How Apple’s Backplane Tech Could Increase Your iPhone’s Battery Life

Iphone X Hadrian Shutterstock Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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Battery life is important for most smartphone users. Luckily, Apple is working on a new power-saving technology that could extend how long our phones can run on a charge.

That technology focused on the so-called backplane, a hardware component responsible for switching individual pixels on and off in OLED smartphone displays. Research firm IHS Markit expects Apple to debut a new type of backplane that could extend battery life in future iPhones.

Currently, the industry standard for OLED displays is a backplane using LTPS TFT (or low-temperature polysilicon thin-film transistors). In future OLED-based iPhones, Apple could switch to a newer LTPO TFT (low-temperature polycrystalline oxide).

Those are extremely technical terms, and IHS Market’s forecast about the technology is similarly technical. But the end result, the research firm estimates, is a power consumption savings in the 5 to 15 percent range.

It’s worth noting that we don’t know exactly how much extra battery life that power savings will translate to. But consider that the two most power-hungry components of a smartphone are the CPU and the display.

Backplane Tech
IHS Markit

That’s especially true with larger smartphones — like the upcoming iPhone X Plus. Larger displays mean more power consumption, so any savings in that department is going to be beneficial to smartphone users.

In other words, this probably isn’t the battery life revolution that many users want. But any sort of gain in the department should be seen as a win.

IHS Markit theorizes that Apple is working on developing LTPO technology to gain more control over the OLED technology in its devices. (That may be also be related to rumors that Apple is working on proprietary microLED tech.)

That’ll likely become increasingly important to Apple, since the company relies exclusively on Samsung Display for all of its iPhone OLED panels. IHS Markit notes that Apple is looking into securing LG as a secondary supplier of OLED panels for iPhones.

This year’s lineup is expected to feature two OLED iPhones for the first time, and it’s really only a matter of time before LCD iPhones are phased out entirely. As such, OLED-focused tech like LTPO is going to become more important as time goes on.

The research firm expects Apple to start deploying LTPO tech on the Apple Watch, before adopting it in iPhones in the long-term.


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