At the end of last year, I replaced an iPhone 7 Plus with an OnePlus 5T, after deciding against the iPhone 8 Plus (too similar to justify the upgrade) and the X (not worth the money). While researching this purchase, I couldn’t help notice the significant battery capacity difference between an iPhone 8 Plus (2,691mah) and the OnePlus 5T (3330mah). The much bigger battery on the OnePlus is surprising given that it is an almost-identical form factor, has a much larger full-front screen, and has a headphone jack.

Apple has been making phones for much longer than OnePlus and is a significantly bigger and better-funded company. So why are they selling phones that struggle to provide sufficient internal storage for their batteries?

To understand this, we need to look at the history of the iPhone 8. It’s the third revision of the iPhone 6 design that was introduced in 2014. But the original design actually had a larger battery – the 6 Plus has 2915mah. Each revision has made changes that affected the capacity:

1. In 2015, the 6S introduced 3D Touch, whose extra hardware reduced the battery capacity of the Plus-sized model by around 5%, to 2750mah.
2. In 2016, the iPhone 7 introduced a larger Taptic Engine, so something had to give to avoid fitting an even smaller battery than the 6S. This (not courage) is the real reason why the headphone socket was removed. It put battery capacity back in line with the original iPhone 6 Plus design, at 2900mah.
3. In 2017, the iPhone 8 introduced wireless charging, requiring an inductive coil and a glass back. This undid the gains made by the 7, and then some. Battery capacity fell to just 2,691mah on the Plus.

Whenever battery capacity was reduced in a new model, Apple always said that it wouldn’t make any difference because they offset the loss by efficiency improvements in software and hardware. This isn’t always the case. With the iPhone 6s, benchmarks by Ars Technica showed the 6S Plus battery life down by around 7% in the web browsing tests. Although the 7 improved matters, the 8 Plus came in around 4% worse than the 7.

3D Touch

Apple must have felt optimistic about the potential for 3D Touch because they decided it was worth the trade-off of a 5% reduction in a battery. As with the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, it’s clever technology but of debatable user benefit. Android doesn’t have an equivalent of 3D Touch, but it’s home screen icons offer very similar context menus from a long press, and it works perfectly well. 3D Touch doesn’t live up to its promise because iOS still has to support older devices without it. Look at how deleting an app still requires a long press on a 3D Touch phone. It could be much slicker as an option on the 3D Touch menu.

Wireless charging

With wireless charging, the trade-off is even bigger than 3D Touch – around 10% of battery capacity was sacrificed to make way for the glass back and inductive loop. Wireless charging should prove convenient and popular with users, so perhaps the trade-off is worth it, but 10% is a lot.

Screen technology

Almost all top-tier Android phones moved to OLED screen technology years ago, which is thinner than LCD because it requires no backlight. Until the iPhone X, Apple insisted that OLED screens weren’t good enough, and stayed with LCD. The combination of an LCD screen in a very thin phone does limit available space for other components.


After looking at the history of the 6/7/8 series of phones, a story emerges of repeatedly adding significant new technologies into a design that was made to be as thin as possible. Instead of redesigning the case to provide more internal space, compromises were made with battery capacity and the headphone jack. Given the premium price of the iPhone and the highly competitive smartphone sector, this is a questionable strategy. It’s as if Apple itself was unable to compromise and make the phone larger, lacking the confidence to deal with criticism.

With the iPhone X, Apple has switched to OLED screen technology and optimized its internal layout to accommodate a much larger battery relative to the size of the phone. Unfortunately, despite charging premium prices for the iPhone 8 with its four-year-old design, they think customers should pay a premium on top of that for a modern design.


According to the ticket stub, it was 15th December 2016 when we went to a Red Hot Chili Peppers gig in Manchester. We met up in town after work, went for some food in the Corn Exchange, and then went into the Arena. Up first was the supporting act – the fun and frenetic Baby Metal. Almost as entertaining as the band themselves was looking around the audience to see who looked the most freaked out by the J-Pop outfit.

Then the main act came on. It was actually my wife who wanted to see the Chili’s, but it was a treat to see such a good gig. Anyone who can manage to sound good in the echo-filled Manchester Arena is a class act, and the light show was beautiful. So good in fact, that like everyone else we took lots of photos and videos on our phones.

Back at home, later on, I opened Facebook for the usual mindless scroll through my feed. But sitting at the top of the screen was something I’d never seen before. It was a banner that said, “Dorian, we’ve made a video of your evening out to share with your friends”. The link opened up a video edited together from the photos and video clips I’d taken over the evening. What?!?!?

I’m not sure if this feature rolled out to everyone or if it was something they were testing on a selection of people, but it didn’t go down well with me. They’d helped themselves to my photo library, and processed it without my consent.

Technically, I had granted Facebook access to my photos, but that permission had been abused. When anyone wants to post a photograph on Facebook, they have to grant the app access to their Photo library just to be able to select a photo. Once the app has this permission, it can access photos in the background without user interaction, which is quite a different thing. Apple should definitely consider splitting this permission into two – one for selecting a photo and another for full access to the library, even for apps running in the background. Even so, it was still Facebook that took advantage – and it shouldn’t always be on Apple to have to firewall their users from apps made by tech companies that should know better.

Then there was the question of how Facebook knew I was on a night out – how exactly did their algorithm work this out? Did it notice my location was a well-known entertainment venue? Or was it looking at the number of photos taken that evening? Even worse, was Facebook running my images through AI and recognizing it as a concert? However they did this, it’s creepy.

It would also be interesting to know where the processing to build the video took place. If they uploaded my media to Facebook’s servers and processed it there, that’s naughty. If they made the video locally on my phone, that’s more acceptable from a privacy point of view, but then there’s the hit on battery life that I took. And if they did process it locally, how did they manage to keep the app running in the background long enough to do it, when iOS is so good at preventing this? There’s been evidence of Facebook turning on the microphone (mimicking audio recording) as a way of tricking iOS to keep their app open for longer in the background.

I have never posted on Facebook again since that evening. My first defensive step was to revoke access to my photographs and carry on using the app, but it didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t trust the app at all so it was uninstalled. Occasionally, I’ll open Facebook in a browser and check on how the friends I don’t see regularly are getting on. I clicked the like button on all the birthday message I got recently, and feel guilty that I won’t be sending any back. So far, I have resisted deleting my account.

Since I stopped posting, the justifications for not using it have only grown. It’s been abused by fringe political groups and Russian intelligence operations and directly affected UK and US political outcomes. They’ve caused dangerous situations in countries like the Philippines, where the government uses it as a platform to incite violence against news organizations trying to report on human rights violations.

The only thing I can do to show my dissatisfaction with the way Facebook run their network is to delete my account completely, which I pledge to do in 2019.