What's Going On With The iPhone 4S Battery?

The original iPhone 4 stumbled out of the gate with an infamous antenna issue that left many users very disappointed. And while the problem was eventually resolved in a modified housing that carried forward to the recently released iPhone 4S, the latest model seems to be suffering from its own serious performance issues.

Battery life. Whether or not it's fixable with a software patch, special trick or voodoo incantation, one thing is for sure: It's a problem.

In a thread titled "iPhone 4s Battery Life?" on Apple's official support forums, there are already thousands of posts with unofficial test results and theories as to why the iPhone 4S's battery life isn't up to snuff. And there are more than 100,000 views from users trying to find an answer. It seems like not even Apple knows what's going on just yet.

A couple of days ago we reported on a story in The Guardian that Apple's senior engineers had been contacting users complaining about battery life issues. One user in particular had found their iPhone 4S battery draining in excess of 10 per cent every hour, even when in standby mode with features like Siri and location services completely deactivated. And after asking them detailed questions about their usage, an Apple engineer had them sync and install a special file that would presumably provide more details about the problem.

But at the moment there is no official solution, no definitive answer, and no word from Apple as to why it's happening -- or when a fix might be on the way. Just speculation as to what might be the cause and reports on how bad it is. Over in the MacRumors forums, one user reported a dead phone four hours after going to sleep with at least 60 per cent battery life remaining.

Went to bed last night around 1130 PM with 60 per cent battery life. Closed all open apps. Got up around 330 AM for a restroom run and noticed my phone was dead. That's scary because my iPhone is my alarm clock! I am on the phone all the time - even so the iPhone 4 yielded twice the usage as I'm getting now with my iPhone 4S. It's a great phone, but this battery issue is a pain!

So if it's not an issue with a specific app, maybe the problem lies with how the iPhone 4S is reporting or detecting its current charge levels? In another post on the MacRumors forum, a user managed to resolve their battery life issues by simply draining their 4S all the way until it powered down, then charging it back up to 100 percent:

1) Drain the battery until the phone shuts off on its own. 2) Charge it non-stop back to 100 per cent (Should take 2 - 3 hrs)

When I first started draining the phone, I was losing about 5-7 per cent per hour in standby. As the battery drained, the rate the percentage was dropping got slower and when it got to 1 per cent, it sat there for almost an hour. Then it finally shut itself off. I recharged back to 100 per cent in one sitting, and now it's got the same or better battery life my 3GS had that I was upgrading from.

So we know there are plenty of you who've already upgraded to the iPhone 4S and have had the chance to spend a couple of weeks with it. Do you have any tricks? Horror stories? Let us know in the comments.



    Mine is all fine! I upgraded from the 3GS, Lasting me all day & prob sitting at around 50 to 60% when i get home of a night. That's a lot more than i ever got from my 3GS & loads more than my galaxy S 2 ever got me...

      Same as me, I went from a 3GS with less than desirable battery capacity to a 4S with generally impressive battery capacity. I use my phone quite heavily during the day and still come home with 40-50% power left

    Hey I noticed my battery life was similar to this. I had tried removing location services from reminders. I'd previously done a Siri reminder "remind me to call my sister when I leave work". I also used restrictions to disable ping. One of these things fixed the problem with me because my battery life is just like my iPhone with little drain in standby.

    Could it actually be heaps of people are not setting the charge cycle properly and thus the battery life isn't as long. I'm not sure about the details of modern Li-po batteries.

    Impossible! Apple products are flawless.

      Sure beats the shit Samsung release.

        I don't know this biz about shit samsung, I have both the 4s(private) and galaxy s(work), they are running roughly the same aps and I use the samsung phone more for calls, the samsung lasts 12-14 hours longer than the iphone.
        As usual us apple lovers show we are technology racists

        Well, I have both in my household. My teenage kids only want one - the galaxy 2S.

        IMHO the IP4+-S is an outdated heavy lump of lead cf to the SG2S.

        Put the two side by side and you will immediately see the difference.

    I'm still on my iPhone 1 that's 5 years old and has plenty of battle scars. The need to upgrade is slim with these reviews :/

      Wow, I thought I was doing well to keep a Nokia 6230i going for 5 years.... But thats back when there was nothing better on offer.

      Surely the huge smorgasbord of delicious Android phones (and even iPhones I guess) is tempting you to enjoy something with a resolution greater than a CASIO wristwatch?

        Hmm yeah some people have had terrible experiences with iPods/iPhones, but my experience has been largely positive - I've had a 30Gb iPod Classic which I bought in 2005 (or so...) which survived 5 years of tough love. And it had moving parts... I can't believe it lasted that long when some people can't keep them going for more than a few months. I don't know what I was doing right.

    I did 3 full charge cycles with mine! Always do with any new phone..

      You don't know how batteries work do you Paul, and to think you're on a tech blog too...

    I do have the same problem but I use down to 2% then I turn off my phone and charge to full 100%.

    now kind of back to normal, 2-3hours lost 5%/7% with 4 apps open, wifi on, location off.

    It has to be file corruption or data related issues, as my 4's from day one has performed flawlessly. An average working day begins at 6 am, making calls, answering texts and emails, demoing siri and making appointments and using maps to travel to the next job. I took note of the battery percentage around 9pm each night with it staying around 60-70%. If I used the camera or played the odd game, only then would it go below 50%. If it were me having this problem, I'd delete then re-download iOS 5 and setup the phone as a new phone. I setup mine as a new phone as I had some issues with my 3Gs and didn't want anything crossing over in a restore from backup. Yes, a pain to re-add all apps, music etc, but worth the effort to start a new phone clean as a whistle.

    my 4s is fine but my 4 suffered battery drain.

      I wonder if its a poor reception issue again, I have found that my phones (not just my iphone) eats battery when in a poor reception area.

        Poor reception drains the power on any phone,in a saturated area the phone can turn the power out of the radio down. However in a poor reception area the radio power needs to be increased so it can reach the cell tower.

    Here we go again, experience has taught us several things about apple.
    DON'T buy a new release, they are too rushed.
    DON'T update the previous models software after a new release. For some reason the previous model suddenly has issues.
    WAIT SIX months for the bugs to be ironed out.
    Apple may be truly great innovators but are not great at customer satisfaction. I think its a greed issue.

      Actually, Apple is one of the top couple of companies for high customer service and satisfaction along with Amazon.

      Trying to think where I last saw the chart that had a lot of well known companies and their ranking, it's all based of the promoter/detractor system, so only ratings of 8-10 are promoters etc.

      Either way, Apple was in the high 80's/90's out of 100, where as comparison Telstra/Optus/VHA were all round the -10/-20 mark.

      Um, maybe you didn't read my earlier post, but I, like most probably the majority, don't have any issue here. What say you? Perhaps its when people restore the phone from a previous backup that might bring on issues? Or is it just easier to blame Apple and every phone they've ever made?

    Its not related to having a dual core which chews through batteries?

    I have the exact same issue. 2 nights in a row my iPhone 4 (not S) would go from 60% battery too dead in under 5 hours, causing me too be late for work twice in 1 week.

    Very Unimpressed.

    My 4 and my partners 3GS are both suffering from battery drain.

    My partner was using a Tom-Tom style GPS app for about 15 minutes, her battery was on between 50-60%. She made sure she closed the app in the background once finished. 2 hours later I tried calling her and her phone was completely dead!

    I have found on my 4 that as long as my wi-fi is off, I don't have email on Push and I close all background apps that connect to the internet (Safari etc) that the battery is 'almost' back to normal.

    Restoring the phone as a New Phone (not from a backup) fixes the battery drain issue.

    I upgraded my 3GS to iOS 5 and iCloud the day they came out, and suddenly started getting massive battery drain. The phone ran hot while sleeping, and ran out the battery in a couple of hours.

    I bought an iPhone 4S outright and set it up using the backup from the 3GS. It also ran hot and ran flat in about half a day.

    I tried turning off all the rumoured sources, including completely turning off Location Services, Auto Timezone, etc. I also turned off Find My iPhone and Find My Friends and even Siri. Still ran hot until the battery was gone.

    I fixed it on both phones by doing a complete Restore in iTunes and set them up as a New iPhone. I had to manually reinstall my apps again, arrange them again and log in to each one again (massive pain), but ever since then everything has worked fine on both phones and great battery life. I have Auto Timezone turned ON. However, I'm not using iCloud Backup yet, and turned location services off on Siri (because of the bug where Siri doesn't know the time any more).

    My conclusion is that some app or service goes into a meltdown loop due to some migration bug.

    My advise to battery drain sufferers is to Restore and set up your phone as a New Phone. Anyone else concur?

      Exactly. From the start, I set up as a new phone as this happens more often than not. Corrupt data files from users or 3rd party apps will do this. The phone is probably trying to perform a background task set by a previous data file on another phone. I never had a problem. Ive been setting my phones up as new, from the old 3G days. Worked every time.

    reminds me of this:

    I don't understand why people don't charge their phones when they go to sleep, surely you'd want a full battery when you wake up and not to have to worry that your phone will die in the middle of the night and the alarms won't go off. SURELY!?


      Oh, but that kills the battery because of overcharging. LOLS People are idiots. iPhone users are the worst.

        As are you. You can't over charge a Lithium Ion battery. You only need to discharge to zero once in a while, to regulate a full battery cycle so the battery chip doesn't think the phone s flat when its actually at 40%. Who's the idiot? Any troll like yourself perhaps?

    It's definitely the "Automatic Timezone" function. I turned it off this morning and my battery is still 100%! normally I'd be on 90% or less

      Update: it's now the end of the day and I'd usually be on 50% or there abouts. I'm on 82%!

    No real issues on my end, even with everything turned on. My tip to make the battery last longer is usually just turning the brightness down. At the end of a work day with heavy use of the ipod side of things, looking at emails, juggling events on the calendar, answering calls, sending messages, etc still sees me with about 50ish%.

    My older 3GS didn't have battery issues either.

    Maybe its just a battery batch issue?

    Another thing to consider is your expectations of great battery life. I've learnt long ago that expecting more than a day or two of battery life when you use the phone fairly heavily is just going to be disappointing. I therefore charge it up almost every night or have it plugged into my work laptop during the day to recharge it once it drops below 35%.

      Don't mean to rain on your parade, but it's more than just battery issue. Go read the 50,000,000 posts about it. If it were that simple it wouldn't be news

        Sorry, can you post a link to the 50 million posts? Considering there aren't that many phones produced, I'll take your comment as a stupid rant, and ignore anything else you care to "share". I have a 4s, and I know 4 others, which none have any issues with battery drain. That's 100% pass so far.

          Kroo - don't feed the troll.

          Look at his earlier comment about the automatic timezone functionality eating away at his battery.

    I would like to see a phone released with a big old fashioned circular dial on the front. You know, the old style phones where you had to ring a number by spinning a dial. I would buy one, if only for the novelty value. Maybe that is the way forward. Everything old is new again!

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