What Might Shorten iPhone 4S Battery Life?

Could the new Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iCloud service be one of the causes of the reported battery life problems with the iPhone 4S?

Our sister publication Information Week has noted that iPhone 4S users are complaining about the low battery life of the new device.

"As the owner of an iPhone 4S myself, I can attest to the fact that the phone's battery drains faster than it did when I was using the iPhone 4," writes Thomas Claburn on the issue.

Apple said when launching the 4S that it would have more 3G talk time than its predecessor. The company hasn't officially addressed battery life complaints from users. (See Apple's Latest Is a Faster 3G 'Worldphone'.)

Some of the key new features for the iPhone 4S include the iCloud service, the Siri voice assistant and 14.4Mbit/s HSPA+ support in the AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) version of the phone.

iCloud enables large data updates over Wi-Fi by automatically synchronizing content between separate Apple devices, including music, pictures and contacts. Heavy data and Wi-Fi usage can help to increase battery drainage so it might be one of the reasons for the complaints -- although it would also affect iPhone 4 users over time, since they can also use the cloud service with the iOS 5 operating system update.

Faster HSPA+ 3G could also be a factor.

Yankee Group Research Inc. says that it might still be a little while until Apple addresses the issue as delivering a fix could take time.

"Apple likes to deal with facts when it is investigating claims of problems with its products," notes Carl Howe, research director at Yankee Group. "When confronted with usability issues of this type, Apple has to chase down the customers experiencing it, find a reproducible cause (if any), and then craft a fix." (See Apple's Answer to 'Antennagate'.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:49:56 PM
re: What Might Shorten iPhone 4S Battery Life?

iPhone has IPv6 support built-in but obviously most carriers aren't supporting it -- beyond trials -- in networks yet.

elgato990 12/5/2012 | 4:49:56 PM
re: What Might Shorten iPhone 4S Battery Life?

Well, if iCloud sync along with Facebook and gmail Sync are the issue... my guess is that the phone has to constantly send "keepalive" messages through the carriers NAT, otherwise the IPv4 translation goes stale and sync does not work.  The Fix?  IPv6 does not need NAT.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:49:56 PM
re: What Might Shorten iPhone 4S Battery Life?

Siri could average at 20MB a month data usage, according to Ars Technica. Of course, it does require a constant Internet connection to work.

elgato990 12/5/2012 | 4:49:55 PM
re: What Might Shorten iPhone 4S Battery Life?

Nope.  iPhone may support WiFi IPv6, but not mobile 3G IPv6.  The same has been true for android .... up until this phone, which will be the first android to support mobile network IPv6 http://mytouch.t-mobile.com/simple-phones  on 2G/3G.  As of right now, the only phones that support 2G/3G IPv6 is Nokia.  One other expeption is the LTE phones on Verizon, they too support IPv6, but only when LTE attached.

burn0050 12/5/2012 | 4:49:54 PM
re: What Might Shorten iPhone 4S Battery Life?

When I first got my 4s, I noticed a quick battery drain the first 2 days. I thought perhaps I might have a defective battery, but then I ran it all the way down to less than 5%, and then did a full recharge (like 12+ hours). Since then, my phone has acted more or less like my old 4.

Of course, I also fiddled with the settings, with things like iCloud and what to back up, whether to only use wifi, etc. I have it set to backup documents and data, and use cellular. Of course, I don't know that I use a lot of document storage, because I don't do a lot of that on my phone. I also do not backup email, because most of it is already on the cloud (yahoo, gmail).

I still don't feel like it has any improved battery time, but then, talking is one of the least things I do on my iPhone...

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 4:49:52 PM
re: What Might Shorten iPhone 4S Battery Life?

1) The carriers are not offering IPv6 service.

2) Is Apple even setup for IPv6 yet on the cloud?

3) While IPv6 doesn't support NAT, the keep alives you are talkign about are still required for firewalls.  Sure you can extend the timers, but you can do the same with NAT translation timers as well.


Your "fix" is as good as mine; turn the data off and you get better battery life.

Bailu 12/5/2012 | 4:49:50 PM
re: What Might Shorten iPhone 4S Battery Life?

Maybe the main reason is dual core CPU, if so ...

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