Posts about poor battery life by Apple iPhone owners in Apple's support forum have risen from 1,327 on Friday afternoon to 2,420 on Monday morning, with no word from Apple about the cause of the issue or when it might be resolved.
For Google searches with the keyword "battery" in the last 90 days, "iPhone battery" tops the list of rising searches. And for "iPhone battery," the search "battery life" is the second fastest rising search.
Apple is not the only mobile handset maker to wrestle with unsatisfactory battery performance. Android users have been grousing about poor battery life for years. But a comparison of the terms "iPhone battery" and "Android battery" in Google Insights for Search suggests a spike in iPhone-related battery queries, as does a comparison of the same terms in Google Trends.
Battery life is a new issue for Apple. The company set up a battery page in 2007 when the iPhone first came out to help people manage battery usage. Apple was also sued several times over its iPhone batteries because they could not be easily replaced by consumers. Poor battery performance over time was cited as a reason that iPhone batteries would need to be replaced. Apple says that a properly maintained iPhone battery "is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity at 400 full charge and discharge cycles." One of the lawsuits alleged that the number of charges an iPhone could accept before being degraded to the point of replacement was more like 300.
[ Read more about iPhone 4S Battery Life Powers Complaints. ]
Battery problems have become particularly noticeable in recent years because battery technology has not advanced as perceptibly as other consumer electronics technologies and because promised breakthrough technologies like fuel cells for portable devices have yet to arrive in the market.
Short battery life is affecting users of the new iPhone 4S as well as older models that have been upgraded to iOS 5, suggesting that the issue is a software problem.
Though Apple has not responded to a request for comment, there's no shortage of suggestions among iPhone users for improving battery performance. Here are a few worth trying:
Disable iOS 5-Style Calendar Notifications
One person posting in Apple's support forum claims that disabling the iOS 5 Notification Center, via the Calendar app settings menu (Settings > Notifications > Calendar > Notification Center-Off), resolves the battery problem. This supposedly fixes a bug that causes excessive notification polling. You should still be able to receive older style Alerts.
Disable "Setting Time Zone"
Other users report resolving their battery problems by disabling their iPhone's ability to automatically reset the time zone upon entering a new time zone. This is part of the iPhone's Location Services menu (Settings > Location Services > Setting Time Zone). Some users speculate that a bug in iOS location tracking causes the software to check the phone's location too frequently.
Disable Location Services For Reminders
Apple's new Reminders app can issue reminders based on proximity to places. While it can be tremendously helpful to be reminded to pick up some coffee when passing the local coffee shop, it's also a burden on the battery to keep checking whether you're near the coffee shop. If you haven't used Reminders yet, it won't yet be registered in Location Services. A more extreme step is disabling Location Services entirely.
Disable Mail Push
When iOS 3 came out in mid-2009, there were complaints about battery life. GigaOm writer Clayton Lai at the time recommended disabling push notifications for Apple's Mail app. A few of those dealing with iOS 5 battery life issues have also suggested turning off Mail push. This can be done through Settings > Mail, Contacts & Calendar > Fetch New Data > Push (off). This makes new email arrive based on your Fetch schedule setting rather than when pushed by the server.
Beyond that, users should at least be aware of other settings and preferences that may affect battery life. To conserve power, Apple advises users to: minimize use of location services; turn off push notifications; fetch new data less frequently, if the fetch frequency is not already set to "manually"; auto-check fewer email accounts; turn off WiFi and Bluetooth; use Airplane Mode in areas with little or no cellular coverage; enable Auto-Brightness, via Settings > Brightness and make sure brightness isn't maxed unnecessarily; and turn off audio equalization under Settings > iPod > EQ.