iPhone 4S battery woes: Apple engineers step in

iPhone 4S battery woes: Apple engineers step inThe iPhone 4's launch was marred by signal loss issues when the handset was held a certain way, and now it seems poor battery life is threatening to have a similar effect on the iPhone 4S' early days on the market.

And while it's probably too early to call it a “gate” – as in “antennagate” – it's nonetheless enough of a headache that Apple engineers are getting in touch with affected handset owners directly to help resolve the issue.

According to the official data specs for the iPhone 4S, the fifth generation iPhone boasts battery life as good as or better than its predecessors, with the exception of standby time, which is quoted at 200 hours, down from the iPhone 4's 300 hours and lower than any other previous iPhone too, for that matter.

But Apple forums have been flooded by complaints from iPhone 4S users experiencing nothing like the advertised battery life, and the problem has reached the stage where Apple's engineers have stepped in to try and figure out the cause, asking affected users to install a diagnostics file that may shed some light on the subject.

“My battery life was extremely poor – 10% drop in standby every hour,” one affected user told the Guardian. “I noticed that the usage figure was roughly half that of standby, even when the phone was not being used, so I assumed something was crashing or running in the background. I switched off all the new features including Siri and location services, but it was still really poor. I also tried setting up a clean phone with no apps but it is still really poor.

“I then got a call from a senior [Apple] engineer who said he had read my post and was 'reaching out' to users for data and admitted this was an issue (and that they aren't close to finding a fix!) and asked lots of questions about my usage and then asked if he could install the file below and that he would call back the day after to retrieve the info. I extracted the file from my Mac after a sync and emailed it to him.”

Suggestions are that corrupted MobileMe/iCloud contacts are to blame, while some point the finger of blame in Siri's direction. Several users claim that deleting and then reinstalling contacts fixes the issue, while other say backing up and restoring the entire device is the cure.

But with Apple's own engineer admitting the company doesn't have any idea what is behind the glitch as yet, we'd advise taking any such theories with a pinch of salt at this stage.

Read more about: iOSApple iPhone 4S

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28 comments

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 15:57

another feature they are coping off android...

johnmcga  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:04

Mine's been absolutely fine so far, but then I was upgrading from a three-year oll iPhone 3G which I had to keep pretty much constantly plugged in!

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:06

some people are commenting that it seems worse than the original 3gs at the start... how long can you leave it on standby (screen off) before it needs a charge?

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:16

Treab, the article says half of 10% per hour drain on standby, so that's 5% per hour, which is 20 hours max. battery life, if you never turned the screen on...though I think that's for the 4S, not the 3GS.

To put that into perspective, I can get a week (or so), from my heavily "fiddled", S2 on standby.

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:19

... matty... i said some have been commenting the battery of the 4s is worse than the 3gs was when new ;)

so i was asking john how his was :p

johnmcga  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:20

Well it doesn't last anywhere near a week, that's for sure, but I'd get at least a couple of days if I never turned the screen on.

In day-to-day use it's going down to 30% - 40% left after 24 hours. I guess the amount of usage will affect that enormously though.

I very nearly went for an Android handset, but the iPhone won me over in the end, partly because I already have a fair bit invested in apps and iTunes (I listen to music a lot), and partly because I guess I've bought into Apple's way of doing things.

Maybe I'll have to get an Android tablet to even up the score...

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:21

Fair enough, you didn't seem to be addressing anyone in particular, I'll leave you and John to your conversation then :p...

EDIT: Okay, I won't I'll just join in ;).

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:23

Ouch, this battery drain issue is pretty bad, isn't it?

They're the kind of figures you'd expect from an Android phone, with their classically awful battery lives...

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:25

rofl john ;)

now you seem normal so we can accept one apple fan ;)

but i would say 30-40 is normal for a modern day smartphone and certainly no worse than any others i can think of... (decent smartphones like android ios ones not symbian :p) but it is interesting how apple have made 2 mistakes in the last 2 iterations...

good riddance matt :p nosing into our convo :p

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:26

tbf though that battery life is hardly surprising a dual core phone with a 3.5" high res screen powered by a 1410mAh battery? was never going to hit apples supposed life...

knnx  Oct. 30, 2011 at 16:36

Slightly off topic rant but why are phones in the second decade of the 21st century still using battery technology from the last century?

It seems that with all the advancements in hardware and software, no one really cares, or invests heavily in R&D of the humble battery that powers all kinds of devices. Maybe that's the reason: it's humble, and battery life just needs to be *tolerable* for the consumers. The battery is neither impressive nor any device's main selling point.

Can we see a battery life for flagship smartphones that approaches the legendary battery life of Nokia S40 feature phones? Something that is better than the typical lithium-based battery, dissipates little heat, no memory effect etc?

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 18:02

I have to say, you're a very sensible Apple fan, John, for that I applaud you and wish you a warm welcome to the Mobot community :).

Yeah 30-40% after 24 hours is kinda average nowadays, but iOS is usually better than that. Hopefully Apple can fix the problem with a software update and that'll be the last we hear of the issue :).

HUKD007  Oct. 30, 2011 at 18:26

Mine has been acting as above article said. I was shocked to see battery go 100% to 10% in 5 hours without heavy use.

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 18:32

So this is definitely an actual flaw then? Not just people getting used to having a massively more powerful processor without an equal change in battery capacity?

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 18:50

by the sounds of it, it sounds like a flaw as peoples experiences are soo different...

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 18:58

siri finally ported over to other ios devices... not entirely legal however...

Your text here

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 18:59

siri finally ported over to other ios devices... not entirely legal however...

siri ported..

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 19:00

I'm glad Apple are being sensible about this, engineers contacting customers, accepting there's a problem and admitting they don't currently have a fix. It's an admirable way to deal with customers.

You can tell Jobs (and his arrogance), are gone, remember last year "you're holding it wrong", (then they decided people just happened to deserve free bumpers to stop the apparently non-existent problem)...I think Apple may have turned a corner...so far, I'm very impressed.

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 19:01

Siri was always going to make it onto many more devices, dual-core processor only, why couldn't the iPad 2 have Siri then ;)?

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 19:05

matt... your assuming that apple are admitting to it... at the moment they aren't they are looking into issues and asking people to implement a piece of software to find out if anything is wrong...

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 19:18

'reaching out' to users for data and admitted this was an issue

Admission much?

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 19:21

one affected user told the Guardian

believe tabloids much?

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 19:25

Fair point...though if Apple are willing to do anything other than dismiss this as non-existent, I'd say that's as close to an admission as we're going to get.

Treab  Oct. 30, 2011 at 19:28

the fact is apple has admitted nothing and never will, simply cause no company ever does... even when companies announce a recall its usually we are working to re-assure our customers its never an admission of guilt ;)

matt101101 / MOD  Oct. 30, 2011 at 19:36

I was never expecting "we were wrong", but this is pretty good, so far :). We can agree they seem to be handling it better than the antenna issues last summer...

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