Taking on the iPhone 4S battery issues

My saga of trying to extend the battery life of the iPhone 4S to a usable point continues. I called Apple Support, who confirmed that the iOS 5.0.1 release didn’t have any impact on a proportion of users iPhones, and that Apple continues to work on the issue in its 5.1 release (rumour has it that the latest beta build of iOS resolves this, however I’ll believe it when I see it). Phone support did say I could go into a Genius bar, who would check out a number of things including the possibility of the phone not charging from the mains adaptor, and so they made me an appointment.

Of course, the Genius bar technical support folk (their job titles are ‘Genius’) did no such thing – they looked at the phone, killed some apps, confirmed that I’d tried this, and then noticed that the version of iOS I was running – whilst being the ‘latest’ in release numbers term, was one build old. For the un-initiated, a ‘build’ is a version of the software’s internal name – it ticks over at a slightly different rate to the external release number to try to convince the general public that the company they’re buying from aren’t ditsy idiots who did the programming equivalent of leaving their watch in someone post-surgery (perhaps an actual coder could give a better, more sympathetic explanation of this :-)).


They refused to tell me much about the builds (apparently they’re not supposed to) – but of course it’s all on Wikipedia. I moved from build 9A405 to 9A406 and – mercifully – iCloud restored the phone to a pretty much identical state as it had been before. Nothing in the release notes for 9A406 indicates it will have any impact on battery life, and, sure enough… A day later, and its having marginal impact – my phone, switched on at 5.50 am, is dropping its charge at the expected rate of 10% per hour under normal-light usage (currently down to 84% 1h 20 minutes later). Heavy usage will half that.

So, my next option: replacing the phone under warranty, for one that will be ‘new-ish’ – but may include remanufactured components. Given what the ‘new’ components are like, I’m actually hoping that the remanufactued ones will be an improvement.

Of course, my ‘last resort’ option is to give up on iOS in its entirety, as I can’t stick with a phone with this kind of battery life – it’ll be useless for work where I may need to go more than 6 hours without a mains socket. More on this thought process to follow soon, thanks to some insights from my friends and my fellow Coolsmartphone.com contributors…

I’m still hoping that someone out there will have the magic switch or setting that will fix this, or that iOS 5.1 will be released in the next few weeks… Anyone?

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