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Teardown: A peek inside iPhone 6 Plus battery

Posted: 15 Jun 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lithium-polymer  batteries  smartphone  iPhone 6 Plus  Apple 

LiCoO2 (LCO) is a mature battery technology commonly used for mobile battery applications such as cell phones, tablets and laptops, and this likely explains why all of the batteries fall on the same energy density curve.

Other cathode materials include lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2), lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (LiMnCoO2), lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) and lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2). The last three are used in electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. TechInsights has previously analysed the Chevy Volt battery fabricated by LG Chemical where we observed a mixture of lithium manganese oxide (LMO) and lithium nickel manganese oxide (NMC) being used for the cathode.

The graphite anode and CoO2 cathode have lattice structures in which lithium ions are reversibly inserted (intercalation) into the interstitial spaces between the atomic layers. The image below is a high resolution TEM image of the cathode's CoO2 layer, while the graphite layered structure is shown in the next image.

CoO2 cathode layers

CoO2 cathode layers. (Source: Detailed Structural Analysis of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus Li-ion Polymer Battery, TechInsights)

Graphite anode layers

Graphite anode layers. (Source: TechInsights)

Finding manufacturing cost models (BoM) for mobile Li-ion batteries has proved to be a bit of a challenge. Several papers have been published on the manufacturing costs for electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) Li-ion batteries: Argonne National Laboratories (2000 and 2012), Rempel et al. (TIAX presentation 2013), and Wood et al. (J. Power Sciences 2015) to name a few. But we found little in the way of the manufacturing costs for the smaller batteries used in cellphones and laptops. The TIAX presentation provides a $0.47/Wh for PHEV type batteries, and Wood et al. derive a baseline model calculation of $0.50/Wh for the complete battery. This last report was published in 2015 and represents the most recent calculation that we found.

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