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iOS 5.1: Did it Help Battery Life or Not?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Flickr

Last week, Apple released iOS 5.1 alongside the announcement of “The new iPad”. Apple’s release of iOS 5.1 came as a much welcomed and to some, a much needed update to the iPhone. With reports of horrendous battery life since the debut of iOS 5, disgruntled customers were looking for every fix in the book.

Those such as myself were left without any answers from Apple. Resorting to measures such as turning the location features off in some apps, attempting to increase the window of time my phone would fetch for emails, and turning off push notifications did not seem to alleviate the issue. I found myself frustrated and annoyed at times.

I had originally bought my iPhone 4 in June of last year because the six hour battery life on my original DROID just was not cutting it for me anymore. Switching to the world of iOS, I knew I could count on getting much better battery life and a more polished user interface with higher quality apps. I certainly was not disappointed and I found iOS 4 (as it was at the time) to be very user friendly and intuitive. Being able to take my iPhone off the charger at 8AM and still having juice left in the tank at 10PM was something I grew to love. Mind you, I do not consider myself a “light user”; constantly checking Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, reading tech news on the go and so much more. My original DROID just could not manage power efficiently and it was as if the charger needed to go with me anywhere I went.

My love affair with the iPhone’s battery life was hampered upon the release of iOS 5. Of course, who doesn’t like all the new features Apple brought to the table? Everything from the Notification Center (something I missed being a former Android user) to iMessage was welcomed. iOS 5 added a new angle of simplicity to the already incredible iOS ecosystem. Here, approximately five months since iOS 5 debuted, I have a hard time believing there was once an iPhone without these intuitive features. As they say though, “Anything good comes with a price”. iOS 5 came at the cost of battery life, but does it have to be that way?

Fixes in iOS 5.1 include:

  • Japanese language support for Siri
  • Photos can now be deleted from Photo Stream
  • Camera shortcut now always visible on Lock Screen (iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, iPod Touch 4G)
  • Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces
  • Redesigned Camera app for iPad 2, iPad (new)
  • Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers
  • Audio for TV shows and movies on iPad optimized to sound louder and clearer
  • Podcast controls for playback speed and 30 second rewind for iPad
  • Updated AT&T network indicator
  • Addresses bugs affecting battery life
  • Fixes an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls

Seeing “Addresses bug affecting battery life” in the list made my eyes glow. Finally, Apple might have actually gotten it right this time, as opposed to the joke of a fix iOS 5.0.1 was.

Now, a week later, the update seems to have worked as promised… but not for all (more on that in a moment). My iPhone 4 is back to having the battery life I have come to expect from an Apple gadget. No more of this depleting at a rate of 3% every ten minutes. Unfortunately, iPhone 4S users have not been saying the same.

Two of my 4S wielding friends, both of whom updated to 5.1 the day it was released, have not seen any improvement. My one friend tells me that her 4S will not even fully charge anymore, stopping at 97% and upon taking it off the charger, it’s downhill from there. Normally, she takes her iPhone off the charger at 6:45AM. 9 out of 10 mornings, by 7:25AM, her 4S is at 85%. That is an incredible 15% drop in 40 minutes. This is AFTER she updated to iOS 5.1, mind you. Forget making it to 5PM. The only fix that seems to make it last is turning 3G off while the phone is not in use. This works, but what kind of smartphone has no 3G connectivity?

Hopefully Apple can find a way to contain the power hungry A5 chip found within the 4S before people start getting really upset.

Does your iPhone 4S have better or worse battery life since updating to iOS 5.1?

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