Future 5G iPhone models could feature larger capacity batteries or more compact battery modules than those found in existing handsets, thanks to Apple’s adoption of key integrative technologies first seen in the company’s AirPods Pro wireless headphones.
DigiTimes today reports that Apple is looking to move towards the combined use of system-in-package (SiP) and flexible printed circuit boards (FPCBs) in forthcoming 5G iPhone handset battery modules, replacing the existing rigid-flex PCB solution it has relied on for years.
Apple has incorporated the SiP+FPCB solution into its new AirPods series, and may apply the solution to battery modules for 5G iPhones partly because SiP can integrate multiple functions and allow more space for more components, the sources said, adding that SiP+FPCB can now rival well the rigid-flex board solution in terms of price-performance ratios due to successful cost control by Apple.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has long predicted that Apple will become increasingly capable of designing new systems for larger capacity batteries as it packs more features into handsets that consume more power. These features obviously increase Apple’s costs, so for the “iPhone 12s” lineup in 2021, the company has been looking to adopt cost-cutting hybrid battery boards that can be either smaller without compromising on battery life, or the same size but with higher capacitance. A combination of SiP+FPCB is another potential solution that Apple is reportedly pursuing.
Kuo has previously said that Apple plans to launch new entry-level AirPods with a form factor design similar to AirPods Pro in the first half of 2021. Introduced in 2019, AirPods Pro feature a different in-ear design to AirPods, with shorter stems below the ear.
The third-generation AirPods are expected to adopt the more compact SiP technology that’s similar to the internals of the AirPods Pro, which will allow the audio features of the AirPods to be integrated into a casing more similar in design to the AirPods Pro.
Sources who spoke to DigiTimes said that current suppliers of rigid-flex boards for iPhone battery modules could be significantly impacted if Apple decides to incorporate a similar SiP+FPCB solution for new iPhones in 2021.