UPDATE: Apple officially commented on the issue to Wired.com: “A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices. 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.”
A growing number of iPhone 4S owners are reporting battery problems with Apple’s newest handheld. The device seems to be draining unusually fast during regular use, as well as when it’s not being used at all.
Users in Apple forums are describing up to 15 or 20 percent drops in battery in the span of one hour during times of light usage. Others report losing 10 to 15 percent battery at night while they are sleeping — something potentially very troubling if you are relying on your iPhone as your alarm clock the next morning.
“My battery life is terrible,” one person in the forum wrote. “I was iMessaging my friend about it (on Wi-Fi) and over the course of 12-15 minutes I lost 10 percent battery life.” Another said he was issued a new phone after reporting the issue.
The problem is primarily affecting 4S owners, but some iPad and iPhone 4 owners are experiencing similar battery problems since upgrading to iOS 5 (this reporter has not — my iPhone 4’s battery life has remained unchanged since the upgrade).
Although Apple has not yet officially commented on the issue, according to The Guardian, some of those affected by the issue have been contacted by Apple’s engineers. One individual said that Apple called and, after asking a number of questions about his usage habits, asked him to install a monitoring program so that they could better diagnose the issue.
The iPhone 4S has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It’s supposed to provide up to 8 hours of 3G talk time (14 hours of 2G) and standby time of up to 200 hours. Although it’s a slight larger (capacity-wise) battery than that of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4 is supposed to get 300 hours of standby time. For more intensive activities like internet use and watching videos, on the iPhone 4S you get 6 hours on 3G and 9 hours on WiFi, and 10 hours, respectively. The iPhone 4S has a beefed up A5 processor and several other hardware upgrades and changes compared to its predecessor. When the iPhone 3GS debuted, it also suffered from battery life complaints.
But there’s no new-iPhone-problem more infamous than 2010’s Antennagate. The problem surrounded the placement of the antennas on the steel band around the newly released iPhone 4. Holding your phone it what came to be known as the “death grip” resulted in your phone’s signal strength dropping dramatically, falling three or four bars. Apple’s solution was to issue plastic bumpers to those afflicted. The problem, although widely publicized, had little affect on iPhone sales, though: the iPhone 4 continued to be a top-selling smartphone for both AT&T, and then Verizon, through this last quarter.
Likewise, iPhone 4S sales also continue to be strong. The device debuted in over twenty European countries last week, and will begin launching in a slew of other spots around the globe, including potentially big markets like Hong Kong and South Korea, Nov. 11.
The issue has not been pinpointed to one particular service or problem-area.
If you’re suffering from iPhone 4S battery drain, there are a few solutions you can try. Many users have reported improved battery life after draining the device completely (that is, until the device powers off), and then letting it fully charge back up in an uninterrupted sitting.
Another user in Apple’s forums found that disabling the calendar in their Exchange mail account and then enabling it again dramatically improved their battery life.
If neither of those fixes seem to be helping, try adjusting your settings. In addition to normal battery-saving techniques like lowering screen brightness or turning off Wi-Fi or switching to Airplane Mode when you don’t mind being off the grid, you can turn off location-based services, or just on the apps you don’t need monitoring your whereabouts constantly. You can also switch off push notifications for email, switching to fetch at longer intervals instead. You can check out this article on Gizmodo for more details and additional tips.