1st gen iPhone battery life issues: it’s the apps?

I’ve had my original iPhone for over a year now, and I’ve had a pretty stable use pattern. I charge the phone often (every time I’m in a car (daily) and every other night attached to my computer) and rarely see the battery dip below maximum. For usage, I typcially use it for about 15 minutes of internet stuff in the morning, I’ll use it for about 10 minutes or so around lunch, and I’ll often go out for 60-90 minutes of daily exercise time using it as a music player. I probably make an average of only 3-5 calls on it a week, so it’s mostly an internet device to me, acting in place of a laptop whenever I’m outside of my house.

In the week since the launch of the 2.0 OS, I’ve loaded my iPhone up with about a dozen apps, but mostly I’ve just tested them out or played with them for five minutes and haven’t launched them a second time. The one app I surprisingly use (surprising because I’m not normally into games and not into cards/gambling at all) is the Texas Hold ’em game. I’ve probably played it an hour a day since I got the iPhone 2.0 OS.

What I’ve noticed so far is that if I play a few hands in the game, then hit the sleep button at the top to throw the phone in my pocket or put it on a table to be ignored, when I come back my battery will be down to a half or less. It happened the other night when I played the game before bed. I woke up to a nearly dead iPhone on my nightstand.

It’s weird because I’ve never “exited” or “quit” iPhone’s native apps before and I’ve never had battery life issues. I often just hit the sleep button when I’m reading email or in the camera app, and the battery will be fine hours later. Yesterday I noticed I played some poker, hit the sleep button, went away for one hour, and my battery was half drained.

I know it’s a pain that Apple screens all the apps and I bet 3G and GPS are power drains on the new iPhone, but I have a feeling even the well-vetted apps are causing a lot of power consumption that wasn’t happening in the past.

I’ll concede this is just a hunch and I may be wrong, but after a year of a constantly full battery under mild use, the only changes I’ve made in the past week were using one new app, and my battery is now getting drained much faster.

Published by mathowie

I build internet stuff.

7 replies on “1st gen iPhone battery life issues: it’s the apps?”

  1. I think your hypothesis makes sense. According to Craig Hockenberry, “Apps remain active after screen dim or power switch. Home button or URL scheme handled externally are the only way apps quit,” which matches my experience when running, say, Last.fm or Pandora, which keep playing music when I hit the top button to turn the screen off, but will stop when I hit the Home button.
    Conceivably (cough), Texas Hold ‘em should be listening for some sort of applicationWillResignActive: message to tell it when the user has locked the device and should put itself into idle at that point. My guess is that it is not.


  2. Weird. I haven’t used that particular app, but I’ve been using apps (Enigmo!) and have thought the opposite: It seems like the 2.0 upgrade has improved by battery performance. Used to not be able to get through the day before I’d get low battery warnings but I haven’t seen one since the 2.0 upgrade.


  3. I noticed the same thing happening until someone told me about the “Fetch New Data” setting (in “Settings”). Apparently there’s a new option that’ll automatically “Push” data to your phone for apps that allow it. If you turn that off, battery life gets alot better!


  4. I’ve noticed the same thing as well. I just ran a simple test which seems to support that conclusion. I left my phone with Twinkle running for an hour — which burned substantially more battery (about 20% of a fresh charge, in an hour) than when I hit the suspend button at the home screen.
    This is really a potentially devastating bug.


  5. I listen to my iPhone all day at work and would usually have to plug it into the charger after about 8 hours of music. After I upgraded to 2.0, I have to recharge after about 5-6 hours of music. I downloaded several apps, but really open them at work. I do, however, have one Exchange email account and one Yahoo email account set to “Push” new data. I didn’t expect it to have THAT much of an impact on battery life…


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