The Battery Life Debate

It seems the new hot topic concerning the iPhone is it's battery life. Something Apple was once praised for but now people are changing that opinion. There is a lot of back and forth with people hunkering down on both sides so I wanted to bring a more pragmatic view from an (exclusively) iPhone user's perspective.

We all have our own usage patterns. Apple designs their phones with certain goals in mind. They must balance all features and design against their downsides, the main one being the battery life. While I don't know for sure, I think their goal is to deliver a full day's usage for most users. Some will have more and some less. All the anecdotes on this site aside (mine included) if they didn't at least give the average user a day of charge, it would be a significant satisfaction problem which would hurt their top satisfaction ratings.

Here's is my point of view. I regularly get at least a day sometimes two with low to moderate (subjective I know) usage on mainly wifi. But, here is my admission. iPhone battery life is truly not good enough. It's not about comparing them to large phones with larger batteries. It's simply about user experience.

This point was driven home to me this 4th of July. I spent a great day seeing the Cubs play the Nationals and watching fireworks in DC. I was going to use my phone for directions and photos mainly, occasionally uploading some of them. However, I still like to surf and use other apps like I usually do each day. The problem was I knew from past experience that in highly crowded areas while using data regularly my battery life wouldn't last more then 4-6 hours. To compensate I switched to 3G and killed all apps using background processes that I wasn't using. Later in the day I even switched to airplane mode. I was able to make it to the end with around 10%.

Here's the point. People are using their phones more each day. They are using more data each day. Networks are getting more overloaded (low signal is huge a battery killer). These trends will continue and in many places already cause problems. So if my assumption is correct and Apple wants to give people a day of usage, then they need to consider these usage changes.

What I want is simply this. Not to worry about my battery life each day regardless of my usage. Obviously there is some limit but I'm not asking to play 3D games for 12 hours straight. I would like at least 2-3 days of regular usage or 1 full day of heavy usage in less then ideal circumstances. I don't want to fiddle with settings to optimize life or change my usage pattern like I mentioned. If this means not making the phone thinner for a generation (or a slight increase like the iPad 3) then that is fine, I think people would accept that at this point. What I don't want is to have to buy a 5.5" phone to get it.

This is well within their ability. With a slightly large phone, a less power hungry chip, co-processors and more efficient back lighting it should be easy to achieve. If their choice to go thinner means keeping battery life the same I will be truly mad.