Analyst Matt Margolis thinks Apple will embed solar cells in the sapphire screen of the next iPhone 6 (actually the 8th iPhone, but who’s properly counting?), to increase its battery life. Are we finally going to have solar-powered smartphones?
Some of us has been dreaming about solar-powered smartphones for years. However, this is not an easy task. First off, solar panels don’t have very high efficiency to begin with, capturing only about 22 percent of the energy given to them by the sun. Second, you need a pretty large area covered with them to get some significant energy output. Third, even if you cover your phone with them, you’re not going to hold it in the sun all day long, so let’s just say I wouldn’t expect this to double the battery life of your phone.
All of that being said, if done right, it might increase the battery life enough to make it worthwhile, at least in the long run. In the short term I can see a company like Apple being successful in promoting this to their customers, even if it’s more of a gimmick in the first few generations of the technology.
Even though Apple received a patent for solar cells embedded in touchscreens last year, it’s unclear whether they will actually arrive in the iPhone 6. I’d say there’s a more than 50 percent chance to happen, but it could also still be in the research phase, and might take a couple more years for it to be ready.
What does seem more likely to happen is a sapphire screen, which should improve scratch resistance, but it’s unclear whether it will have any effect on cracking resistance, too.