Column: The iPhone 4S battery problem

— -- The quiet grumblings from individual iPhone 4S users have grown over the last couple weeks.

Their frustrations have given credence to what many believed within hours of opening their new smartphone: the iPhone 4S has a serious battery issue.

Great battery life had long been a strong point of the iPhone line, but many found their new iPhone 4S shedding battery life at a fast clip.

Many have posted online, complaining about losing as much as 15% of the battery an hour, even when the phone is not being actively used.

I, too, have seen poor battery life on the 4S. The iPhone 4 I used before lasted quite a bit longer. When I would plug in my iPhone 4 at the end of the day, I would usually have about 25% remaining. With the iPhone 4S, I often can't make it until evening after a full charge in the morning.

I've taken to using an iPhone charger at my desk at work, something I never had to do with the iPhone 4.

A customer support thread on Apple's Web site has had more than 2,600 replies and been seen more than 170,000 times.

The Guardian reported late last week that Apple engineers have contacted some iPhone 4S users, asking them to place a file on the phone that would track the phone's performance and help Apple diagnose the apparent problem.

If there's a silver lining here, it's that the cause is likely a software issue. The battery in the iPhone 4S actually has a higher watt-hours capacity than the iPhone 4, according to a teardown by iFixIt.

But with the introduction in iOS 5 of a faster processor and a system-wide notification center, it's certainly possible that a software process is responsible for bringing the iPhone 4S to its knees faster.

A popular fix floating around the Web has worked for me.

Users can turn off the phone's attempts to constantly make sure it's in the current time zone, which can save on battery life. That might be a pain for the few users who often cross time zones. But for most people it shouldn't be an issue.

To turn off the setting, go to: Settings -> Location Services -> System Services and turn off Setting Time Zone.

This has definitely extended my iPhone 4S's battery life, but it still hasn't made it last as long as the iPhone 4.

Hopefully a bigger software fix will come from Apple soon.