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How to Save Your iPhone 4S' Crappy Battery

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You might have noticed your new iPhone lasts about as long as Kim Kardashian's marriage—and what's the point of nifty new features if your phone's dead? Use these tweaks to squeeze the most life out of your battery.


The 4S battery situation is a little weird! It's got a slightly higher capacity than the iPhone 4 (5.3 WHrs versus 5.25), yet Apple gives it a worse battery life prediction. Why? For one, it's got a dual core processor, but there's also a ton of software action going on that's taxing your battery, hard. Location-aware features punch your battery every time they're used—and there are a lot of 'em. There could also just be some glitches afoot. At any rate, one or a mix of all these factors are making 4S users whine for good reason. So let's try and do something about it.

Location, Location, Location
The biggest battery murder culprit is Apple's new push on location awareness. Reminders, Find My Friends, and the underlying software that allows Foursquare to do creepy/neat things like remind you to stop at a nearby cafe. No matter how you're using it, your new iPhone is using its GPS and cellular powers to find itself in the world way more often than ever before. That's a kick in the nads for battery. Luckily, you can turn a lot of it off.


To start, go into Location Settings, found in the main Settings list. You'll see a long rundown of every app on your phone that might take a little bite out of your battery. Some make a lot of sense (Maps) while some make zero sense at all (Angry Birds). Use your judgment. If you want the Chipotle app to more speedily direct you to a burrito, keep it enabled. Weather is a real killer—it'll hunt for your location every time you drop down the Notification Center to give you local forecasts. It's cool, but horrible on your charge.

Now let's dig deeper—at the very bottom of the list is a brand new button labeled System Services. Hit it. Here is the real battery succubus. Kill these things:

Turn off Diagnostics & Usage (Information about how and where you're using your phone, sent automatically to Apple).


Turn off Location-Based iAds (Ads are shitty enough, you don't need them to know where you are)

Setting Time Zone (Unless you're flying to a different country every other day, you probably don't need your phone to constantly see if you'ved moved nations and setting the time zone accordingly)


Traffic (Sure, the fewer people who use this, the less reliable crowdsourced traffic maps are. A necessary sacrifice.)

Slow Down Email
Push email is convenient, but the always on connection is a juice sucker. If you don't mind having to wait, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Fetch New Data, turn off Push, and set Fetch to the longest interval you can tolerate (manual is best).


iCloud Tantrum
Some blame iCloud's background syncing for anemic lifespan. MacWorld's Christopher Breen says his 4S was stuck in a crash cycle while trying to constantly sync his backups. Try deactivating your iCloud powers and see if that boosts battery—if so, nuke the phone and set up iCloud again from scratch.

The Usual Suspects
Some battery tips will always work. Don't forget about the tried and true methods: turn down screen brightness, keep Bluetooth and Wi-Fi off, and switch off 3G data if you don't need your data connection. If all else fails, many users on Apple's official discussion boards are saying they've seen battery improvements after during a full system reset and starting from scratch. That might sound like a righteous pain in the ass, but worth a shot.


Condition Your Battery
Here's a lame analogy: batteries are like muscles. They need to be worked a bit before they're at peak condition. One 4S owner says he's seen big gains by draining his battery to the point of death, then letting it charge all the way back up to 100%.

So, uh, why is this happening?
Nobody is exactly sure. A lot of people are feeling similar drainage woes on their iPad 2 and iPhone 4 after upgrading to iOS 5. It could be the new software features.


Or hardware might be at the bottom of it all. The iPhone 4S' new A5 processor has two cores, which might be chugging more power than Apple expected. The A5 and the A4 in the iPhone 4 both use the same 45nm fabrication process (translation: how small are the tiny parts on the processor—lower is more power-efficient). But, interestingly, the A5 is allegedly capable of throttling its speed to conserve power when needed. If this function's gone haywire in the 4S, it's possible that a software update could whip the chip into shape.

There's also that damn screen. The Retina Display is gorgeous, yeah, but pumping up that many pixels in such a thin form puts the iPhone at a disadvantage compared to some of its slightly chubbier Android adversaries, which eke out better battery life despite similar location features. As Joan of Arc said, with great looks comes great responsibility.


Photo via iFixit

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