The iPhone 4S – could battery problems lead to an update?

Could the on-going issue of battery problems force a system up date from Apple over the iPhone 4S? The smartphone, which launched in October, has prompted complaints from users in online forums. They state the device seems to be losing up to 20% of its battery life in an hour, even with light use. Others have commented that overnight, the battery is draining up to 15%.

When the iPhone 4S launched particular mention was made of improvement to battery life. An upgrade to a dual-core processor, the new A5 chip, would ensure the phone was faster and more responsive, but Apple was clear that this would not reflect in a shorter battery life.

Yet complaints have lingered since its launch. Apple even produced a checklist a fortnight after the iPhone 4S launched suggesting tips and ideas for preserving the battery, which included reducing running applications, turning off the calendar, reducing the brightness on the device and, perhaps most importantly, switching off location based services when they are not needed. These applications that run continuously in the background may not impede the iPhone 4S’ ability to multitask and run several programmes at once, but they do mean the super-fast processor is working continuously and draining battery life while the device may appear to be inert. Some users report having been issued with a new device once they have complained about battery life. In fact some media outlets say users have been contacted by Apple engineers once they have registered a complaint and have been asked questions about usage and practice with their iPhone 4S. Apple has made no official comment on the issue, but coming as it does after the launch problems with the iPhone 4 antennae, it clouds the launch of what has become the fastest selling smartphone of all time.

The device’s battery is a built in lithium-ion battery. Rechargeable the specifications on the Apple website suggest up to 8 hours of talk time on 3G, 14 hours on 2G. On standby the battery is to last 200 hours. If the device is used more frequently then battery life is reduced. For example browsing the Internet or watching films on the iPhone 4S means you get around 6 hours on 3G and 9 hours if you use Wi-Fi. This is an improvement on the battery life of the iPhone 4 but that does get 300 hours standby time.

The iPhone 4S is not the first iPhone to have battery issues. The iPhone 3GS suffered from many forum complaints over battery life. The issue over the antennae on the iPhone 4 in 2010 led to Apple releasing a plastic bumper to fit on the device. Holding the phone in a certain way reduced the signal dramatically.

Yet the controversy did not impact on the sale of iPhone 4 mobile phone deals. Before the iPhone 4S, it was the most popular smartphone in Apple’s arsenal. The record set by the iPhone 4S, four million handsets sold in its launch weekend, ensures that despite the complaint and criticism from some corners of the market, the wide ranging popularity and endorsement of the latest Apple smartphone is not going to be affected.

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