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New iPads push demand for Li-poly batteries

Posted: 13 Apr 2012  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lithium polymer  tablet  ultrabook 

According to EnergyTrend, a research unit of TrendForce Corp., demand for lithium polymer batteries is increasing due to higher power needs. This results in battery cell unit prices falling, which according to the report is primarily caused by the influence on the end market of Apple Inc.'s new iPad.

The new iPad uses the same lithium polymer batteries as its predecessor, but to accommodate the increased power needs of the high-resolution display, 4G data transfer, etc., battery capacity has been upgraded from 2300mAh to 3800mAh, a 65 percent increase.

Lithium polymer batteries have always been highly customizable, but because of the wide variation and low volume of early mobile phones, makers were conservative in terms of capacity and supply. However, the improved hardware specification that has come with the popularity of Apple's iPad, as well as the elevated power requirements of tablets and smartphones, will benefit lithium polymer battery demand, said EnergyTrend.

As for system design, the new iPad's battery still consists of a one in series, three in parallel (1s3p) configuration, so there is little difference in the battery protection board. Battery pack yield rate will face a bit of a challenge, but overall the product trend is a boon to battery makers.

iPad batteries

Comparison of iPad 2 and new iPad batteries

Led by Apple, demand for large lithium polymer batteries has soared in applications from new tablets to ultrabooks. In terms of the manufacturing process, there are no significant differences between large and small lithium polymer batteries—the yield rate difficulties caused by the thinner form factor are still the main issue. However, according to EnergyTrend, currently manufacturers have not yet hit a bottleneck in terms of production capacity.

New iPad

New iPad shipments

Looking at 2Q12 supply and demand, based on scheduled arrivals of new tablet and ultrabook models, demand will increase significantly. This will in turn raise the capacity utilization rate for battery product lines, and large lithium polymer batteries will begin to see significant price reductions.

Furthermore, according to EnergyTrend research, as many new products from manufacturers are still in the initial stages, there is enough capacity to meet demand. Thus, demand-induced price reductions are unlikely in the short term, but in the future when capacity increases, to the point that supply is tight, the industry will see price reductions—the situation will become clearer after Q2.





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