The iPhone 4S may have its first significant early life issue, according to many users, and even possibly Apple itself. Many users are reporting seeing very poor battery life with iPhone 4S devices, and now Apple seems to be investigating the problem.


The iPhone 4S may have its first significant early life issue, according to many users, and even possibly Apple itself. Many users are reporting seeing very poor battery life with iPhone 4S devices, and on Friday the Guardian received word that Apple was contacting affected users directly to get to the bottom of things.

Problems with the 4S battery go beyond just the advertised changes, which acknowledge that the iPhone 4S won’t get as much standby time from a full charge than either the iPhone 4 or the iPhone 3GS. 3G talk time and other use cases are supposed to last longer with the 4S’s new battery, however, which a teardown revealed is higher capacity than the one in the iPhone 4.

Users who are having problems aren’t seeing just a small drop in standby time, however. Some users are reporting between 10 and 20 percent battery burn per hour while the phone is in standby mode. That’s well off the usual, which is closer to around 1 percent an hour, or even less. In fact, we’re treading well into Android territory here, where battery life is a known failing of most devices.

Solutions people are suggesting vary from performing a full backup and restore, to switching off Siri, to not using wireless sync. But in many cases, these solutions don’t seem to be helping. Some argue that it’s an issue with 3G data, as users who depend more on Wi-Fi don’t seem to be as affected in some cases.

The Guardian reports that some iPhone 4S users who’ve posted about the problem on Apple’s discussion boards are receiving calls from Apple engineers looking into the problem. It’s a good sign that Apple is investigating, but according to one person who was contacted, an engineer admitted “they aren’t close to finding a fix.”

My own iPhone 4S seems to have comparable, if not better battery life when compared to my iPhone 4. I’ve managed to get as much as two full days of standby time along with five or six hours of usage. I tend not to be away from Wi-Fi for very long, however, and I have noticed that the phone runs hot and battery seems to drain more quickly when I’m actually browsing in Safari using a 3G connection.

What about you? If you’ve upgraded to the iPhone 4S, are you having problems with battery life? Maybe iOS 5 is the culprit, and you’re seeing problems even on an iPhone 4 or 3GS? Let us know in the comments.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. I end up having to charge it at the end of each day, but any battery life at all seems like an improvement over my prior 3 year old iPhone 3G, so it’s tough to compare.

  2. I just got my 4S today, so I can’t speak to that. But, once I upgraded to iOS5 on my 3GS, I noticed my battery dying faster than usual.

    1. I can’t even get 7 hours. I don’t listen to music no games. Just talk text and emails went to see an apple genious today who told me to turn off location services which is inenofnthe perks of the phone and too turn off wifi. Phone died 2 hours later. For a whopping total of 6 hours battery life. No web surfing about an hours talk time just texting and emails ! Arggg

  3. Mike O’Connor Friday, October 28, 2011

    As a developer with Xcode, I can look at the phone ‘console’ and see in the logs. In my case my battery problem had to do with the calendar. It had trouble syncing part of it, and continuously kept retrying, using up the battery in a few hours. Turning off calendar sync cured it.

    People’s mileage may vary, but my point is this battery thing is a software problem, and I’m sure it will be solved in (hopefully the next, quick) update.

  4. i have owned every iphone ever sold by apple. 2g, 3g, 3gs, 4, and now the 4s. i’ve been with at&t, softbank japan, and now verizon. my 64gb white 4s had TERRIBLE battery life. losing at least 10% battery life in hour in standby mode. full charge leaving car and heading into office at 9AM, by 12:30 I was often less than 50% battery life, with very little usage. I did a warranty exchange at an apple store and the replacement 4s I received is worlds different. battery life is back to normal, like it was with my 4 and all other phones. i believe i had a lemon because I tried doing multiple types of restores, and setting it up as a new phone without a restore and it did nothing to fix the issue.

  5. Similar to Mike’s comment, I upgraded on my 3gs and had alarming battery loss (100% to zero in four hours) – I noticed that in the notifications window, the calendar was updating continuously. Turning this off cured things straight away.

  6. I can burn through a full charge in 4-5 hours while sitting at my desk connected to wifi…. not using it at all. no apps currently running.

  7. Going back to android

  8. I have the 3GS and never had battery issues until I upgraded to iOS 5. I am getting the same 10-20% battery drain per hour mentioned. The problem with mine seems to be with a Microsoft Exchange Calendar that I have added. When looking at the notification center, the Calender items will “twitch” as if it is constantly being refreshed/rewritten.

    I deleted the calender and re-added it and it seemed to correct it for a while. Then all of a sudden it started happening again. This time I turned the calender off and back on instead of deleting and it seems to have fixed it again…for now at least.

  9. I think it’s IOS5, not as much the phone. I have a ‘4’, and it’s doing the same thing. I turned off the setting time zone button, in system services, and that seems to have really helped mine. not hot now, or draining nearly as fast. Got the tip from Gizmodo… http://goo.gl/K0bwd

    1. I got the iphone 4S 32 GB and replaced the first as it was getting hot, now the second one also runs warm when talking, looks like some issue with their battery.

  10. I’ve burned 1% battery life reading this article on a 3G connection. Wait.. 2%

Comments have been disabled for this post