Just how good is the iPhone 5's battery?
Battery life woes on the iPhone 5 may not be the fault of the device itself. Apple's iOS6 may actually be the battery drain culprit.
Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Some new iPhone 5 owners must feel like they are in the movie "Gaslight," in which a man tries to drive his wife crazy by making her think that much of what she sees and remembers isn't true.
Early reviews of the newest iPhone praised its exceptional battery life, using phrases like "great battery life" (Wall Street Journal) and "Better battery life? Actually, yes." (Engadget).
But a Google search for "iPhone 5 battery life" turns up scads of complaints by owners, including on Apple's own user forums, featuring such words as "battery drains unusually fast," "the battery barely lasts" and "definitely seeing major drainage."
According to Apple, the battery in the iPhone 5 should provide up to 8 hours of Web-surfing and other Internet use, even on the notoriously power-hungry LTE wireless service that is a key selling point of the new device. Apple also claims an amazing 8 hours of talk time — though that's only if you shift down to 3G wireless service. [IPhone 5 Fans Want More Features, Still Line Up]
Some users are claiming far, far less. One reported losing 10 percent of the charge every 15 minutes doing nothing but texting and without Wi-Fi turned on. Another wrote that the battery charge dropped 40 percent overnight, with no apps running and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless turned off.
Yet for every complaint about battery life, there are about as many users praising the performance, saying they are getting about the same or better endurance with the iPhone 5 than with previous models, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
Our sister site, LAPTOP, reviewed the iPhone 5 and did see an endurance boost. The iPhone 4S running iOS 6 lasted 5 hours and 54 minutes when surfing the Web continuously over 3G on 40 percent brightness. The iPhone 5 lasted 7:13 on the same test, so over an hour longer. [The iPhone 5 — How Did We Get Here?]
If there is a problem, it may lie not in the iPhone 5 but in the latest operating system, iOS 6. Some people are having similar problems with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S after upgrading to iOS 6. One person said the battery had dropped 40 percent after an hour and a half of the phone "doing nothing." Another noted losing 56 percent in 2 hours and 20 minutes of "simply reading" on the device. Both said that these results were far worse than what they had gotten from the same smartphone before the software upgrade. For some people, talk time has also suffered.
Apple has had battery-draining issues in the past with new operating systems and has fixed them with software patches. The iOS 6 introduces many new features — including a much-maligned map application — that may consume power differently or use wireless services in different ways. iPhone owners, or Apple itself, may have to make adjustments to how this software runs in order to reduce the drain on the battery.
At the moment, it's too early to tell if the fast battery drain is a widespread problem or a fluke, and whether — if there is a problem — it will be easy to fix.
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