Is Your iPhone Battery Life 20% Less With Push Notification?

Back when Apple re-introduced Push Notification at the iPhone 3.0 Sneak Preview Event, Scott Forstall claimed that, unlike background multitasking that could cause an 80% drop in battery life, Push Notification would only cause a 20% drop. While some debated the truth (or truthiness) of his claims, it did set the expectation that users running Push Notification-enabled apps would see lower battery life, and gave an indicator of just how much less.

So, while it too a while, now that we finally have Push Notification, and some of the more popular messengers and games are implemented it, how's your battery life doing?

Are you seeing a hit compared to your pre-Push Notification days, and if so, is it in the 20% range? Let us know which iPhone you have, how often you're getting Push Notifications, and how your battery is holding up!

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

118 Comments
  • I would say so, or say i don't even notice a change at all.. it's hard to tell really because my battery life is amazing.
    I am using push for Beejive IM right now, and also IM +
    I basically get up in the morning at 6:00am unplug my iPhone and go out to have my day.
    I don't plug it in again to charge it until around 10:00pm at night when i go to bed.
    My battery lasts me all day long and normally by the time i go to plug it in it's still Green.
    So to be short about it.... Turning on push never changed anything for the worse so i don't even pay attention to jotting down how much of a % loss i'm getting.
  • Such a fluff comment above me. Wish I could write the same.
    I don't even use Push Notifications and just with the 3.0 update, I've seen a dramatic decrease in battery life with Wi-Fi turned on. It's almost ridiculous. I can watch the battery meter drain if I sit for a few minutes.
  • I havent noticed a difference. I only have a couple push apps but the battery seems to last just as long as it did before.
  • WOW. That 1st comment..
    AMAZING = not even 1 day? HUH?
    Mine does last about 1 full day. I am not a heavy user, but HAVE noticed a little drop in battery life with push. I just barely squeek a day out of mine, OR about 8 hours if I listen to Ootunes via wifi.
    Anyone ever get 2 full days out of theirs with no charging?
  • Sorry iPhoneMilk, but the interwebs say otherwise...and i have o agree...battery life on 3.0 sucks, and most people claim that once they turn push notifications off, it improves more than 20%
    Apple better release a new firmware soon, because right now, all their campaign for Push Notifications vs Multitasking seems RIDICULOUS
  • yeah, i've noticed a drop in battery life when push notification is switch on... I've actually switched it off now for BeeJive..
  • I have been a beta user of iPhone 3.0 and the battery life without any Push or Notification apps has improved considerably since 2.x. With Find my iPhone turned on and running a few Push apps, the battery life has returned to 2.x levels on my phone. With only Notifications and 3G turned off and Push turned off, the battery life doesn't seem to have changed even with active IM'ing on IM+ and even after having an hour long voice call on Skype via wifi. Everyone's mileage will vary.
    For those having an issue, I suggest that they backup their iPhone and do a Restore which will wipe the phone and install 3.0 and then restore the settings and then install all the apps and media files - I think they'll find the battery issues a thing of the past after that.
  • I haven't noticed a drop in battery life personally
  • My battery life drops like a rock on push notifications. It got so bad I had to turn of all push notifications.
  • My battery is ok with 3.0 but I've heard Apple is working on a new OS release to settle some specific energy issues.
    Apple's push notifications are weird. Ok if it's for battery saving, but push is not only for games or IMs - or any other online stuff. I miss alarms in many offline apps, like task managers - and in other various "managers". Exactly the way I always had in my previous Palm/WinMo/Symbian devices.
    Remember The Milk now has push, but it doesn't make any sense NOT getting alarms for tasks if you are out of cell/wifi coverage, e.g. during bus or plane trips. I use OmniFocus and hope the guys from OmniGroup fix it.
  • First off getting through 1 day is the goal of a battery, thats why they invented chargers. No phone is made for more than a full day of regular usage.
    Second, yes the battery takes a small hit with push notifications. But did anyone stop to think about maybe because youre USING the phone more the battery SEEMS to drain faster? The screen being on and using the phone more than sitting in idle may be a false sense that the battery is draining faster when its just youre physically using it more than sitting in standby.
    Doesnt sound like any fix is needed unless you leave it in idle as much as not using the IM push app or what not, not answering, and seeing if it drains more than with the push off. That's the only TRUE way to test if its the push itself taking the battery vs higher usage replying to all the notifications
  • I have a 3gs with one push notification app (AIM) and have noticed quite a drop in my normal battery life. I have been spending more time on safari using edge but I have been disappointed in the amount of bat life I get. Especially since the car chargers I had with my original iPhone do not work with the new one.
  • Like mentioned by "ads", for people having issues with poor battery life - sometimes a restore will work wonders to help solve the battery issue. I would go one step further and start as a new iPhone instead of using a backup file.
  • Honestly, I haven't really seen any change at all.
    And I have like 4 apps running them.
    I don't constantly get notifications but who does?
    Anyways, don't see much of a difference.
  • it´s not a SMALL hit...read people´s complaints on apple´s own official forums...
    and yeah, i also did a clean install (did not restore from backup)...when push notifications are on, battery life drops like mad
  • "I don’t constantly get notifications but who does? "
    Is that a joke? Push Notifications where announced to be apple´s answer for people needing to have IM apps running all the time. And those people receive ALOT of notifications. And right now, that makes battery life very very bad
  • I haven't noticed. The Batt is GREAT! I run beejive and IM+ allday. I am a heavy user. Why both IM's? I can't decide which one to delete there botg great. One tweets the other doesn't. One stays logged in for 3 days? One doesn't.
  • I use Gmail. I'm still waiting to have push capabilities. I'll let you know when/if we ever get Gmail push.
  • I've definitely noticed a drop in battery life. I have 3 apps with Push Notification, but I use the Push feature in only one of them and even then not very much. Still, I'm getting 20% battery notifications frequently. Hopefully this will be fixed in 3.1.
  • Battery goes down faster for sure. Especially while using it now. Wifi seems to eat it up much faster as well. Can make it through the day but normally plug it into my laptop when I get home from work every day now.
  • I absolutely noticed the hit right after the upgrade and a few push apps. It was so bad I couldn't get a full day with the same amount of use as pre-3.0. I had to do a clean restore (no previous data re-installed) as per Apple to get iTunes to stop taking 20 minutes to sync (which didn't work). It was actually nice to have a clean install again but guess what, no change in battery after the restore, it's still bad. I have given up on push for now. I was pretty excited about 3.0 but now the only benefit of it is copy/paste which I do like.
  • I upgraded from a 3G to a 3GS and I don't see any noticeable difference in battery life. On both devices under heavy use, the battery won't last a whole day. Under my normal workload, it'll last a day and I charge it overnight.
    By "heavy" use, I mean playing games, watching videos, using Bluetooth, or the GPS. By "normal" use, I mean checking e-mail, browsing the web, or a few phone calls spread throughout the day.
    I can't say if Push makes any difference because I've have Push on since day 1. I've also been using the phone more heavily than normal because it's still new. Once I return to my "normal" usage, I think battery life will be fine and pretty much on par with the 3G.
  • It'd be really cool if Apple did like almost all other smartphone manufacturers and allowed for a removable battery. With an extra battery always on charge, no one (less people) would complain about battery life. My battery is dead, swap it with one I've been charging all day, put the dead one on the charger, repeat. But I know, that would make too much sense.
  • No significant drop.
    I'M+ on all tie time monitoring 5 different services plus AP app.
    I fetch mail on a 30 minute schedual and use push for google calendars.
    I still charge once per day. I really see no difference at all.
    NOT Jailbroken.
  • Ahh, that's why it seems like my batter started running out quicker, good thing the apple geek didn't mention that when I went to replace my phone
  • @stulaw11
    First off getting through 1 day is the goal of a battery, thats why they invented chargers. No phone is made for more than a full day of regular usage.
    My RAZR went 4 or 5 days on a single charge.
    And that included email and lite web surfing.
  • I haven't noticed too much of a difference. I'm a moderate to heavy user and on a typical day after being unplugged all day with push notifications on, my iPhone tends to have 20-30% battery left. I've charged and discharged it almost every day for an entire year now and the battery doesn't seem to be showing any wear, which is great news. It should be noted that is an estimate on the percentage because I don't have the money to upgrade to a 3GS out of contract right now and I also do not play games very often on my phone. However, I am greatly enjoying the benefits of 3.0 and haven't really noticed any of the drawbacks outside of a few very minor bugs here and there. Overall, I couldn't be more happy with my 3.0 device, I'm enjoying the benefits by listening to stereo bluetooth right now in fact!
  • I can't believe people are complaining that it onlt lasts one day. Is it hard to plug it in and set it on your night stand while you're asleep? Is there that much of a benefit to being able to keep it off the charger for more than a day really? Also, the Apple push server requires the iPhone to only connect to that server so it doesn't matter how many services you are monitoring, if it was 1 or 100 it would use your battery the exact same amount (unless many notifications are causing you to use the phone more as a result)
  • icebike
    a Razr requires a lot less resources. Small screen (which is also not a touchscreen), no wifi, no gps, no iPod, no video... And I highly doubt you or anyone else would play with a RAZR one tenth how much people play with their iPhones all day.
    And try playing one of those crappy 16bit games on a RAZR, then play a 3D game on an iPhone 3GS.. See how long the battery lasts on each.
    Hint: it's definitely not a RAZR.
  • @Icebike, a RAZR is a far cry from any smartphone let alone a iPhone. Too many people that come from phones such as the RAZR expect way too much in terms of battery life. It's just a fact that you will have to charge your phone at least once a day *in most cases. Compared to a any "dumb" phone.
    Anyone who has owned a 3G Windows Mobile device or any HTC device knows the battery life on the iPhone is not bad.
  • I have noticed that I have to charge a little earlier in the day, but, since I normally keep the phone plugged in while at work, it has not had any noticeable effect on my day. (For the record, AP News, Beejive, google calendar, fetch email hourly.)
    @Bia
    That is not something Omni can fix -- until Apple offers either background processes or some local alternative (e.g. API hooks into Clock or Calendar app?), 3rd party alarms/notifications on non-jailbroken iphones are going to require some manner of network coverage.
  • I agree with Al. If your battery makes it through a day, then you're golden. The idea that you should be able to go 2,3,4 days ... what's the point? Plug it in each night. Done.
    The only PNS I'm currently using is Associated Press. I have not noticed any dip in battery life. If you notice a big drop, try disabling the PNS on each app, 1 at a time. For awhile, the Exchange Server I was using (I know, not the same thing, but it is similar) was draining my battery big time. Turned out, it was maintaining an 'always on' connection such that my phone was never truly in stand-by mode. Never know. A particular PNS service might do the same. It shouldn't, but it might.
  • "I use Gmail. I’m still waiting to have push capabilities. I’ll let you know when/if we ever get Gmail push."
    :)
  • barely used my phone today and im already at 75%
  • 3G 16GB iphone.
    My 3G iphone used to last about 36 hours of operation. With the new push notification, it's down to less than 24 Hours...
    I should note that, if my push notification isn't on, battery life is about the same as it was before.
    TextFree is one app that has push notification on all the time, and that sucked my battery life so bad that I opted to uninstall it.
    Beejive has push notification, but at least you can decide how long to have it on after you've exited the app.
    Despise the quick drain of battery life, push notification is nice to have, so I will be buying a car charger...
  • My battery doesn't usually last the day with heavy use.
    However, I think one issue with the battery usage is the perception that the battery percentage indicator gives. I have a jailbroken 3G and turned on battery percentage with SBSettings. That thing will drive you nuts. The battery percentage will all of the sudden drop 5% out of nowhere. I also don't like to see it below 50% (half empty). I ended up turning it off. The standard battery bar is enough.
  • Some people are comical with there responses on this. Bottom line the battery life is atrocious when on 3g period. If you use straight edge it's ridiculously slow waiting for a page to load. It really makes you have to carry two phones. Some people don't have the time to charge in the day while either working or just out and about. There has to be a medium. People tell you t restore and all this b s. Apple put out 3.0 after working on it for about 6 months and people are having problems and we are waiting again for fixes. Don't get me wrong I love the iPhone but honestly I'm really just considering using this as an iPod touch and just getting another phone because this is driving me crazy. I don't care what apple says you need to be able to change the battery or a bigger one. Edge is just great for talking. At last let us pull down from the top a window to change instead of going into the settings without jailbreaking. They don't want you to jailbreak but we are missing functionality. I think I should have waited until they worked this mess out. I've had this phone for almost a year and it's been a long one.
  • Umh... is there even enough push notification applications out yet, so you can say that it gives you more battery life. I doubt it.
  • I haven't noticed a drop in battery life either. I'm using Push for 2 different apps, 3G service most of the time. I'm a pretty heavy user and I can squeek out one day. Same as 2.0.
  • I only use push with Beejive, i wouldn't say Im using Push very much. And its really only when im in wifi range. But otherwise, My battery lasts long enough for me to play with it all day, walk to and from the pub with music, and play the occasional game. (not doom or sims 3 though, they are the destroyer of batteries. So as said "I'm Golden"
    Honestly, if your primary concern is battery life on a phone, if you go hiking for days at a time or something, then get a 'dumb' phone. 'I want music as well!' Get an ipod to go with it. If you still need power, get a solio or something.
    You know, i swear part of the whining comes from the 'expected battery life' bandied about in the industry. I think Apple is quite fair in that they give battery life estimates in a variety of situations, so much for standby, so much for talk, so much for music. When people see figures in the hundreds of hours standby on phones like the RAZR they take that as being amazing. Not realizing how these things are tested for that figure, (underhandedly) or how much more complicated and power hungry the iphone is in comparison.
  • I haven't noticed any drop in battery life on the 3GS with push notifications on. Easily enough juice to get through a full day.
  • I've noticed that battery life has suffered slightly from my Iphone 3G to my Iphone 3GS, but I think it has more to do with the faster processor eating up more juice than the PNS. When I switched on push for IM+, there was no noticeable change in battery life. It will last a full day easily, 2 if I really push it. It's really all about how you use it. If you are constantly opening and closing tons of apps and playing high-end games and whatnot, then your battery life is going to be ALOT less, for obvious reasons. I personally am happy with the battery life, just be sure you have a juice pack with u to pump it up should you need it, I always have one when i travel.
  • http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2044027&tstart=75
    51 pages...
    More coments...
    http://www.computerworld.com/comments/node/9135181
    The usual Apple Defense Force might try to throw some smoke into the situation, but it is very obvious something is WRONG
    Let´s hope 3.1 corrects it, and comes out quickly, because i do like push notifications
  • @Ossi:
    Is there even enough push notification applications out yet, so you can say that it gives you more battery life.
    It doesn't matter how many Notification APPs you use.
    All that matters is the NUMBER of notifications you receive.
    Apple maintains exactly ONE TCP/IP connection per PHONE when notifications are turned on. All signaling for any app goes down that single connection.
    So I think the difference here is that there are some users that are getting notifications from very busy Instant Message sources, and their radio never gets a rest. Its receiving notifications all day long.
    Others like me, get far fewer notifications, in which case it is no worse than a Push Mail connection to a very
    low volume mail server.
  • Your battery life will be greatly improved if you just turn off wifi and bluetooth when not in use and turn down your screen brightness. I haven't noticed any decrease in battery life with Push. But then, I only use IM+. I also have to add that, since I am a jailbreaker, I use backgrounder to run other apps in the background and haven't seen the claimed 80% drop in battery life there either.
  • @Adam, @Jeremy:
    Yes, guys, I know the iPhone is better than a Razr.
    I was responding to stulaw11 who said that NO PHONE lasts more than one day. Perhaps he meant to say SmartPhone, but he didn't.
    Some day we will all look back at the one-day runtime as a cruel joke.
  • I notice a drop. Goes from 100 to 80% in about 2 hours, watching a movie or playing music while doing mail, calendar, text messages etc.
    Debating if I should turn Push off but I really love the 'Find My Iphone' concept from MobileMe so keeping it on for now.
    PS: why would anyone compare the iPhone to a RAZR?!?
  • @Goldentree.
    Bluetooth does not use and significant power unless you are USING it. It costs virtually nothing to have the chip listening for a connection.
    Its a little worse with Wifi, but not that much. When the phone is asleep, wifi goes off, and you fall back to 3g/Edge. When the phone is lit up, it starts listening for Wifi. But listening takes little power compared to transmitting.
    Radios use almost no power to listen. They use a lot to transmit.
    Screen brightness is an issue.
    My Wifi, bluetooth, GPS, 3G are ALL on 24/7.
  • My battery is lasting all day from when I get up (6am) to my commute to work where I play games, check the latest news, watch videos, message people, to my continue use at work for listening to music, to my commute home and my home use. I do recharge every night and I see that I'm usually at 30-40% by 10pm.
    My gf who uses hers a little less then I do is at 50% by the end of the day. She plays a lot of games and for most of her work day her iPhone is idle, but she shares the same commutes. And it's white with no discoloration.
  • hmmm. have just switched off push now. will do a 24hr test and report back!
  • @Alex:
    Goes from 100 to 80% in about 2 hours, watching a movie
    So you are getting EXACTLY what Apple Predicted.
    http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html says:
    Video playback: Up to 10 hours (3Gs) 7 Hours (3G).
    2 hours is 20% of 10 hours.
    If its a 3G, you are getting better than expected.
    I don't understand why you consider this a drop.
  • I too have problems with my battery life..and since I'm unable to swap out my dead battery for a fresh one as with other phones I usely carry another phone for back up. Untill I got ...INCASE... the case that has a built in battery charger..you slide your dead phone and as you use your phone it's being charged.
  • I've noticed a decently large hit to my battery life when I enabled push notification for BeeJive. I'm a moderate user (listen to music at work for about 3 hours) and I used to go through 75% of the battery in a day. With the push notification, I noticed I was having to charge the phone when I got home to be able to receive/make calls at night. It isn't too horrible of a situation, but the push notification does make a noticeable impact to battery life.
  • My battery life is compromised when on standby, before I barely noticed a battery reduction when the iPhone was asleep, but now it seems it's on and I'm running an App, so much more than 20%.
  • I have noticed a drop in battery life on my 3GS but that is related to the fact that I use this phone more than any other device I have ever owned. Chargers in 2 rooms in my house, car charger in each vehicle and a charger at work too. I may be looking at a solar charging option too. Battery life is pretty good considering how many times a day I touch the device(calling it a phone does not make sense).
  • Seen no diiference in 3.0 with push. From 2.1 to 2.2 was a huge jump and 2.2.0 to 2.2.1 was dropoff to 2.1 levels. 2.0 hardly lasted a day.
  • Just curious, is there an app that tracks your battery life taking into account the various optional settings you might have on or off?
  • Use the charger. Problem solved.
  • Battery life has been as expected here. My 2g lasted all day and so does my 3gs. I consider myself a mild user. Mainly web-surfing on 3g. Couple podcast, video and audio. Wi-fi is on the whole day but only transmits when I go home. PNS is turned on all day. I always end the day in the green! I guess I've been lucky.
  • Prob why Apple by default doesn't turn on the % batt meter, b/c it's dismal! Something Apple might learn from Windows Mobile (scary to say that) besides better control of notifications....allowing to turn off/on Push for certain times of day. e.g., Push can be kept on 8a-5p, then off in early am and early eve. The idea being that stuff can sync hourly or every 3-4hrs, and we don't need instant notifications....in an effort to preserve battery life.
  • As long as I can get from 6am to 11pm I am happy. I have been running smartphones for a long time now and know how