iPhone 4S: Battery life much worse than iPhone 4

Posted on by Mike Evans

After nearly four days with my new iPhone 4S I’m concerned at the apparently excessive battery drain. I can only blame Location Services. Normally, even with my one-year-old iPhone 4, I could expect to get through the day on one charge. Now, at 3.40 in the afternoon I am in the red zone with only 20 percent battery storage left.¹ This is a worry and, unless I alter my behaviour, it can only get worse as the phone gets older. 

Apple have consistently refused to add battery-draining enhancements, such as Flash Player, with the best interests of the user at heart (I believe). But Siri encourages location searches (that is, if Siri recognised anywhere in the UK) and more and more people will be tempted to use more power.

I read on the OmniFocus blog, that the new location services on iOS 5 does not drain the battery as rapidly as in the past.

The folks that are concerned by this are usually worried that their battery will be drained more quickly, and in previous versions of iOS, that would have been the case. In iOS 5, though, you shouldn’t have to worry as much. Behind the scenes, iOS 5 is handling things. We can’t know the exact details of how it works, but Apple’s stated goal was to be reasonably accurate while minimizing battery drain. The location monitoring indicator is mainly to help you manage your privacy; avoiding battery drain was a useful side-effect. But in iOS 5, the device is better able to conserve the battery.

Active apps such as TomTom have always been battery guzzlers and are really only usable when the phone is connected to a power supply.

Given that Siri doesn’t yet know where I am, I shall try turning off global location services. The snag is that “Turning off Location Services will no longer enable me to locate my iPhone with ‘Find My Phone’”—as I am reminded when I toggle the switch in Settings. I might try selective vasectomies of various services, but I’m not sure how much battery drain is worsened even by Find My Phone alone.

If any readers have tips on conserving battery power without a global retreat from Location Services, I am all ears. 


¹ As I finish writing this item at 15.59 I see I’ve lost a further 25 percent of battery capacity. I’m now down to a miserable 14 percent and need to find a power socket soon. With my old iPhone 4 I seldom saw the red zone, even after a day’s use. 


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