO sense to me.
  • 19 Hide
    daygall , December 3, 2011 1:23 PM
    how long before apple sues dell for the OLD Pentium 1 era laptop that had a battery you couldnt remove without desalinating the case... seriously...

    "a plurality of battery cells, wherein each battery cell is directly attached to a housing for enclosing operational components of the portable computing device, […] wherein the protective structure is configured to protect the battery cell from a compressive force applied to the housing of the portable computing device, the protective structure being attached to or integral with the housing and having a height greater than that of each of the battery cells."

    so are they going to sue radioshack for some of their phone designs?

    another vaguely worded patent that could lead to trolling... at least they HAVE WORKING MODELS +1 for not patenting air... oh wait.. apple will name some new uber small laptop the apple iAir or something...
  • 5 Hide
    daygall , December 3, 2011 1:24 PM
    dismantling NOT desalinating.. stupid andriod auto spell check
  • 1 Hide
    zanny , December 3, 2011 1:52 PM
    Its fine to have custom batteries. That lets you squeeze them in awkward nooks in a device. The problem with every iDevice is that they vacuum seal everything shut so you can never alter it.

    It isn't a bad vision - abstract away the hardware and ignore it. But that is also ignorant to how hardware, even Apples stuff, will fail, and doing something like what Apple does in such a circumstance is just a money grab to force you to send it back.

    It's one of the reasons I don't buy apple stuff. I understand the people that do and the market is fine - people who want an experience without having to worry about the device itself get their best shot at never worrying about hardware with Apple stuff. It is just when something goes wrong, they pay out their bum to fix it.
  • 14 Hide
    hetneo , December 3, 2011 2:12 PM
    This is pure BS of patent and will hurt other manufacturers who have batteries also embedded to back cover, back plate or w/e they call it. Two reasons are why this patent and idea of embedding battery is bad. Patent is BS because it's same as if someone tried to patent knifes with folding blade. It's already existing technical solution and because of it's wide usage it belongs to public domain. Not to mention previous art argument, heck I remember 7 years ago I had dumb phone with embedded battery.
    Embedding battery is bad because all protection from pressure mechanisms can be implemented in battery itself, while leaving back cover unattached to it. The problem is that back cover get scratched from various reasons and why anyone in his/her right mind would have to buy whole battery?

    Anyway I can't prevent wondering how much did mr Perry or Tom's got for this article from Apple, because this is blatant serving of PR BS cooked in Apples kitchen.
  • 3 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , December 3, 2011 2:14 PM
    Dispite all that they can't say that an iPhone has a better battery than another smart phone. Especially with all the recent iPhone4S battery fails. My wife has an iPhone 4 and I have an Android. Battery life is about the same. And user experience? Not based on a fancy battery design.
  • -7 Hide
    hetneo , December 3, 2011 2:18 PM
    SirGCalThey're trying to patent that horrible idea? Good, maybe then no one else will be so stupid as to try it... That was initially my biggest complaint about the iStuff... Consumers NEED the ability to replace the battery or you are greedily forcing them to spend big $ on maintenance and/or replacement. That, IMHO, is akin to gouging with our dependency on electronics today. While I'm not an Apple fan myself, this one one of the enormous "avoid at all cost" items that they continued to do which just made NO sense to me.

    When you have to replace battery it's not such big additional expense of replacing back cover too. If battery is broken you have to replace it. But big expense hike is when you want replace back cover because of scratches. And that's the reason why Apple use embedded batteries. Other use them to decrease thickness of device, not Apple though.
  • 4 Hide
    enkichild , December 3, 2011 2:25 PM
    w/e this article did not convince me it was a good idea. All I can see is Apple making profit from people needing a new battery. I've never had a battery problem in ANY product but Apple's iPod.

    I don't buy Apple products because of these types of stupid decisions.
  • 0 Hide
    jecastej , December 3, 2011 2:28 PM
    Obviously the Apple "experience" term here is intended or applied for general consumers and not for avid gadget aficionados. However add to the non removable battery experience the 1000 cycles Apple claims and if everything goes fine the sealed package wont be an issue for most people.

    But I am fine building, upgrading or replacing everything myself and at least with the Apple pro line I would expect to be able to replace the battery even if this requires a bit more work.
  • 8 Hide
    del35 , December 3, 2011 2:29 PM
    Apple must consider its fan base to be a bunch of morons. Who in their right mind would want a device like a laptop with an inaccessible battery? To make a battery housing that is accessible is nearly trivial and provides the user with a multitude of options. I remember watching a video discussing where a class action suit was filed against Apple as a result of this practice and subsequently they agreed to replace the battery on devices whose battery had stopped operating after only months of use. As imagined, Apple was telling customers that it was cheaper to buy the device anew than to replace the battery.
  • 13 Hide
    kawininjazx , December 3, 2011 2:40 PM
    My friend wanted to replace his own iPhone battery and broke his in call speaker. The reason they have an integrated battery is so you either pay them to replace it or buy a new iPhone.
  • 8 Hide
    Yuka , December 3, 2011 3:05 PM
    If I can't replace something as basic as a battery, then I won't be getting the product.

    They talk big about "it's all about the experience", but they forget that when you run out of battery, it's the worst of all experiences; specially when you need the thing the most. If there's no way that I can get a replacement for the battery so I can change it, it's a bad purchase IMO.

    I have replacement batteries for almost every device in my house. There's no way I want to trade off practicality for style/looks.

    Cheers!
  • 2 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 3, 2011 3:17 PM
    Don't batteries decay over time and lose their total charge capacity? My 6 years old laptop, which originally had about 90 minutes of battery life under full load, now has a little under 40 minutes under full load.
  • 11 Hide
    jimmysmitty , December 3, 2011 3:28 PM
    greghomeBad Experiences right ?


    I would assume so. If a battery dies on a iPhone or any device like that, then you are screwed short of going to a Apple store. And last I checked, they don't do much. Hell I have had a MacBook and a HDD from a Mac PC in here to recover data because the Apple stores wont do it for them.

    If Apple is not willing to recover data for consumers when the HDD goes bad, then why would they replace the battery in a iPhone? Instead you have to buy a new iPhone or whatever iDevice it is and due to that, Apple makes more money than they would if you could buy a new battery. Most batteries are about $30 bucks for a Android device. If Apple did that, they would only make a couple bucks, $20 at most. Instead you buy a new iDevice and they make much more money.

    And the battery will degrade over time, another issue. With my Bionic I can replace that battery when it starts holding less of a charge but the iPhone, nope.

    Its not about the "Experience" with Apple. Its about total control. You can't replace batteries, you can't legally (I know about the Hackintosh) install OSX on a custom built PC and customizing a Mac is nill to none compared to a PC/Android phone etc. Apple is about controling their product and telling you what you want. Anyone who thinks it is about the "Experience" has fallen prey to Apples marketing mojo.

    I for one wont have that. I love a nice custom built PC. Give me a Corsair 500R or 650D and I can make a beauty of a machine that I like.

    So to all those who like Apple, enjoy being told what you need and whats cool. I will stick with my choice of everything.
  • 3 Hide
    cookoy , December 3, 2011 3:48 PM
    i don't like the idea of being able to patent how and where a battery is put in a device. How about if i patent a plurality of battery cells placed internally in the front or back or left side or right side or in middle or on top or bottom of or attached externally to a device
  • 8 Hide
    sublime2k , December 3, 2011 3:56 PM
    Apple wanted to charge me around $150 to replace my iPhone battery, so yeah, go ahead and patent it, at least no other company will use that dumbass idea.
  • -4 Hide
    memadmax , December 3, 2011 4:01 PM
    Full of crap............

    Anyways, that only stopped me for like 3 minutes....
  • 2 Hide
    HSADJADI , December 3, 2011 4:06 PM
    Marketing fluff being passed off as "news"... this is why nobody takes Tom's seriously anymore. Who's pocket are you in????
  • -8 Hide
    phexac , December 3, 2011 4:12 PM
    I've had numerous i-devices over the years and never needed to replace the battery. I am certainly glad that my macbook air doesn't have a removable battery, as I am quite happy with its form factor, and a removable battery would likely interfere with that. Removable battery is really not a priority for quite a few people out there, many of who are quite tech savvy. You guys are far too blinded by Apple hate to see this objectively though.
  • -9 Hide
    hakesterman , December 3, 2011 4:14 PM
    I highly Doubt your Android phone has the same battery life as your Wifes Iphone. I have yet to see any phone come close to an Iphone on battery life. If you and your wife both charge your phones once a week that doesn't mean you have the same battery life. If she is makeing 6 times more calls and three times more texts than you, than your Android fell alittle short Bud. But hey, Dreams are free.......
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