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iOS 5.0.1: The Battery Fix That Wasn't

Apple's iOS 5.0.1 update aimed to remedy complaints of poor iPhone battery life. For many, the fix made things worse.
Owners of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 have been complaining about battery life with iOS 5 installed since the operating system became available. Some owners report fully charged iPhones that are running on empty in as little as five or six hours.

Earlier this month, Apple said it had identified a bug that was causing the poor battery life and vowed to fix it with a software update. That update, iOS 5.0.1, was made available to the iPhone 3GS/4/4S, iPad/iPad 2, and iPod Touch Fourth Generation on Thursday.

The official changelog for the update said that it fixes battery life, fixes a Documents bug with iCloud, and patches a security hole.

According to the very vocal users on Apple's support forums who installed iOS 5.0.1, the update did not have the desired effect. Scores of iPhone owners complained that their phones saw no improvement in battery life after installing the update. Here's a sampling from the iPhone support forum:

"It's just ridiculous. Was at 100% and kept phone on charger while doing update OTA. Update finished and 1 hour later I was down to 82%. NOT happy."

"Same here as with others, my 4S has worse battery life now with 5.0.1 than the original 5. Drains about 1% per 15 minutes without any use."

"Just want to add my name to this growing list of disappointed users that was excited about this update. ... Apple failed to fix the battery issue with 5.0.1. Hope to see another update that actually works soon."

"Same for me ... 5.0.1 is worst!!! My battery life is ridiculously short. Without using the iPhone I'm loosing 10% per hour ... if i use it ... 1% to 2% per minute. Apple fix this soon as possible ... this is an emergency! Software bugs are always part of electronic products ... but this is disappointing and UNACCEPTABLE!!! Especially from Apple."

Looking through the first five pages of comments in the thread, I was unable to find a single positive comment about the 5.0.1 update's effect on battery life. Did it work for any of you?

InformationWeek's own Fritz Nelson said to me via email this morning, "I can tell you the fix is not working for me. [At] 7AM [I had a] full charge and 3 hours later I am at 67%. 30 min phone call, about 100 emails and that is it!"

Clearly, Apple has more work to do here.

It is worth pointing out that iOS 5.0.1 was the first system update made available for download over the air rather than through iTunes. Until Thursday, each and every previous system update required users to connect their iPhone to a PC and download/install the update with Apple's iTunes program. One of the benefits of iOS 5 is the ability to download portions of system updates rather than the entire operating system. The end result allows for iPhones to download system updates over the air.

If iOS 5.0.1 was successful at anything, it was proving that the over-the-air update method works well.