Why Your iPhone 4S May Be Running Out Of Battery Quickly
So far, reports on the new iPhone, the 4S, from Apple have been generally positive although recently a smattering of reports have occurred relating to the battery life suddenly dropping. There have been several stories reported so far, in the technology press, including T3, in their article “Apple iPhone 4S Problems: Short battery life & other issues” who said “The Apple iPhones have never been known for their long battery life”, whilst the Guardian recently reported, in their article “Apple engineers contacting iPhone 4S owners to solve battery life puzzle”, that an Apple Engineer has reached out to a user who talked about the issue online and had reportedly admitted their may be an issue. Even earlier, Macworld, in their article “Troubleshooting a battery-sucking iPhone 4S” said “Over the course of an hour when the phone was supposedly idling its charge would drop 20 percent and the thing ran hot.”
On the Apple website for the 4S the standby time is said to be up to 200 hours (although the type and capacity of the battery are unstated), with up to 6 hours internet use on 3G and up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi whilst, for comparison, the iPad 2 Wi-Fi and 3G specification states a 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery with up to 9 hours “surfing the web” – so what is going on?
There are a number of areas where the problem may lie:
Hardware – The iPhone has not been immune to hardware issues, particularly when we remember the antenna problem, that some users reported on the iPhone 4 and of course there have been screen-bleeding issues reporting on the iPad 2 so we cannot, at this point, rule out some hardware issue that may be affecting certain 4S batches. There are a number of hardware factors that could
Processor – with so much more going on in the iPhone 4S, and with the redesigned internals that Apple talked about at the launch, the processor could be overworking to keep things running smoothly. It is unfortunate that there is no system process monitor, or similar, available on the iPhone itself as it could offer up some really useful information relating to how the device is being used.
iOS 5 – there have been some significant updates in how iOS 5 works, particularly around the notifications system and location based data – both of which could affect battery life. However, if the issue were purely iOS 5 related we might expect users of the iPad and other iPhone models to report similar battery life issues as they upgrade to iOS 5.
Notifications – The new notification mechanism has been a big feature of iOS 5. So, if you have high levels of notifications, with high usage services also playing sounds, this might affect battery life. As an example, on my 4S, there are a whole bunch of services that are set to “On” for notifications including Weather Widget, Phone, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Find Friends, Google+, Twitter, Mail, Game Center, Foursquare, and the Stock Widget. Many of these I don’t particularly need notifications for so I have switched notifications for them off under “Settings”.
Siri – the latest innovation in iPhone technology is currently 4S only however there does not appear to be any reports of users specifically experiencing Siri related battery issues.
iCloud – iCloud, with its background synchronisation, could be a possibility particularly if you have multiple devices sharing the same iCloud account together with lots of information to synchronise.
I am going to be testing a number of these observations over the week ahead by running my 4S for hour-long periods with particular services enabled and disabled and I have also download a system activity monitor from the App Store which will hopefully report information about what is going on inside the device. Also, I have been checking out the Data page of the Diagnostics & Usage section of my 4S and there are a whole bunch of LowMemory and a great deal of awdd_ log entries – the awdd log entries seem to indicate network activity.
This is a work in progress and I will report back my findings on this page however please do bear in mind this will be experiences of just one iPhone 4S so it’s not exactly a scientific test – if you have a 4S please share you experiences and observations, if any, of the reported battery life issue.
UPDATE: The Guardian are reporting that the battery issue may be related to do with “Setting Time Zone” under “Location Services”, “System Services” as for some users this service seems to be running repeatedly. The Guardian say this particular service could quickly drain the battery as it uses a combination of network information including mast data, GPS, and Wi-Fi. Interestingly, this icon IS purple on my 4S (which denotes the service is active).
UPDATE: Yesterday morning I checked my phone and it had 10% battery remaining. On the lock screen a number of iMessage notifications were displayed. After only a few minutes of use (including my son briefly playing a game) the phone powered down as the battery had drained.
UPDATE: To switch on the percentage display of the battery life head into Settings, Usage and slide “Battery Percentage” under “Battery Usage” to On. There is also useful information no this screen that shows the time since the last full charge and how much usage you have had.
UPDATE: I have been playing around with notifications to see if it makes any difference. This is under Settings, then Notifications. The only notifications I have enabled so far include Weather Widget, Phone, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Find Friends, Twitter, Mail and Skype.
UPDATE: According to a report in AllThingsDigital Apple have said “We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.”