Why iPhone battery life sucks

You get a new iPhone, you add a bunch of push mail accounts, download apps that hit the GPS and light up notifications, you watch a ton of video and play as many games as you possibly can, you do it all over LTE while blaring your Bluetooth speaker, and you curse that the frakken battery doesn't last several days. Matthew Panzarino of The Next Web rightly claims battery life is the iPhone's -- is every phone's -- biggest flaw:

My time with the Mophie Juice Packs, and other battery packs like them, has led me to a simple conclusion. We don’t need the iPhone’s battery to be 10% better, or 20% better. We need it to be 100% better.

Battery life is the choke point of every piece of modern, mobile technology, and sadly there's little sign of radical, transformative improvement coming any time soon (just more "cheating" of the astonishing kind Panzarino describes in his piece). A 5-inch iPhone could potential pack more power, but a bigger screen to power could mitigate that as well. A watch-sized device running iOS could be a far greater battery challenge.

Maybe Apple will deliver a power revolution the way their focus and scale allowed them to deliver a Retina revolution. Absent that, maybe they could stop worrying about making the iPhone so goram thin, add a couple of millimeters back, and chock the extra space full of battery.

"Today we're delivering a phone that's every bit as thin as the iPhone 4... but achieves an astonishing 20 hours of battery life on Wi-Fi or LTE."

mophie built-in. I'm sure there's many people who'd make that trade-off in a heartbeat.

Hit the link below for more on the problem.

Source: The Next Web

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.

78 Comments
  • my phone battery does well as long as I don't have my work Exchange email activated during the day (which I typically don't since I'm already at my desk). if this could get better, and the last update was supposed to help, that would be ideal. Otherwise I'm happy with it :-)
  • I am a busy business owner and use my iPhone 5 all the time. I think the iPhone's battery is fine. It lasts me all day and the next. The author of this article is one of the very few people who very heavily uses his iPhone to the point of needing an additional battery. The solution for any mobile device is to get an external battery. This way, on those occasions you need more battery time, you can use it. I recommend getting the New Trent Easypak NT70T 7000mAh External Battery Pack and Charger. It can easily triple your run time on the iPhone 5. Of course, the heavier you use the iPhone (or any smartphone for that matter), the more quickly you run out of battery power. That is true of any device. Samsung's Galaxy 3, for example, CANNOT CHARGE the phone fast enough when you use LTE GPS with realtime driving directions. If you used only the battery, you will run out of battery before you reach your destination. LTE uses A LOT of energy. I prefer turning off LTE when not online or downloading large documents since it is energy that is wasted even when idling. 3G easily does the rest. Even a Toyota Prius - which is suppose to get 50+ miles a gallon - will only get 30 miles a gallon if you mash on the accelerator pedal for jack rabbit starts and drive it as if it was a sports car.
  • I bought a PowerGen PGMPP8400 8400mAh External Battery Pack from amazon for travel and keep it in my Timbuk2 bag just in case. Charges the iPhone real quick if you use the higher amp side... nice to have in a pinch.
  • Your suggestion to use a battery pack may work for someone who gets to sit at their desk for the majority of the day but it doesn't work for someone like me who is out-and-about all day. Personally, the iPhone is great but you can't stay far away from a charger, especially being out in the field. I use to buy extended batteries but I hate the bulk and even if the battery was user replaceable, I hate walking around with extra batteries in my pocket. I'm looking forward to switching to the Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S4 or Galaxy Note 3 in the next few months. Had a chance to use. GN2 with LTE and I was more than able to get through a 12 hour work day, make it home and still have 40%. It was extremely hard giving it back to my friend. Apple needs to get their act together, add back the few millimeters and make their batteries bigger or something.
  • No I don't think so , because numerous people have reported the same problem stating that the iPhone 5 just doesn't have a good life span/battery life. regardless if the author is a heavy phone user it should be able to support its users needs. i mean compared to the iPhone 4, the iPhone 5 's battery cannot withstand half the amount of how much I was constantly on my iPhone4 . I'm currently charging as I am typing and my phone has been plugged in for more than 3 hours now and it's only at 60% . My old iPhone 4 would fully charge with in an hour to an hour and a half and would be able to last me the whole day regardless if I was completely using it for music and videos for a good amount of time.
  • Call me dumb but I NEVER thought of doing something this simple as just turning off my work exchange when I'm at work. Thanks for bringing this to light. I'm on a 3gb data plan I I consistently would go over ever month. I even recently bought a CLEAR mobile hotspot with unlimited data to connect to while at work to avoid further overages.
  • First off, my iPhone5 is my first smart phone ever, so I would not say the battery life sucks but I do agree with much of this article. I actually think the thinness of the iPhone is terribly overrated. I had no problem whatsoever with the thickness of iPhone4 and would have been very happy if 5 was the same thickness. I think Apple is a bit off track with the thinness of the new phone being a huge plus. I would much rather have a beefier phone with better battery life. As a footnote, I actually have a Musubo "Retro" phone cover and love that it gives the phone a sturdier feel. It's a gorgeous phone without a case but feels like it would bend in my pocket so I chose to firm it up with a case.
  • Agreed. The thinness is a little off putting. Make it thicker with a heftier battery that will make the phone feel more substantial. I'd be happy as a lark!
  • Yes. I agree completely
  • While I don't use my iPhone straight through the day, I use it often and my battery life is fine. I charge it daily and have enough juice to get through an entire day. On the other hand, I have noticed it drain considerably faster when using panoramic mode or taking video. You always want more life to a battery no matter how long it lasts.
  • I have an iPhone 5. Can't say the battery sucks at all - the only ones I really see complaining are all from the US. Can I suggest it's your lack of cell towers thats causing it? Same with dropped calls - I never get them unless I'm in the US. (ok, if I got into a tunnel, but thats kind of to be expected, right?). Normally, I can go 2 days without charging, with music playing, on wifi, push email (google via "exchange push") etc. A little worse if I use London's tube system a bit, but I never get less than a 18 hour day out of it.
  • Cell towers may be partially to blame but heavy phone use is very subjective. Your heavy use might be my light use. I hear people saying all the time they can go 2 days with "heavy" use, I almost always have to charge up mid day. Hearing people compare battery stats is always a take with a grain of salt type of conversation.
  • Oh, yes, I suspect my use is fairly light compared to most. I use almost no voice minutes a month, tho I do use a fair bit of data. If I go to a conference, it's usually dead by 5pm. Still, if you only get 6 hours (lunch time), then either you are on constantly, or.... well, something is wrong with the phone.
  • It may be the difference between lte and hspa being in use. My friends AT
  • yeah, no LTE here in the UK (well, EE has it, but I'm not pays 3x my current plan for less data, less minutes, less texts and somewhat faster speed) That said, I'm on WIFI most of the time....
  • Wondering why solar powering can't be added to smart phones? I'm not educated about these things but you would think somebody would invent solar power to at least help with increasing battery life. Maybe not fully charge it but add to the power.
  • I've often wondered this also. Even if it couldn't be your sole source of power it seems like it would help and be a free way to get a little extra out of your phone no matter where you were at.
  • Simple answer: it doesn't work.
  • We know that solar works.....why not in a phone setting? I have a citizen watch that gets recharged by the light, maybe that's not powerful enough for a phone....but the tech is there unless you care to elaborate on your statement a little bit more.
  • 1. Not a lot of sunlight comes through a pocket or purse unless you wear clear pants
    2. The tiny solar panels don't generate enough power to charge a phone Also a low power watch consumes less than a microwatt of power versus half a watt of power consumed by an smartphone at its best.
  • I think this can be compared to car engines pretty easily. 15 - 20 years ago, the only way to get more horsepower was to make a bigger engine. This is the "brute force" method. Adding a bigger battery to the iPhone would be similar.
    Over the past 10 years, car engine technology has skyrocketed and even small 2.0 Liter engines can achieve almost 300 HP. This compares to better efficiency of the components of the iPhone (processor, radios, etc).
    Up until now, battery technology has improved at a snails pace. The only way to improve battery life is to improve efficiency of the hardware.
    In my experience, the iPhone 5 (Verizon) is great for battery life. I have had the iPhone 3G, 3Gs, 4, and 4s, all on AT
  • What 2.0 liter car gets 300hp?!
  • The 2013 Audi S3 and soon the Honda Civic Type-R. Probably others as well :)
  • Sounds like he needs to turn off some of those extraneous functions on his iPhone once in a while, or just use the ones he really needs to have running all the time. Simple fix, and his battery would last for days. I know it cuts off some "valuable" features, but I do it and manage quite nicely.
  • Sounds like he needs to turn off some of those extraneous functions on his iPhone once in a while, or just use the ones he really needs to have running all the time. Simple fix, and his battery would last for days. I know it cuts off some "valuable" features, but I do it and manage quite nicely.
  • That said, this penchant the manufacturers have for paper-thin phones is stupid. With LTE demanding more power, and other functions doing the same, I think most people would be happy with a thicker phone, to just get their phone to last for a full day with everything turned on. I know I would. In my opinion, that should be the benchmark for batter capacity for any phone.
  • I agree that paper thin phones has way to much focus right now. Give me a slightly thicker phone with better battery life any day.
  • Exactly what I was thinking when I read about the iPhone 5's insane thinness in the liveblog. Sure, thinness is great, but definitely not over battery life. If my estimates are right about the physical size of its battery, then adding a milimeter only would allow for TWICE the battery. Of course, this is all from fough analysis of the battery's relative size against that of the iPhone, as obtained from the iFixit teardown, but I'm pretty sure that at under 9 mm too, Apple could've come pretty close to doubling battery life. Heck, even Motorola shoved in an almost twice as large battery into the Droid Razr without making it too fat. Nothing should prevent Apple, often regarded as the best place in most engineers; opinion, from doing the same. Also, here's a fun fact: The iPhone 5 has a mere 40 mAh of battery more than the original iPhone. It decreased drastically with the 3G (a strange decision, given the inclusion of an even more power hungry radio, but in line with the incremental upgrade the 5 got), and has since been crawling its way back up since. Here's the fun bit: Meanwhile the Samsung Galaxy S series, (whose 3rd-gen SIII is, for arguments sake, in the iPhone 5's generation, while the original was announced within days of the iPhone 4) has gone from a 1500 mAh (That's right: two, and soon three generations back, they had more juice than the current iPhone) to a 2100 mAh battery, while the iPhone went from 1420 mAh (iPhone 4) to 1440 mAh (iPhone 5). Although this may actually speak in favour of Apple's optimization and efficiency, it does too for one other thing too: Apple wanna minimize more than anything else. They don't care about the consequences (barely 4-5 hours of battery on 3G, which, coincidentally, is the network 90+ percent of the world uses), or maybe they just care about keeping the folks in the USA happy over anything (As the release of services and features such as Passbook, Siri, 4G LTE and Maps, most suited to a first-world environment, and especially the US, over the last year shows; these same services and features are limited elsewhere or even totally useless sometimes).
  • My iPhone 5 battery is just fine; always has been since I bought it last November. I can use it all day long (this includes several phone calls and a few (read many attempts at playing Temple Run), put it on my nightstand at night, and when I get up in the morning, it still has power. I suppose if people have everything in notification center, the phone beeping at you every time they receive an email or a tweet, or whatever.....sure, the battery life will be poor. But honestly, my battery is as fine as frogs hair. No complaints whatsoever...
  • I'd make that trade in a heartbeat. I have a juice pack on my phone and often throw a powerstation in my bag when I know I'll be away from a plug a long time. The most interesting work on batteries (capacitors, really) is not the Berkeley Li-ion studies cited in the article, but the exploration of graphene models at UCLA. Optimistic, somewhat hyperbolic summary article: http://www.examiner.com/article/graphene-super-capacitor-could-make-batt... Apple may or may not be doing similar work, but all mobile makers should be interested in following it, and investigating applications of it across their product lines. Edit: shortened link http://www.examiner.com/article/graphene-super-capacitor-could-make-batt... Imore app bug report: when a URL is so long that the web view truncates it, the app uses the truncated text as the link, which of course is a broken link.
  • I completely agree with this. I need more battery, not less phone.
  • [deleted] -- added edit to original post
  • We need a phone powered by nuclear power!
  • I don't know what the heck your talking about. The battery life is awesome on the iPhone 5. It's way better then the battery life on my old iPhone 4 and especially my old 4S. I say this as someone who you would classify as a heavy user. I use over 8GB of data a month. You want to talk about a phone with crap battery, then lets look at the Galixy S3 which my father uses. His phone always has to be plugged in and he is always complaining about the battery life.
  • I don't get this guys issue. You're basically carrying a laptop in your pocket in a very miniaturized form. If I can get more than a day out of the device I'm content. Some of the stuff he mentions is just ridiculous. Why would anyone want their screen on while the phone is in their pocket? Why would you constantly keep toggling Bluetooth on/off? It feels like a Mophie advertisement built around baseless complaining. He wants dumbphone battery life on a smartphone and that probably isn't going to happen. Yesterday with my phone off the charger at 9 AM, and a day (and night) of very heavy use I woke up at 39% remaining. I'll take that over my old WinMo 6800 that couldn't even get through 8 hours of standby time when it shipped. I had to carry a charger with me at all times and that was in the days where there was no pushmail and 3g connections died if you didn't use them for like 10-15 minutes. I've been using smartphones long enough to know that while maybe they should be looking to improve them more, where we've gotten to is pretty amazing enough that I don't feel slighted or like I'm missing out on some usage of my iphone that I should be getting. I'm not constantly disabling features or anything. I'm just using it and I have no complaints.
  • I've had my 5 for about three weeks now and I'm finding its as good, if not better, than any android device I had.
  • I should clarify that that statement was aimed at battery life. Everything else, i5 wins hands down.
  • Are you kidding?! The iPhone 5 has one of the best batteries...I can get through everyday on a single charge...No problems at all.
  • I am a busy business owner and use my iPhone 5 all the time. I think the iPhone's battery is fine. It lasts me all day and the next. The author of this article is one of the very few people who very heavily uses his iPhone to the point of needing an additional battery. The solution for any mobile device is to get an external battery. This way, on those occasions you need more battery time, you can use it. I recommend getting the New Trent Easypak NT70T 7000mAh External Battery Pack and Charger. It can easily triple your run time on the iPhone 5. Of course, the heavier you use the iPhone (or any smartphone for that matter), the more quickly you run out of battery power. That is true of any device. Samsung's Galaxy 3, for example, CANNOT CHARGE the phone fast enough when you use LTE GPS with realtime driving directions. If you used only the battery, you will run out of battery before you reach your destination. LTE uses A LOT of energy. I prefer turning off LTE when not online or downloading large documents since it is energy that is wasted even when idling. 3G easily does the rest. Even a Toyota Prius - which is suppose to get 50+ miles a gallon - will only get 30 miles a gallon if you mash on the accelerator pedal for jack rabbit starts and drive it as if it was a sports car.
  • The premise goes wrong in one major area. The thickness of the iPhone 4 and the increase area for the iPhone 5 would not lead to double the battery life. This is a click bait article, and I bit.... I do agree that battery technology has lagged other technologies. While some advancements have been made there haven't been any major leaps like processor, RAM speeds, and manufacturing processes.
  • I concur. Of course the battery is the limiting factor in all smart phones but there have been advances in doing more with less (more efficient RAM and such) but I do feel that phone manufacturers are oddly in love with size and arbitrary numbers. But for the time being people will need to just find more convenient ways to charge their phones if they use them more often.
  • The statement about packing in more battery instead of shrinking the dimensions is spot on. Those saying their battery life is fine are missing the point: more is better. No one walks into a store and says, "I'll just take this 37" TV, it's big enough, it's fine." We all want the largest screen our space and pocket will allow. My battery life is "fine" in the sense that it lasts as long as it should given my use. But it's not "fine" in the sense that I have a freaking Mophie making my my phone almost an inch longer, a half inch thicker, the grip less secure, and the ergonomics thrown completely off just to make it through a day if I can't get a top off charge at some point. I use my phone a lot. That's what I paid for: to use it the way I need and want to use it. I wish the manufacturers would stop shoving a thinness spec down my throat as something I should get excited about. Give me more juice!
  • My job entitles dealing with cellular technology all day long. It cracks me up when people who upgrade from a non-frills plain cell phone to an IOS or Android based phone complain they don't get a week anymore out of their battery. I always ask them how long they get out of their laptops (typically 2-4 hours) and then ask what do they expect from a device that is the pocket size equivelent. I do think that battery technology needs to improve, so hopefully they will crack that nut in the not too distant future.
  • That's why it's called an iPhone. It's only suppose to do what a phone does. For everything else, there's the iPad. Learn the difference.
  • Actually, it is marketed as doing all that and more. Learn how it is positioned by Apple, please.
  • EXACTLY! Only reason iPhone battery life sucks is because of the capacity of the battery itself. In order to save money and to keep aesthetics up, they make it thinner with a 'lighter battery.' FUCK THAT, give me 2000+ mah battery and make it heavier. I love my iPhone 4; it's sturdy and I don't feel like it might snap in my hands. A 2000+ mah battery with the iPhone's power management capabilities would be a beast.
  • iPhone battery life sucks because Apple opted for too small a battery for the sake of aesthetics. This is typical Apple vanity that the end user pays for. They could have put in a 2000 mAh battery but chose not to, so as to boast a 20% thinner product. And becuase people buy the prodcut despite its obvious deficiencies, why should they do otherwise? Afterl all, they are in the business of making dollars, that is, products that are good enough, not good per se.
  • I put my phone on charge at every opportunity. I'm constantly fiddling with it throughout the day
  • Maybe the title of the article should be "Why the iPhone battery sucks FOR ME"
  • If you think the battery suck on an iPhone, just try a Samsung Galaxy S3. I had a brief flirtation with it, and I can tell you from apples-to-apples experience (no pun intended) the iPhone 5's battery life is unquestionably superior. With the same amount of use, I couldn't make it through the day without having to charge the S3. And if you used it as a GPS, it would barely hold the charge even plugged in. Yes, the iPhone 5 doesn't have the best battery life, but compared to its closest competitor, there's no comparison. One reason I ditched the S3 and came back.
  • Some batteries last longer than others, but they all discharge. I find charging the phone every night works well. It will last the day, and most of the night until I go to sleep. I have talked two, and a half hours, and still have sixty five precent battery. Turn things off you are not using, look again at push notifications. Heavy use will drain the battery. A power pac is well worth the price when you are not near a plug. I have been on the phone for three hours, talking, and heavy safari search. I still have seventy five precent. I would say not bad.
  • I like the battery life of my iPhone 5, then again I came from an HTC Sensation rooted with an Android 4.2 build...
  • Next iPhone needs to improve the battery life. Period.
  • One think I always do is turn off Bluetooth and wifi whenever possible... This has tremendously improved the battery life on my 4s.... I absolutely do not want to use mophie... Especially with 4s...
  • The simple fact is that the increased functionality of modern smartphones puts a greater demand on power. It also seems that many here would sacrifice thinnest for a bigger battery.
    Apple could provide the option of a removable battery if they really wanted to. Sealing in the battery reduces the cost of designing, making and installing the necessary hardware, plus they can charge the customer if the battery ever needs replacement, because it isn't a diy job for most owners.
  • This YouTube video has all the best iPhone battery tips you will need for battery life. Very helpful video. It's number one in iPhone tips on YouTube.
    http://youtu.be/KiRh_uANY_o
  • I'm using the Galaxy Note 2 right now, and the one thing that drains the battery is the screen...of course. Turn off that automatic brightness, and dim the screen and the difference is like night and day. In fact, with automatic brightness on, running GPS, listening to music, with bluetooth headset connected, the battery will drain while plugged into a standard cigarette lighter! The Note 2 comes with its own power adapter and rated USB cord. Anything else is not likely to carry enough juice to charge it without taking forever. So fi