iPhone 4S Battery Problems – Possible Solutions

iPhone 4S users seem to be getting a little upset about the battery not lasting as long as expected. In most cases, users are reporting that the iPhone 4S has a worse battery life than the iPhone 4.

I have a mixed experience with the iPhone 4S compared to the iPhone 4 running iOS 5. Both do really well or both can perform bad depending on what features are used. It’s hard to confirm if this is all hardware related or if Apple just needs to tweak iOS 5 a little more to be more effective at getting the information it needs for location based reminders and iMessage etc… Below is a list of new features that seem to cause the battery to die.

One of the big battery killers seems to be iMessage. Since installing the beta of iOS 5 on an iPhone 4 a few months back my phone battery usage was severely hit. At the time I only sent iMessages to one person (another iOS 5 beta tester). After a reboot of my device and sending no iMessages to that person for a few days I noticed an immediate improvement on battery performance. It appears that iMessage polls the server constantly throughout the day to check if messages are available and to call home so that other iOS 5 devices know if they need to send a text or iMessage. Disabling iMessage should give you a boost in battery performance.

Although not what a lot of people will want, we expect to see an update which will address the battery issue with iMessage.

Next up is location based reminders. This implementation is fantastic but the price you pay is that the GPS is always active (as seen next to the battery indicator on the screenshot above). This appears to increase the amount of battery used and thus, causes your device to drain quicker. I’m unsure at the moment if location based reminders hit the battery hard or not. Since disabling iMessage a couple of hours ago and setting location based reminders running battery is decreasing a lot less than it was the previous hours of the day. Still though, having GPS active all day will drain the battery a little.

iCloud backups – Remember that your iOS 5 device might be configured to backup to iCloud each day. This can be done wirelessly through iTunes and tends to happen through the night. This could be another reason your battery is draining depending on when you charge your iPhone (ie, is it plugged in when backing up).

Users have also hinted at switching off push notifications and push email.

I’ve even seen hints at putting your phone in to Airplane mode which is perhaps one of the silliest ideas of the bunch.

At the end of the day we should be able to make use of all these functions of the device and still make it through the full day on a single charge. I personally have push email, all notifications on and wireless on 24/7 even if no networks are available to connect to. I still think a good day and a half of battery life is possible although iMessage seems to need to be sacrificed the most at the moment. We assume Apple will come up with some tweak on how iMessage communicates with the servers at Apple as well as make iOS 5 more reliable.

As for the iPhone 4S hardware, it does have more power than the iPhone 4 (as in more capabilities), but we’ve also been told that Apple has tuned the CPU and software to be very reliable.

We’ll see where it goes from here.

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