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iPhone 4S battery concerns and tips for better performance

Since the iPhone 4S was released, several customers have reported sub-optimal battery performance. Not only in standby time (Apple's iPhone specs comparison chart notes that the 4S offers 200 hours of standby time, while previous models offered 300), but in daily use as well. The UK's Guardian newspaper reports that some users have been directly contacted by Apple engineers (!) who are trying to suss out the issue.

Today, Erick Schonfeld reports his experience at Tech Crunch. Despite moderate use during an 8-hour work day -- about two-and-a-half hours of Internet and email and roughly 30 minutes of calls -- his iPhone's battery had died. If the iPhone saw hands-on activity for about three hours, according to Erick's anecdotal observation, it spent about 5 hours sitting idle.

As Erick notes, the phone was "...constantly bleeping with notifications and emails. And that may very well be the problem." Often a "resting" iPhone is in fact doing something, and it's possible that very frequent notification alerts can contribute to battery drain. Per the Guardian story, problematic contacts may also be to blame (see Chris Breen story below).

While we wait and see if anything official will come from Apple on this apparently widespread problem, here are a few general tips you can use for preserving battery life on an iOS device. You won't suddenly run 12-hour days after trying these things out, but every bit helps, right?

  1. Lower screen brightness. A blazing screen equals a blazing battery. Move that slider a bit to the left.
  2. Reduce alerts you don't need. Yes, push notifications are wonderful as are their corresponding beeps. Just look at how many you've got enabled and whittle it down to the essential.
  3. Enable quick screen locking. You can typically let the display go to sleep when you aren't actively using your iPhone.
  4. Enable Airplane mode when offline. It kills Wi-Fi and data dead. Plus it's polite to whomever you happen to be talking with.
  5. Reduce email checking. Do you really need to see a new message every five minutes?
  6. Make sure you're not synchronizing massive mail folders you don't actually need on the go, like Sent, Drafts or Junk.
  7. Try de-synchronizing your Exchange, iCloud or Google contacts and seeing if that improves matters -- you may have a corrupt contact record in there.

Admittedly these tips are common sense stuff and probably won't address more specific issues others are reporting. For example, the folks at iDownloadBlog suggest that the Time Zone setting could be a problem and describe a way to test your own device (note that they tested the iPhone 4 and 3GS, not just the 4S), while Christopher Breen discovered that an errant contact was causing a battery-draining crash loop while trying to sync to iCloud.

If you've found any helpful tricks, please share in the comments.



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Bugs/Recalls iPhone

Since the iPhone 4S was released, several customers have reported sub-optimal battery performance. Not only in standby time (Apple's...