back to article Apple rethinks battery bondage

Three Apple patent applications have surfaced indicating the company may be rethinking its policy of using non-user-serviceable batteries in its mobile devices. One of the applications describes a "host machine" - looking much like an iMac in the accompanying drawings - that has battery-charging slots built into its body. A …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They can take our freedom, but they'll never take our batteries (because they're sealed inside)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo


    Apple is the only laptop company that manufactures their own batteries. Just a recent development. So battery technology and battery based patents are not a surprise to come out of Cupertino to me.

    To the uneducated masses, it must smack of wha?

  3. Sonya Fox

    Not that big of a deal

    Its way cheaper just to dismantle the thing and replace the cells yourself, odds are the warranty's expired by the time the battery goes flat anyway. Mouser sells every kind of battery cell out there, and replacing them is a pretty trivial task if you can solder, but you have to replace them with exactly the same brand and model unless you want to have a pic of your incinerated notebook in the Reg. I'd sooner take my chances than shell out the big bux to them.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    So why is this a patent?

    Neither new nor unobvious, just a write-up of existing stuff and ideas already out there. Hopefully it won't be granted (not holding my breath there)

  5. Nick Askew

    Patent? This?

    I am sure I am being something of a party pooper here but my Senheiser wireless headphones had a base station with a charging slot about 10 years ago. While one battery was in the headset the other was being charged in the base station.

    Devices that can wirelessly telly you the batteries are failing include countless things including wireless burglar alarms and even Wii remotes.

    Surely they cannot be claiming to be patenting the idea of standardised batteries with a standard battery charger!

    Perhaps they deserve credit for thinking about the end of life of the battery though. Unless you know differently.

  6. Peter D'Hoye

    Apple and replaceable batteries?

    about bloody time

  7. Adrian Coward

    Replaceable Battery Chemicals

    One word: lithium. (Hence the flame icon.)

  8. Steven Jones

    More Bondage

    As others have pointed out, for older equipment, which is out of warrantee, there are third-party alternatives and services available. Not as convenient as an easily user-servicable part of course, but there are at least alternatives. Knowing Apple's love of proprietary lock-ins, then it's very likely that they are looking at ways of locking out alternative suppliers by the use of patentable technology. It will be no odds to Apple if power sources are replaceable, as long as you have to buy them from them. We see exactly the same thing in the inkjet printer market with chipped cartridges.

    There is something similar with Sony's Infolithium batteries where they have deliberately limited competition by using patented (and unlicensable, as far as I know) technology so that they have a greater hold over the replacement battery market. There are some work-around alternatives in some cases, but generally not wholly satisfactory.

  9. jai

    180 degrees?

    not really 180 degrees is it?

    Apple have said that the current battery technology is insufficient and that providing user-changable cells is too inefficient (in terms of space etc).

    all they are doing here is putting forward patents to possible answers to that problem, based on their new battery tech they've employed in the macbook pro 17

    i'm not sure how the first 2 patents are part of this "180 degree about face" though - they just seem like extensions on the way that iTunes displays the capacity of your ipod/iphone when it's connected - now it'll also have a battery bar on the summary tab

  10. Simon Blair

    About-face on Apple's battery policy?

    Surely you mean: volte face?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Mouser" may well sell every battery known to man, but they DO NOT sell many to the UK! I just looked as I have an old lappy that needs a battery make-over.

  12. Ascylto
    Jobs Halo


    The non-replaceable battery nonsense is just a ploy to batter Apple. There are plenty of replacement batteries available. If Apple themselves don't offer the service, third parties do. In order to get longer life (up to 5 years typical) and longer use, Apple have cleverly integrated the battery into available space in the latest 17" MacBook Pro. Even on expiry the battery IS replaceable.

  13. Mike Groombridge

    Sound like arse covering to me

    apple ae probable coving their arse in cause the EU passes the law meaning all electronic devices must have removable power cells they will probable go back to the old days of batteries not included so

    you buy ipod for £150(batteries not included) and buy a battery £50

  14. Anonymous Coward

    'IF' they are clever

    they would use different battery chemicals for different purposes.. eg very low internal discharge (like hybrio type) for long life devices (mouse, keyboard) and High Power batteries (like NiMH Lion etc) for high power frequently recharged devices (phones, laptops)...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Another Dumbass iDea U-Turn

    Apple are all about lock-in these days. With the EU about to force change this seems a sensible approach or they won't be selling many units in Europe.

    Now to start unbundling Safari with OS X....

  16. Harry
    Thumb Down

    All three patents already invalid

    "could communicate wirelessly with mobile devices to monitor their battery power" ...

    Apart from being elementary common sense (and therefore not patentable in any intelligent country) Sennheiser has already been doing that for several years with their radio microphones.

    "pop-off end-caps that allow battery chemicals to be swapped out" ...

    does nobody remember the days when every car battery had a plug on top of every cell ... nominally ised to top them up, but it could equally well be used to replace the chemicals altogether.

    And finally ...

    "a "host machine ... that has battery-charging slots built into its body"

    Yes, we usually call those BATTERY CHARGERS and they have been around for years. Building one into some other device doesn't change anything -- it is still just a battery charger. And plenty of other products (including my DECT phone) have charger bases that built into some other part of the system.

    The world is absolutely sick and tired of these frivolous nuisance patent claims. Its high time there was a compulsory minimum 10 year jail sentence for anybody applying for a bogus patent like these.

  17. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: About-face on Apple's battery policy?


  18. Anonymous Coward

    Patent schmatent

    Only Apple would think that removable batteries are so innovative that they should be patented...

    When they invent some kind of super-lightweight DiLithium-ion battery, *then* they should call the patent lawyers.

  19. Cap'n wotsit

    Battery Bondage

    oh go on then I will say it....

    battery bondage...shocking

  20. Anonymous Coward

    re: Steven Jone

    Didnt the EU say that chipping ink carts that prevented refilling was illegal under its recycling laws not so long back?

    Wouldnt that same law apply to refillable battaries?

    As to lock in, it seems strange that we worry about lock in when it comes to Macs, and Windows, but we ignore it when it comes to games consols. Is that becase they are cheaper? more disposable?

    I mean you pretty much get locked into a "defined" upgrade cycle with a games console, so you are buying a new one ever, what 3-5 years?

    Just a random thought on a snowy tuesday

  21. Adrian Waterworth


    Seems like quite a few people are saying "these ideas are not patentable" and they may be right - I'm as fed up of junk and inappropriate patents as the next person. However, it occurs to me that there may indeed be patentable stuff in there, depending upon what the specific claims are in the patent submissions.

    OK, IANAPL, but as I understand it, it is quite possible to reinvent and patent something that already exists, so long as you are coming up with something new in your way of doing it. It's the new bits that potentially make it patentable.

    Anyone out there who has read the full submissions and happens to have a background in battery technology, power electronics and patent law who can make a more definitive statement one way or the other?

  22. Shonko Kid

    @AC Friday 6th Feb

    >snowy tuesday

    Crikey! the snow's so bad where you are it's stopped Wednesday, Thursday and Friday getting through!

  23. Simon B

    secondary power sources - you mean plug it in?!!

    "And the company touches on secondary power sources that could take over when a battery has either run down or been removed"

    Yeah, it's called mains electricity! ROFL

  24. R Cox

    Seems like peripheral

    This seems an extension of what already happens on the keyboard and mouse. The change seems to be a 'universal rechargeable battery' which can be swapped and recharged on the host machine. This would certainly reduce the number of batteries that get improperly disposed of under the current throw-away regime. I seriously doubt that this is a move to away from the non-user serviceable battery in laptops or even the iPhone. The volume and forms factors of these batteries are simply too variable.

  25. Tom Walker

    Battery freedom

    I fail to see why Apple is so bent out of shape over batteries, just make it easily accessible and changeable.

    No complicated magnetic coupling, authentication etc.............IT IS JUST A BATTERY!!!!!!.

    It is a good thing that manufactures of flashlights (torches) have not taken the Apple route and complicate a simple technology

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Apple are just shit..

    and getting worse.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Patents

    "OK, IANAPL, but as I understand it, it is quite possible to reinvent and patent something that already exists,"

    This is true, in the US at least. I personally have 2 patents based on unique uses of DTMF, even though I had nothing to do with the creation of DTMF itself.

  28. Ted

    Replacing batteries in Apple products...

    Replacing batteries in ANY Apple product does NOT void the Apple warranty. I'm sick and tired of people who somehow think you can't replace Apple batteries. That's a PURE myth people!

    Apple uses high quality batteries that only need to be replaced about once every 4 years, so yes, it's a rare event, but you certainly don't have to have it replaced BY Apple. Yes, they offer a white glove service, but so does Volvo and Rolls Royce once your car battery fades.

    Fact is, if you know how to flip a latch or operate a screwdriver, you can do it yourself. eBay, and tons of non-Apple vendors carry every battery made going back to the Apple ][.

    So please pass this info onto anyone who ignorantly complains that Apple somehow seals their batteries in, since that is simply NOT true.

  29. Ted

    Here is what Apple has invented...

    A lot of people here might not understand what Apple's chemists have done with pushing laptop battery technology forward... it will all make sense once you watch this video, but not until you do.

    The movie link is on lower right side... quite interesting... can you say battery fabric?


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