NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc.'s (AAPL.O) iPhone will have a longer-lasting battery than it originally expected, exceeding those in rival phones, the company said on Monday.
Apple shares rose almost 4 percent as analysts said the company put to rest two of several concerns about the iPhone, which combines a music player and cell phone. It is due to hit stores on June 29.
Apple said the iPhone would provide up to eight hours of talk time, or six hours of Internet use. In January, it said the battery would last as long as five hours of talk time. An Apple representative would not say how it achieved the improvements.
Apple also said the top surface of the touch-screen phone, which will sell for about $500 (250 pounds) to $600 through a subscription with AT&T Inc. (T.N), has been upgraded from plastic to optical-quality glass, making it more resistant to scratches.
Because users will control the phone by moving their fingers across its screen, the materials used could be crucial to the acceptance and durability of the phone, analysts said.
AT&T, the biggest U.S. wireless provider, has an exclusive agreement to sell the phone in the United States for at least two years. The company has said that more than a million people have inquired about the phone via e-mail.
But wireless experts have questioned whether Apple's first phone, built off the success of its iPod music and video player, will live up to the industry hype ahead of its launch.
"It all depends what (consumers) use it for, but I think it would make quite a bit of difference ... versus traditional smartphone talk times," Yankee Group analyst Lauren Cotes said, comparing the iPhone's eight hours of talk time to rival devices with four or five hours.
The iPhone battery cannot be easily removed, unlike those of traditional cell phones, so power efficiency is an even more important feature in this device, Cotes said.
Shaw Wu of American Technology Research questioned whether the phone would live up to its claims.
"We hope those times are accurate, but our sources have indicated iPhone's active use battery life may be closer to around 4-5 hours for heavy use, similar to other smart phones," Wu said in a note to clients. He did not name his source.
Apple shares closed up $4.59, or 3.8 percent, at $125.09 on Nasdaq.
A BATTLE FOR BATTERIES
Manufacturers are always battling to improve the battery life of cell phones, as constant communication with radio broadcast towers tends to drain power more quickly than unconnected consumer electronics devices.
Smartphones such as the iPhone also need lots of power as they also aim to handle Web browsing, personal data storage and music and video playback.
Apple said its battery claims are dependent upon specific configurations and "many other factors." Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock said the January battery-life estimate was based on a pre-production model of the iPhone.
Analysts said Apple had likely kept power management as a priority in writing the phone's operating software and used the best available battery technology for the device.
"I think it's a combination of factors, better battery technology, more efficient software and also hardware, such as power management chips," said Wu.
Sony Ericsson, a venture of Sony Corp. (6758.T) and Ericsson (ERICb.ST), has touted a talk time of up to 9 hours for some of its Walkman music-playing phone models.
The Upstage music playing phone from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd (005930.KS) has a battery life of up to 6.3 hours, according to Sprint Nextel Corp. (S.N), which sells the phone.
Apple said all told, the iPhone can support up to eight hours of talk time, seven hours of video playback, or 24 hours of audio playback.
(Additional reporting by Franklin Paul)