Battery drain
March 5, 2021 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to solve this iPhone battery issue?

My iPhone SE (1st gen) started drawing very quickly yesterday, and when I noticed and checked the battery health says 75% and called for "service". This battery is only a couple months since install and when I run coconutbattery diagnostics it says the battery is actually 99% and fine, which makes sense for the age of the battery.

Is there any way to get the software to deal with this? Or another forum that might have answers?

The phone is updated and running fine otherwise and I didn't make any changes that might have initiated the new drain (I mean like a new update or something).

I'm in a remote area right now so can't bring it into the Genius Bar for a bit, and my concern there is that Apple techs will look at Battery Health and just want me to pay for another battery.
posted by miles1972 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Are you spending extra time outside? Older iPhone batteries seem especially susceptible to cold weather, and drain really quickly with lower temps.
posted by hydra77 at 11:14 AM on March 5, 2021

Did you recently update the system software? IIRC older versions of the software used to "force drain" the SE battery. That was put a stop to, but maybe it's made a comeback?

Also, shouldn't the new battery still be under warranty?
posted by praemunire at 11:16 AM on March 5, 2021

Who installed the battery?

If this wasn't from an Apple certified shop, it's possible that the OS needs to be reset to recognize the battery change, or be "paired" somehow with the OS. This would be with tools that only Apple or their certified repairers would have and be allowed to use. Apple is very heavy-handed with their control over all aspects of hardware.
posted by meowzilla at 12:03 PM on March 5, 2021

Have you started using an official covid exposure alert app by any chance? I’ve used some from different states and have noticed that they sometimes drain my battery alarmingly fast. (I also happen to have a 1st gen SE though I don’t know that it matters in terms of the covid exposure app’s behavior.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:27 PM on March 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

As someone who also owns a first gen iPhone SE, I can second the observation that the current iOS (iOS 14) is a battery hog on this phone for whatever reason. This has been discussed for a while on Apple boards, and with every point update it seems to be mostly-not resolved. Safari, in particular, or at least certain websites in Safari, seems to be particularly poorly optimized -- draining the battery very quickly and really heating up the phone in ways I hadn't noticed before. I'm on my original battery, but the onboard diagnostic says it is at 90% capacity.
posted by AndrewInDC at 1:46 PM on March 5, 2021

Came here to say what needs more cowbell said. I have one of the newest iPhone models, and immediately after enabling the official exposure notification for my region I saw a sharp reduction in battery life.

This can be discovered by looking in Settings > Battery and then scrolling down to see which apps and services have the highest battery usage. If you're not using exposure notification on your phone, you might see some other culprit here.
posted by theory at 2:26 PM on March 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m sorry I don’t have a solution for you, but I can give additional confirmation that this is a widespread issue. I have a first-gen SE, with a battery that I replaced (at an Apple Store) exactly a year ago, and over the past few weeks the battery drain has become extreme—I sometimes go from 100% to 30% in an hour of active use. Like AndrewInDC, I have also found that certain applications cause the phone to get really hot, in a way that I have never experienced before. I have had some success extending battery life by force-quitting those “hot” programs entirely when I am done, which maybe suggests there is some runaway process issue going on?

And FWIW I have not been able to find a reasonable explanation in my battery-usage-by-app statistics, and the phone claims my battery capacity percentage is at 90%. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 3:01 PM on March 5, 2021

Just to give a sense of what I noticed: my phone’s battery is probably at 75% health, in the “I would replace it if I weren’t home most of the time these days anyway” category but it’s totally usable, I’m not usually worried it’ll die on me if I’m running errands or anything. But after enabling one state’s covid exposure feature, it dropped from 80% to 4% in maybe an hour or two when I wasn’t even using it beyond checking the time occasionally. I had been traveling and so had different states’ notifications on my phone (so I’m not sure which it was), and once I settled & removed some states I didn’t have that level of problem anymore.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:21 PM on March 5, 2021

Yeah, my first gen SE also has huge battery issues even after replacement. Sometimes it'll randomly die over night despite being 99% full before I go to bed, and I close all my apps before I go to sleep. This does not correlate with any new update either.

I always carry a mobile battery with me. Anker is pretty good. I would get the battery exchanged again (it was like 60 bucks or so last time) but since I'm moving soon, I'll get a new phone with my next contract.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:40 AM on March 6, 2021

This happened to me a few days ago too, after updating Spotify, but from my research online, this appears to be a widespread issue affecting multiple iPhones. Most people affected seem to be on iOs 14.xx, but I'm still on 13.xx and it's happened to me too. On my phone, the fastest draining is happening while using WiFi or Cellular for anything, but especially Spotify.

Some people have reported successfully fixing this issue by backing up their iPhone to iCloud and doing a factory reset using their Mac or PC -- not resetting on the iPhone itself, that doesn't work -- then reinstalling everything from an iCloud backup.

So if you're on iOs 14 and a Mac, for example, you'd navigate to your iPhone from Finder and choose "reset" from there, then reinstall from iCloud. It does take several hours though, so you might want to do it overnight. One guy said he was able to start using his iPhone about ten minutes into the re-installation though -- it just continued to reinstall in the background.

Good luck!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:21 AM on March 6, 2021

For comparison, I also have a first-gen SE with a replacement battery dating from a couple of months ago, installed by a local independent phone repair shop and therefore almost certainly not an Apple-certified spare part. Battery Health still says it has a maximum capacity of 100%, which is consistent with the way the phone is behaving (battery lasts me all day, phone doesn't shut down suddenly in the cold, etc.).

I'm running iOS 14.4, and while the phone is not coping as well now as it was a couple of iOS updates back (it's slower, laggier, and can't cope with as many apps open at once), and certain apps (Duolingo) make it heat up and drain the battery faster, its internal assessment of the state of the battery seems trustworthy.

I can't tell you what's gone wrong or how to fix it, but something is definitely awry if your phone has decided the battery capacity is down to 75% already.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:28 AM on March 6, 2021

Note: In my above post, please replace the word "reinstall" with "restore".
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:11 AM on March 6, 2021

I have a first-generation iPhone SE. I had experiences a couple of weeks ago where, after I charged overnight, I'd unplug, browse a random webpage and I thought it crashed, but it was very low battery. I've managed to avoid this since. Instead of charging overnight, I'll charge for an hour or two at a time, going to 80 or 90%. I'm wondering if it's a bug in Optimized Battery Charging, which hovers at 80%, then tries to time 100% to when you get up. I think that's new in iOS 14.

While I'm at home, I switch off Bluetooth, which halts the Exposure checks, and that also helps re: plummeting power levels.

My long-time notable battery hogs are the built-in Podcast app and something I used to map my commute.

Edit: I tend to keep a usb battery with me anyway.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:49 PM on March 6, 2021

A side note: I have a first gen SE. A year ago I traveled to Florida for a week. The battery lasts at least three times longer there than it does here in the Seattle area.
posted by bz at 5:39 PM on March 7, 2021

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