Chris Spooner

06 Aug

Out of all the little gripes there are about the iPhone, I’d heard the battery life was one of them, but I didn’t realise the life of my 3GS would be SO short?! Granted, it’s my newest toy so I’ve been playing with all the features quite a lot, and it’s quite understandable that the battery is going to run down quicker when in full on gaming or web-surfing mode, but today I ran a little experiment that is seriously making me wonder whether my phone is actually faulty…

iPhone Battery

The Experiment

I completely run the phone down flat overnight, then connected it to the wall charger this morning and proceeded to charge it to 100%.

I then configured some settings:

Wifi – Off (Sometimes turn this off if I’m out)
Location Services – Off (Usually off anyway)
3G – Off (Usually left on)

It’s also worth noting I have email fetching to Off and I didn’t receive a call or SMS during the experiment (because I have no friends… booohoo)

I clicked the top button and sent it to sleep, left it in place on the desk and went off for some lunch. An hour later (well, just over at 73mins) I returned and checked the battery level – 84%
WTF?! An hour and 15mins of being in sleep mode, with none of its features being used and it’s used 16% of the battery life.

Obviously this isn’t the most scientific experiment, and I could do with repeating it a few times to double check the facts, but it got me wondering whether this is normal for iPhone battery life? Does everyone else out there have to charge their iPhone every day? (That’s with turning it off at night)

Or, could this just be down to it being new, and it needing a few charge cycles to ‘bed in’ the battery?


Maybe my iPhone read this post, but since the experiment it’s actually been acting really well battery wise. The next charge lasted much longer, sticking to 100% in the same length of time. I’ve now switched back on all the fancy features, including Location Services, which is meant to be the real power hog. Hours after a charge it’s still at 100%, and is lasting around the couple of days mark people have mentioned in the comments.

Bedding in the battery with a few charges during it’s early use might just have been what it needed?


  1. I can’t imagine that the 3GS went backward, but my 3G will go a couple to a few days in sleep mode with features turned off and not checking e-mail/Twitter.

    Normal usage, though: charge every night, lest be left with no battery while tooling around town the next day.

  2. Luis Lopez says:

    That’s one of the problem of the iphone I think, the battery is not the best, and normally even if you are not using it, nor receiving calls, nothing if the cellphone is not completely off, is gonna use the network to show where it is, in case some one call or emergency.
    so it doesn’t matter if nothing is on, is gonna use some good part of the battery cause of the CPU intern, work all the time since is not totally off

  3. on my 3G I can get a day of usage out of it with all the bells & whistles switched on.

    With all the options you mentioned switched off I would expect not to even see the battery indicator move after 73mins.

    I take it you’re in a good signal area? it can really sap the batter if you’re in a poor/dropping signal area.

  4. I just got a 3GS last Saturday, and my battery runs fast too. I haven’t done any testing like you, but I know it goes down pretty fast even in idle.

    I too have been playing a lot, installing apps and browsing, and sometimes I had to charge again by the evening.

  5. David says:

    Very strange… Thought the 3G(S)s battery is a bag of hurt, of course, normally it isn’t THAT bad. Did you also disable Push Notifactions? This is probably the most battery-intensive process.

  6. Vasili says:

    I usually charge my iPod daily/every other day because I use it SO MUCH. It’s main function when I’m just around the house is to get emails for me.

    I did notice that my iPod ran out of battery power pretty quick for the first week, but now it can last 2-3 days depending on how much I use it.

  7. al says:

    Hardly surprising for apple to make a product with a non user replaceable battery and then insert a lame effort at a battery.

    It just gets the money of you in the end to replace the battery

  8. Simon says:

    I’ve the iPhone 3g, pretty much with all your mentioned settings also turned off and the battery needs a charging pretty much through the day (and what’s with the quick charge?). However, went on holiday, pretty much never used and left in the safe, only to check if had received any texts (thanks mum) and I managed to squeeze about 4-5 days before charging. I guess with car charger and standard, i’m kinda used to plugging in when I can.

  9. Tyler G says:


    I have had my iPhone 3G since launch day, and I have been charging it nightly for as long as I can remember. I work it during the day checking Tweetie, Mail,, as well as lots of SMS and about 1-2 hrs of iPod use.

    The sudden drop in battery life would be something I wouldn’t worry about – personally I find that my phone’s battery tends to hover around the 3/4 full range the longest than any other.

  10. Matt Ashwood says:

    From what I’ve heard the battery life on the 3GS is actually worse than the 3G, even though they had stated it would be far better.

    I only charge my iphone 3G in the car, to and from work, about 20 minutes each way.

    I could go a couple days without charging it, and using it for phone, texts, e-mails, and some web surfing, with everything turned on

    Maybe I just got lucky with a super awesome one?

    It’s probably because I got the white back though, like you should have :)

  11. Push Notifications. Download an app that has them. Enable them. Disable them. Reboot.

  12. Botnary says:

    Lol :D my friend have an iPhone 3GS and he charge it every day :)) and i have an iPhone 2G and charge it one time at 3-4 days :) but in standby he can stay one week !! and soon i don’t want change my 2G iPhone because it’s perfect for my needs and battery life is acceptable :P

  13. JohnONolan says:

    When I saw the tweet to this link I was expecting to come on and say “yes that’s normal, welcome to the club” – but actually, that sounds pretty obscene, I’d take it into an apple store and get it checked out!

  14. Celo says:

    That’s kind of odd to have that much loss in just standby. I just checked my 3GS and I have 1 Day, 1 Hour of Standby and 3 Hours, 27 Minutes of use. Battery at 24%. That’s including about 30 minutes of talk time, 15 of those minutes over bluetooth, WiFi always on, Location Services on, Push on and Email Fetch every hour, and a couple hours of Lemonade Tycoon/Prison Tycoon.

  15. Heather says:

    I have that same problem with my Google G1 Android phone.

  16. Thanks for the comments everyone. I might stop by at the Apple store just to check it out.

    Reception is 100%, and with it being left in one spot I can’t imagine it changing signal too much.

    Push Notifications weren’t turned off as such, but they’re only active for the AreMySitesUp app – My servers didn’t go down so there weren’t any notifications, does this count? :-)

    The actual usage stats in Settings don’t seem too bad, I’ll have to keep an eye on it when I come to charge again.

  17. iAn says:

    I can’t comment specifically on the iPhone, but with my last couple of smart phones including my latest (G1 w/ Android), it takes a period of a couple of weeks to “condition” the battery.

    Let your phone run down completely until it powers off itself. Then try and turn it back on a couple of times. Once it’s completely and utterly dead, the stick it on the charger until it’s 100%.

    When I first got my G1, it was lucky to last 12 hours. Half of a dozen of these cycles over a couple of weeks cured it: I typically get 2 days or 3 of charge (wifi & 3g on with email and twitter, gps off, 25% brightness, half hour of calls over the 2 days).

  18. Keith says:

    That does seem short. Isn’t the 3GS supposed to have better battery life than previous versions?

    I use a 1st gen, and I often drain the whole thing in a day of heavy use, but can get two or sometimes even three days if its mostly in standby (left on through the night).

  19. Giles says:

    Hi Chris,

    I had this same problem when i first got mine. Do you have MobileMe?

    I found out it was a bug with mobileme/push notifications. If you remove your mobileme account + any other email accounts from the phone making sure to remove all synced contacts etc then reboot and put them back in there that fixed it for me.

    Hope that helps mate.


  20. Lj says:

    I have a iPhone 3gs and my phone seemed like it was about as bad as yours but the longer I had it the better the battery gets. Maybe you just gotta break it in more?

  21. McBonio says:

    I charge mine every 2/3 days, I take calls, send and receive texts, do a little tweetdeck and FB and most nights do a 30min stint on Fuzzle.

    The times its not in use its in standby, I think you should get it checked mate :)

  22. Ryandc says:

    Recently been in Spain for a week, and my 3GS battery has been seriously screwed up. It’s at 89%, half hr later on sleep its 24%. 5 mins later 90%?!? then a few hrs later it plumets to 16%. Probably just due to the heat, but still defintly not acceptable …

  23. Lee Gustin says:

    I don’t have a 3GS, but I do have a 3G…and I’ll assume the S has better battery life. I could play a battery-heavy game for over an hour, and the battery won’t be to below 84% (like yours), so there must be something wrong. Like most everybody is saying, take it to the Apple doctors.

  24. Graphic Gorilla says:

    I’ve got a first generation and since Iphone os 2.2 It lasts longer. It would turn itself into ‘charge now’-mode if it hit 60% Which was every other day. Now I can go to 15%. It survives for days (even a week occasionally) even though I use it as an ipod a lot. I have been meaning to switch to 3Gs, but untill I hear something good about the batteries and the gps-signal I’m staying where I’m happy.

    But hey, it’s a great phone!

  25. How about this? I again ran it down to flat, and charged to 100%. This time I left it from 13:27 to 14:27 with WiFi and 3G on, AND sent/received about 5 messages – So a little usage in between.

    Battery level still at 100%. Hmm, quite a stark difference to yesterday’s test!

  26. Giles says:

    Maybe Apple don’t like it if your ‘not’ using it Chris!

  27. Iain Broome says:

    I’ve found mine to be very hit and miss, although it’s a 3G not the latest one. Often there seems to be no correlation between how much I’ve used it and how much battery is left. I think it’s one of those things you have to put up with, unfortunately.

    Still, Monkey Island for iPhone is out now, so it’s not all bad.


    Just found this, didn’t really read it through, don’t have an iPhone, just saw on your blog your battery wasn’t doin too well.

  29. tiffany says:

    I have the TMobile MyTouch phone and when I leave for work in the morning it’s fully charged. On my drive home my battery is often dead already. It’s pathetic really. I have the GPS off, wifi on and 3g on. Don’t use it to talk during the day and at most use it for radio for 30 min. Sure it will be fixed in the next generation that I’ll be too bitter to buy.

  30. Alex Rogahn says:

    Im having much the same problems as chris with my new iphone 3GS.ive only had it for 2 and a bit days and the battery life is shockingly bad! I started today with 100% its 16:31 now and its got 52%, since i started writing this comment it has dropped by 2%, chances are my phone will switch off at about 20:30. I bloody well hope this isnt normal…

  31. jp says:

    i have the worst problem with my iphone 3gs¡¡ the battery only stands 8 hours in standby. What can i do, should i wait to a new uptated???

  32. gun says:

    this isnt a comment about the battery. i just wanted to inform some of you that i recently jailbroke my phone and now its dead lol i wouldnt advice it to people to download the programme called installous as its written by a dodgy programmer and ended up loosing my phone over an update. i will still try and claim the warranty but will probably get refused..

  33. Jom says:

    Recently heard that a PhD student manages to increase iPhone battery life by 12x. More:

  34. Sandman says:

    That is the only issue I have with my iPhone as well. Battery life!! I charge it up whenever I can but does anyone know if this will hurt the battery life. I know in the past, we were always told not to recharge things until they were used up or there would be a memory effect. Is this true with the iPhone batteries?

  35. Kevin says:

    Like many of you, I had my new 3GS iPhone replaced.. the battery still runs flat so quickly.. I had also noticed that the phone is also getting warmer.. this is really bad.. any solutiuons?

  36. Nikola SRB says:

    When i charge mine, over night in standby mode,it droped 2% after about 15 h. i have 3gs 3.1.3,but this is serious standbuy :)

  37. mike says:

    My 3gs lasts about a day usually if I’m not using it much, only have phone and wifi on, no data, no apps. I thought the battery was u/s but on going to Europe it recovers and lasts a week! Have done this 3 times now with same result – as soon as back in UK battery life back to a day again! Any ideas anyone?

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