Let's face it: battery life in smartphones is pretty awful, with only a few devices that are actually worthy of a battery-life crown. However, what if smartphones were powered by solar cells? That would basically change how we use devices, and we would essentially not have to worry about battery life anymore. A new patent from Apple may very well point to a possible solar-powered iPhone in the future.
Yesterday the US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple patent #8,368,654 titled "Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly." According to the patent's abstract, the solar cell array consists of "electrodes that are used both for collecting solar energy and for sensing on a touch sensor array," meaning that the touchscreen can also act as a solar panel.
The diagram above shows off how the solar cell array would work. It's not much to look at really, and it's a very basic illustration, but it provides a bit context to what seems like a nearly impossible concept. However, the illustration shows that the technology can automatically switch between solar-charging mode and touch mode once it detects a finger tap.
Obviously, this is just a patent and it doesn't prove anything as far as if Apple will actually release a solar-powered device, but it does make us curious as to what the Cupertino-based company has cooking. Of course, if a solar-powered iPhone is indeed on the way, it certainly won't be for quite a while, so be prepared to wait it out.