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iPhone users harangue Apple over battery life

Dubbed 'iDrain,' problem likely a software glitch, says expert

July 6, 2009 05:59 AM ET

Computerworld - Reports that Apple's iPhones are draining their batteries so fast that some users can't make it through a workday without recharging likely point to a problem in the new iPhone OS 3.0 software, an Apple hardware repair expert said Sunday.

"Users are reporting battery issues that it runs out very quickly," said Aaron Vronko, the CEO of Michigan-based Rapid Repair, a firm that fixes iPods and iPhones and sells parts for do-it-yourselfers. "It sounds like a problem with iPhone 3.0 [and having] some of its features turned on."

Vronko, who posted one of the first teardowns of the new iPhone 3GS on launch day, June 19, suspects that it's not the battery itself, which is nearly identical to the one found in the older iPhone 3G.

"I don't think it's a hardware issue," he said, "but some interaction within the software that's not quite working as intended. Something is really draining the battery." Another teardown, done by iFixit, noted that the iPhone 3GS's battery is just 6% more powerful than the battery in its predecessor.

Users started complaining about poor battery performance almost as soon as Apple offered iPhone 3.0, the software available for download June 17 for first-generation iPhones and second-generation iPhone 3Gs. The new iPhone 3GS relies on the same software.

"After updating to [iPhone] 3.0 the battery life is very short. It consumes 5%-10% an hour," claimed an original iPhone user identified as "ukfasthands" in a message posted on Apple's support forum June 17.

"I too have experienced severe battery depletion issues since updating to 3.0," echoed Donald Cowan in another message posted on Apple's support forum. "Normally get 5 days or so with my 1st Gen iPhone in standby, but now lucky to get through the day. From a communication point of view my iPhone is now a liability."

iPhone 3G owners who had updated to iPhone 3.0 also said their phones were draining extraordinarily fast. "There's a drastic reduction in battery power to my iPhone 3G since I installed the 3.0 software," said Paul Irvine on the same support thread as Cowan. "Within 2 hours, power drains from a full charge to the alert for 20% power remaining, then the 10% alert followed by it going dead."

Although suggestions by others to delete e-mail accounts, especially Microsoft Exchange accounts, then restore those accounts, fixed the problem for some -- leading users to speculate that the vaunted "push notification" that debuted in iPhone 3.0 was the culprit -- the solution didn't help everyone.

iPhone 3GS users also waded into the battery waters. Several threads on the 3GS support forums boast as many as 100 messages and have been viewed tens of thousands of times.



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