iPhone 4S Battery Life Woes: Details and Solutions – Wired News

A growing number of iPhone 4S owners are reporting battery problems with Apple’s newest handheld. The device seems to be draining unusually quickly during both regular use and when on standby.

Users in Apple forums are describing battery life drops of up to 20 percent in the span of a single hour of light usage. Others report losing 10 to 15 percent of their battery life while they’re sleeping — something very troubling if you rely on your iPhone as an alarm clock.

“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 reporting similar battery problems since upgrading to iOS 5. (We in the Gadget Lab, however, haven’t had any problems since making the OS leap.)

Although Apple hasn’t yet officially commented on the issue, according to The Guardian, some of those affected by battery life problems 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 problem.

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. For more power-intensive activities, battery life suffers accordingly. Heavy Internet use drops total battery life to 6 hours on 3G, and 9 hours on WiFi. Interestingly, watching video will give you 10 hours of battery life on the 4S — two more hours than continuous phone usage.

Although the 4S has a slightly larger capacity battery than what you’ll find in an iPhone 4, the iPhone 4 is supposed to get 100 more hours of standby time. The battery-draining culprit? More demanding hardware. The iPhone 4S has a beefed up A5 processor and several other hardware upgrades. And this isn’t the first time an “S” version has vexed iPhone users. When the iPhone 3GS debuted, it also suffered from battery life complaints.

Despite a growing reputation for battery life problems, iPhone 4S sales continue to be strong. The device debuted in more than 20 European countries last week, and on November 11 will begin launching in a slew of other spots around the globe, including potentially big markets like Hong Kong and South Korea. And in case you’re wondering: No, the battery life issues have not been pinpointed to one particular service area or geographical location.

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 (or rather, until the almost-spent device powers off itself), and then letting it fully charge back up, uninterrupted.

Another user in Apple’s forums found that disabling the calendar in his Exchange mail account, and then enabling it again, dramatically improved battery life.

If neither of those fixes seem to help, try adjusting your settings. In addition to normal battery-saving techniques like lowering screen brightness, turning off Wi-Fi, and switching to Airplane Mode (if you can handle being off the grid), you can turn off all location-based services, or just those on specific apps. You can also switch off push updating for email, and manually fetch mail instead. Check out this article on Gizmodo for more details and additional tips.

Are you experiencing iPhone 4S battery drain? Share your problems (or lack thereof) in the comments.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired