Apple set the bar for smartphones with the introduction of the iPhone. Now over four years later, the fifth generation of the iPhone, the 4S, has hit the ground running; running out of battery life. Numerous complaints are being posted about the abbreviated life of the battery in the new iteration of the iPhone, and Apple is being forced to take notice. There has been much speculation as to the cause of the issue; however, it is becoming clearer to many that this issue seems to go hand in hand with the new iOS 5.0 software that released two days prior to the 4S release.
The issue appears to be processes running behind the scenes that do various things, one of which is verifying the current time zone, a service that seems to run far too frequently. This is a feature that can be disabled, and disabling time zone checking has been reported to help with the issue to a certain degree. Apple has requisitioned some user participation from the complaining customer pool and asked them to add a file to their 4S that will track usage and help target the problem(s). Targeting this will be key to the success of the 4S, but should not hamper sales greatly as Apple is usually quick to action in these situations.
A History Of Launch Failures
The original iPhone was revolutionary, but every release has had some kind of technical problem. The original iPhone could break at an unreasonably fast speed. Something as common as a drop could easily shatter the touchscreen, rendering the phone virtually unusable. This was a common problem, but the iPhone still managed to sell very well.
The iPhone 3G initially came out to praise: critics loved the 3G compatibility, which allowed lightning fast downloads. Despite downloading apps extremely fast, 3G users soon reported numerous hairline cracks, battery life issues and crashing issues. After hearing the complaints, one year later, Apple released the 3GS. The 3GS managed to fix nearly every problem the previous models were plagued with, but they had a new problem on their hands for this release. The iPhone 3GS is notorious for overheating; users constantly complained that the device would refuse to work in a hot car, and several reports even claimed it would break from overheating. Next, Apple released the iPhone 4, and almost immediately got hit with a media barrage about the “grip of death”. If a user would hold the phone, and cover the lower left corner, they would often get poor reception, resulting in dropped calls. This problem actually led to a court case. In response, Apple offered free cases to all iPhone 4 users. These cases fixed the problem, and made the iPhone 4 nearly flawless. Now, with the iPhone 4S launching to battery issues, it seems just another expected failure in the long line of Apple launches.
What To Do?
Overall, this is probably a reason to postpone a purchase of the 4S, but not dissuade anyone completely from buying it. There will definitely be a fix in the near future that will solve the issue and hopefully not create others. Those that exercise patience will save some frustration as Apple sorts this out, but the battery life issues are not a big deal for most individuals who are capable of changing the iPhone’s settings to disable the most battery-hogging services and who have access to outlets at least once every several hours. Also, since the fix is almost certainly going to be a software update, rather than a replacement of the iPhone’s hardware, you can always buy now and fix the battery issues as soon as iOS 5.0.1 is released.