Two weeks after the iPhone 4S release, Apple is quietly reaching out to users who have experienced serious battery drainage problems — and asking them to help by installing a monitoring program.
The crowdsourced approach came to light courtesy of The Guardian, which found a user in the UK who had been contacted by Apple after he wrote about his battery life problems online. “I then got a call from a senior engineer who said he had read my post and was ‘reaching out’ to users for data,” the user said. He had been experiencing a 10% drop in battery life every hour.
The Apple engineer then “admitted this was an issue (and that they aren’t close to finding a fix!) and asked lots of questions about my usage and then asked if he could install the file below and that he would call back the day after to retrieve the info.”
Apple has sent mixed messages about the iPhone 4S battery life since its launch. The company’s data sheet notes that the phone’s standby time is 200 hours, which is lower than previous models — but Apple also says the 4S has a longer battery life when it comes to 3G talk time.
Although the battery issue hasn’t quite reached Antennagate levels, it is lighting up the Apple message boards. One user post on “iPhone 4S battery life” has received 1,300 replies and nearly 100,000 views since Oct. 15.
No consensus has been reached on what is causing the drainage. Some 4S owners have been able to fix it by doing a clean restore of their phone from iTunes. Others point the finger at Contacts, especially those imported from MobileMe, iCloud or Google contacts, and have found success by reinstalling them.
Another possible culprit is the new Notifications system in iOS 5, which can overload a phone with constant pings from services such as Facebook or Instagram. Having too many GPS-based location services turned on can also cause the phone to lose battery life fast. Siri, the intelligent voice assistant baked into the iPhone 4S, does not appear to be a serious drain on the battery.
Speaking as an iPhone 4S user, I have noticed no battery life problems in the past two weeks. Then again, I have kept my Notifications to a minimum — not for the sake of my phone, but the sake of my sanity. The Facebook app’s notifications, especially, can waste a lot of time, whether or not it wastes power too.
The iPhone 4S looks and feels exactly like the iPhone 4.