iPhone non-LTE battery drain issue -- help!
Hi Apple Core,
I purchased my iPhone 5 some weeks ago directly from Apple and, apart from the battery drain, I think it's a great phone.
Beware, this is a longish and somewhat pedantic post designed to get to the bottom of the issue...
The TL;DR is: does being in a low-coverage 3G implicate high battery consumption?
- Network: 3
- LTE: Off (always); I have a 3G-only SIM and 3 does not currently support LTE
- Bluetooth: Off (always)
- GPS: Off
- Brightness: 30%-ish (Auto-Brightness is Off)
- Push notifications: email, PayPal and Facebook. I rarely get updates on the latter two, but emails are frequent
- Where I'm using it:
- Work, where coverage is awful. It fluctuates between No Service to a bar or two of 3G (the average is one bar, from what I can tell)
- Home, where the phone uses my Wi-Fi network
Use Case 1: Spotify streaming on Wi-Fi
I am going to stream a song from Spotify, and provide you with the battery at the start and end of the song. There will be no other apps running and the screen will be turned off.
Song starts at 09.23am, battery life is 55%
Sond ends at 09.27am, battery life is 54%
Now that seems pretty reasonable to me, and might suggest the phone's performance on Wi-Fi is not the issue, so let's try it on 3G.
Use Case 2: Spotify streaming on 3G
Same conditions as before (same song -- Hans Zimmer's Time) except I will have Wi-Fi turned off. I am doing this at home, and I am getting 5 bars of 3G, so the signal is healthy.
Song starts at 09.29am, battery life is 54%
Song ends at 09.34am, battery life is 53%
So, now I am confused. I came here with complaints of battery life and the phone is all of a sudden behaving really well. So let me try a final variation on Spotify. Just on the off-case Spotify uses some kind of caching mechanism for songs recently played, I will try another song on 3G that I have not played before (ever).
Use Case 3: Spotify streaming on 3G, different song
Song: Garden of Peace, by Lonnie Liston Smith (just FYI and for anyone curious)
Song starts at 09.36am, battery life is 56%
Song ends at 09.39am battery life is 52%
OK, so now we are getting somewhere. 4% of battery drain in 3 minutes.
Use Case 4: Playing Super-Hexagon for 5 minutes
Super Hexagon, as some of you might know, is a very simple (but addictive) game on iOS. Its graphics consist of patterns of very simple polygons (and never anything with more sides than a hexagon), and it looks very retro-ish. Similarly, its gameplay is very straightforward -- you're a tiny triangle in the middle of the screen, and your aim is to dodge all the obstacles. The game requires no internet connectivity.
App is launched at 09.46am, battery life is 51%
Finish playing game at 09.51am, battery life is 49%
So that's not bad either. What I'm getting so far is that 3G appears to be the culprit. I'm going to do a final test.
Use Case 5: Web-browsing for 5 minutes on 3G
It's hard to model this; normally when browsing I'd load a page, read it for a minute or two, then click a link and move elsewhere. So that involves a certain amount of dwell time. Here's what I'll do, I'll browse The Verge's mobile site, and try a handful of pages, and remain on each page for about thirty seconds before moving onto the next.
Browsing session begins at 09.55am, battery life is 49%
Browsing session ends at 10.00am, battery life is 46%
Again, maybe that's no too unreasonable, although when you look at the bigger picture, the battery drained from 55% to 46% in 37 minutes. But, OK, I have been in that time been using the phone more or less continuously, and that's not indicative of real world use. In fact, I'm kind of disappointed I haven't been able to prove my point because in real-world use, the phone does drain too quickly for my liking.
What's the deal here, then? My last resort is to talk about my daily, work-life usage. I've got a bunch of songs on Spotify (all pre-cached using Spotify's feature of allowing you up to 3333 songs stored locally on the iPhone itself), and I like to listen to music continuously on my earphones throughout the work day -- but this is non-streaming music so it doesn't or shouldn't exercise the 3G.
There is one other factor here though: the mere fact that my coverage is so bad at work, I wonder if much of the battery drain is coming from the phone's 3G radio constantly trying to get a signal...?
What do you think? Do I just have a faulty unit or what?