Help me with my iPhone 4 Battery Life!
January 15, 2013 5:15 AM   Subscribe

I have an iPhone 4 and since the iOS 6 update, my battery life is horrible! Help!

Ok, I have an iPhone 4 (White, 8GB, iOS 6.0.1). Since the iOS update back in the Fall of 2012 I have been having serious issues with my battery life. In the past, the battery usage with my iPhone 4 was perfect. With the amount that I use it, I could easily get a couple of days with one charge. However, since the update, I can’t make it through the day on a charge. I never make phone calls on the phone, I am not a games user, so I basically use it for listening to podcasts on the way to work and texting during the day. For most of the day, it sits in my pocket. Also, whatever happens to my iPhone in the night, it kills the battery, as I see significant battery usage overnight.

I have Googled this and it’s evident that I am not the only one with this issue, but there doesn’t seem to be any solution that provides a decent fix.

I haven’t downloaded anything since the update (apps, etc), so I know it was the actual iOS update that is causing this issue with my phone.

This is becoming a huge pain in the butt. Recently, we had a power outage for 36 hours and my phone was just sitting there doing nothing (wifi was down, etc) and I can’t believe how fast I lost battery life power and my phone died. Before, it was an inconvenience, but this really got me concerned as I needed to use the phone for ac couple of emergency calls during this time and had to borrow my neighbours. Now, I need to get this rectified.

Any suggestions? Advice?

Thanks so much!
posted by dbirchum to Technology (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
One thing I've noticed with mine is when there's no WiFi at all, it drains VERY fast 'cause it keeps pinging for a wifi connection that isn't there (used to happen in the mountains all the time, when I'd be out of range of any WiFi and out of range of the cellular network as well). When you know you'll have no wifi, turn that off or go into Airport mode.

Also, make sure nothing's using Location Services that you don't want or need to be using LS; that can also drain.

All that said, both my 4S's (work and personal) have atrocious battery life and I keep a charger at work and home so I can plug them in for a little snack whenever they get low. Sucks but I figure it's the downside to all the stuff I CAN do with my iThing.
posted by tigerjade at 5:25 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

My iPhone 4s battery life got significantly worse around when the OS6 came out.

Except I didn't update to OS6 and still haven't. In my case I think it is just the physical phone getting older, although it might be that some newer apps guzzle more battery.
posted by nat at 5:30 AM on January 15, 2013

Have you turned off bluetooth? When I upgraded to iOS 6 I found that bluetooth had been turned back on, having been off previously. Hammers your battery life
posted by fatfrank at 5:37 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

My thoughts were what tigerjade said. Is the little arrow in the top right on? That's Location Services. Figure out which programs are using it and turn them off.

In addition to trying to connect to wifi, it might be that wherever you put your phone overnight is in a bad spot for 3G/telephone coverage. iPhones haaate not having a signal, and they will try over and over and over again to find one, which drains it fast.

Try the Do Not Disturb function -- it keeps the phone from flashing a notification when you get emails overnight. That can drain it pretty well too.

And yeah, get a second power cord and keep it at work. Makes things easier.
posted by Etrigan at 6:40 AM on January 15, 2013

If you have a car, a car charger is essential. When I lost power for 11 days recently, the only place to charge was my car.

When you are out of range of either cell service or wifi, turn off those features or it will spend a lot of battery energy searching for service. My son repeatedly forgets to turn his data service off when he is at school where reception is not so good. Then when I need to reach him for pickup, he has the claim his phone is dead.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:54 AM on January 15, 2013

I had the same problem and was able to fix it by just turning off everything I could in settings and then turning essential things back on one at a time. Is your mail set to push or fetch? Turn off all location services and notifications at first.
posted by mattbucher at 7:06 AM on January 15, 2013

Also, get one of those external additional batteries, like this or many others. At least a back-up for power outages or other frustrations...
posted by acm at 7:24 AM on January 15, 2013

Hi all -

Thanks for the suggestions!

Firstly, a couple of comments:

- My Bluetooth is off (I have never used this).
- Location Services - Ok, I might need a little help with this one. I have seen the little arrow in the Right hand side of my screen come up when I have used the maps or weather app (both very rare occurrences). How do I ensure that Location Services is off for things that I might not need?
- Do Not Disturb Function - sounds interesting (esp in the night when I could care less about email). What does this do? However, will I still be able to get phone calls and texts during the night?
- Airplane Mode - sounds like I sound be using this more often.
- I do use Push Notifications for things such as email, ESPN and a couple of other apps, but I had always used them for that stuff (before the iOS update) and it worked fine...

Keep the suggestions coming...

And I do have a charger in both my office and home (and also a car charger), but my car was buried under 6 feet of snow drifts last week!
posted by dbirchum at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2013

iPhones haaate not having a signal, and they will try over and over and over again to find one, which drains it fast.

All cell phones do -- and the power they'll use to transmit to the tower is variable, it tries to use the least power possible. If you're in an area of marginal reception, the phone needs to use more power to transmit. And it always transmits a little bit, just to tell the tower that "Hi, I'm in your cell" so that calls can be routed to you.

But I'll be honest, burning though battery in a day if you are truly not doing anything sounds wrong. Either there is something actively attempting to send data, there's an app spinning the CPU, or the battery has gone weak.

So, let's get a little rigor. Pick the same spot in your house. Charge the phone to 100%, disconnect, set a timer (or the Clock timer, but use one or the other!) for two hours. Check battery percentage when it goes off. That's your baseline. Remember to tell the phone to show you percentage in the task bar.

Then go into iTunes and tell it not to sync any apps except the ones you know you use all the time -- seriously, if you don't use it daily, for this, don't put it on the phone. Even better, start with zero apps. Then, Restore iPhone, which will cause a wipe and reset, then resync with only those apps you use daily.

Recharge the phone to 100%, then run that two hour test again. Remember, same place in your house, and if you used the iPhone's clock timer, use it again.

Has battery life improved? If yes, start adding back apps. I'd do them in batches of, oh, five, based on how commonly I use them. After every batch, and this is important, *open* each of the apps once to make sure they actually do what they do. If they need configuration, configure them -- they need to be in running shape. And, of course, recharge the phone.

Run the test again. If you see a sudden drop, at least one of those five apps is hammering your battery. Initially, I'd drop all five and go onto the next batch, just to get through them all, but you can remove them and add them back one at a time, or remove them one at a time, and find out which apps are battery haters.

At the end of this, you have a little list of bad apps. Now, ask yourself.

1) Do I ever use this? If the answer is no, delete.
2) If you do use it, can the app be made to behave. Check it's settings and retest. It may be that turning off something will reduce the power draw. If not...
3) Can you accept the battery draw for this app. If you, you have to eat it, but I'd send a bug report about it. If you can't, you need to find a new app.

The two hour test can also be used for settings. Change a setting, charge phone, unplug, check in two hours.

It takes a while, but it's really the only way to find out what settings and apps are eating your battery, and that will let you make a decision -- is what I get out of that app or setting worth the power draw? It might be yes, in which case, you start looking at other charging sources, battery packs, etc.

But in my experience, Apps are the #1 cause of battery life reduction. One day, I tried the official Disney World app at, well, Disney world. For the three days I was there without it, I'd typically end the day with at least 40% power left, often close to 60%. On the one day I tried the DW app, I installed it at 11AM and the phone shut down at 9PM for lack of power.
posted by eriko at 7:36 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Location Services - Ok, I might need a little help with this one. I have seen the little arrow in the Right hand side of my screen come up when I have used the maps or weather app (both very rare occurrences). How do I ensure that Location Services is off for things that I might not need?

If the arrow isn't on, then it's not looking. Speaking of the Maps app, the live turn-by-turn directions are a huge power drain -- my 30- to 45-minute commute can take me down 20 percent if I forget to turn that off after I check directions in the morning.

Do Not Disturb Function - sounds interesting (esp in the night when I could care less about email). What does this do? However, will I still be able to get phone calls and texts during the night?

It keeps notifications from popping up when you don't want them to for whatever reason. For that matter, check all your notifications. My phone checks for mail every five minutes or so, and on busy days, those beeps and flashes can suck up a lot of juice.

Go to Settings, then Notifications, then Do Not Disturb. You can set when you want it on and who can call you. So far, calls are the only things that won't be silenced. Then go back out of Notifications to the first Settings menu to turn it on, and it'll go into DND mode at the time you set.
posted by Etrigan at 7:52 AM on January 15, 2013

I had issues with my iPhone 5 not having any luck with finding certain wifi hotspots right when I got it, and it was draining the battery incredibly fast. Then iOs 6.0.1 came out, and it fixed it.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 8:02 AM on January 15, 2013

Do you shut down all your open apps regularly? Having lots of apps open (or even just 1 or 2 battery hog apps) can drain your battery pretty quickly.

Go to wi-fi settings and turn OFF "ask to join networks".

Turn bluetooth off.

Turn off location services for apps that don't need it.

Turn your screen brightness down.

Other than that, if you're not using it a lot and it's draining to zero in under a day, take it to the Apple store.

I have an iPhone 4 that has perfectly good battery time on OS6 despite having bluetooth on and location services too!
posted by shazzam! at 3:56 PM on January 15, 2013

This has happened on a few iPhones that I have had. My theory is that during the upgrade, some app doesn't go into the "background" correctly and stays on. A wipe/restore doesn't help because it restores the app in its broken state.

To fix, I open the "commonly used apps" list (double tap home button), and then force-close every single app that appears, until the list is completely empty. This can take some time of pressing the little X marks.

Here is the Apple page on it: iOS: Force an app to close

Hope this helps.
posted by meowzilla at 7:39 PM on January 16, 2013

Greetings all...
Just an update, I read each and every one of the posts above and did as much as I could with my settings and I am happy to report that my battery power has increased significantly!! Seriously, thanks to everyone who replied and I literally tried everything (I haven't tried all of eriko's steps yet, but I am slowly working through them.

Thanks again!!!
posted by dbirchum at 11:42 AM on January 21, 2013

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