IPhone 4S Battery: Power Drains Quickly; Apple Investigates

Users complain of short battery life; Apple silent so far.

Nov. 1, 2011 — -- "Can you hear me now?"


"Can you hear me now?"

More silence. What's the matter with the iPhone 4S? People are reporting, in legions, that the battery runs down remarkably quickly, sometimes in mid-conversation. You can be talking to someone and --

Just look at the 177 pages (and counting) of comments on Apple's own "Apple Support Communities" site.

"Is anyone else having a problem with the iPhone 4s battery life?" wrote a man who said he was from Santa Clarita, Calif. "My 1 year old iPhone 4, which I gave to my wife, is holding a charge better and she has been using it far more than I've been using my 4S."

Apple, so far, has not commented for the record, but it's reportedly queried users about their problems. In the meantime, since the new phone has attracted countless techies, they have countless techie answers. It's not the battery itself, they seem to agree. Instead, they say, it's a quirk in the phone's new iOS 5 operating system.

But just where? Perhaps there's a bug in "Location Services," which tells the phone where it is so that it can give you directions, or steer you to local sellers of things you want. If the phone can't get signals from local cell towers, it sends out signals of its own -- using battery power -- to see if it can get a response.

"We have tested about 5 phones and only found serious battery drain on one," Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies, Inc., which watches Apple closely, wrote in an email. "And on this, when we turn off the location setting for location time changes, it seems to help extend battery life. But this does not [appear] to be an issue on all phones. Only some."

Rob Enderle, another technology analyst, said any new product -- even one from Apple -- is likely to have bugs.

"The 4S is a new phone under the skin," he said in an email, "and virtually every time you make a major change in a device like this the biggest initial risk is that battery life will crater."

Bajarin said you'll hear from Apple soon enough -- once they have figured out there's a problem and fixed it.

"If they find something is amiss, they actually track down the problem and try to solve it quickly," he wrote, "and then talk about the patch for fixing it."

Enderle likened Apple's approach to problems to "Fight Club" -- "Rule one: you don't talk about them; rule two: you don't talk about them." That was what Apple did with Steve Jobs at the helm, and it served them well.

Within a few months, he predicted, they will announce a fix and people will forget anything was ever broken. But will it work with Tim Cook running Apple instead of Jobs?

"It will be interesting to see if the new Apple can contain bad news as well as Steve Jobs' Apple did," said Enderle.

In the meantime, various bloggers suggest going deep into the menus of iOS 5 and turning off Location Services apps you don't need. Does that solve the problem? We hope that takes care of the --