Xiaomi announced a "breakthrough" in its battery technology on Weibo yesterday. Unlike most of the hyperbolic news, we're used to hearing about battery science, these gains sound realistic. The company has even said it could start production as early as next year.
According to the machine-translated Weibo post (via Google Glass), the new battery technology promises a 10% increase in the capacity of the same given volume due to an increase in the silicon content of the electrode and improved packaging technology that shrinks and bends the control circuit to sit comfortably in the battery, rather than projecting it outward. In short, this lends itself to more power in a smaller package.
That means a phone with a 4,000mah battery might one day be able to squeeze 4,400mah into the same physical space. On top of that, some sort of "fuel gauge chip" (this is a machine translation, it might have another name) enhances battery safety and life, with built-in functionality for smart charging at night. Many recent smartphones can keep the battery at no more than 100% until they want you to remove it from the charger in the morning to reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the battery overnight, but Xiaomi is taking the technology directly to the battery controller itself. It also has other security features such as built-in temperature management and other connection analysis.
Other battery technologies like graphene are finally starting to show up in consumer products, though not all of them are good. But charging technology is improving. A few months ago, Xiaomi introduced its new 120W charging technology — which is pretty fast, but not all Xiaomi phones support full-speed charging. We will also introduce a new USB power transfer standard that can transfer up to 240W over USB-C cables.
Every few months, we hear big promises and scientific papers explaining how some new technology will deliver ridiculous battery density and power. Few of these technologies succeed. Although battery technology has improved a lot over the past few years, the series of advances has been slow and steady. Xiaomi's 10% gains aren't huge, but they could end up being something you buy. Production of the new battery will begin in the second half of next year, Xiaomi said.