IPhone to have better battery life, upgraded surface

Apple Inc. said Monday that when its iPhone ships June 29, its battery will deliver eight hours of talk time, up from the five hours Apple described in a preliminary report that came out in January.

The increase to eight hours would bring the iPhone "closer to other cell phones," said Jeff Kagan, an Atlanta-based independent analyst. "Battery power is one of many key items customers look for. Nobody wants a dead phone even if it is the coolest new item on the market."

Apple also announced that the entire top surface of the device, including the 3.5-inch display, has been upgraded from plastic to optical-quality glass to resist scratches and to improve clarity.

The durability of the touch display has been a concern of some potential users since controls of the iPhone are done with a "tap, flick or pinch of the fingers," as Apple put it.

According to Apple research, the iPhone would be the only display surface made of glass compared with four other recently released multi-function devices that deploy plastic: Nokia's N95, Samsung's Blackjack, the Blackberry Curve 8300 and Palm's Treo 750.

Apple also said its battery life will allow six hours of Internet use, up from five hours in the January estimate; seven hours of video playback time, up from five hours; and 24 hours of audio playback time, up from 16 hours. Standby time will be 250 hours, Apple said.

"With eight hours of talk time, and 24 hours of audio playback, iPhone's battery life is longer than any other smart phone and even long than most MP3 players," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a release.

Apple didn't describe what caused the increase in battery performance in its official statement, but an Apple spokeswoman said the January numbers were "preliminary estimates." When asked if Apple had re-engineered its power management software to save power, she said, "certainly," but declined further comment.

Kagan added a caveat, noting that users of iPhones will be using them more than users of traditional cell phones. "The screen is cool to look at and begs you to touch it and play with it," Kagan said. "All that time sucks the battery dry. We have to see if this extended battery [time] is enough."

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