Diminished Battery Life with iOS 4 Explained

by Anthony Magnabosco on December 29, 2010

The grim reality of owning a device equipped with a lithium-ion battery is that the battery will lose ¬†its ability to hold a charge as it ages. This means that your Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod’s battery life will eventually diminish to a point where use of the device will be inhibited by the length of time the battery will hold a charge. So, when that time comes, what can you do? buy a new device? No! you can have the battery replaced by¬†one of our¬†expert technicians and have peace of mind knowing that if your Milliamp.com battery loses its ability to hold a charge, you’re protected by¬†our 10 Year Battery Guarantee!¬†As the Operations Manager at Milliamp.com, I make it my¬†mission to ensure that we offer the best services possible, and that starts with using only the highest quality parts and¬†maintaining methods of repair that are the industry standard. One of our most popular services is our 2nd and 3rd generation iPod touch battery replacement. These generations of iPod touch are beginning to experience diminished battery life, so we see A LOT of these devices come through our shop every day.

Back in June, Apple delivered to us their newest, shiniest, and most powerful software to date¬†for the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad, and they called it iOS 4. iOS 4 has proven itself to be one of the more contentious software releases Apple has ever seen, iPods and iPhones were experiencing very strange problems immediately following the software update. Issues with iOS 4 ranged from diminished battery life to error messages that left devices “bricked,” we even happened upon and¬†addressed an iPhone 3GS battery incompatibility issue within days of the software’s release. Since June, there have been several updates to the OS meant to repair certain bugs and improve the speed at which a device¬†processes the software, but even now, with 4.2.1 (the most recent update), there are still issues with iPods and iPhones¬†loaded with iOS 4; specifically, battery life with the 2nd and 3rd generation iPod touch. Since the launch of iOS 4, the Apple discussion forum has been abuzz with customer concerns of this nature, resulting in a battery life thread that exceeds 120 pages of iPod owners voicing their concern¬†surrounding the diminished battery life their devices encountered with the iOS 4 update.

Since the iOS update, we have¬†replaced hundreds upon hundreds of batteries in the 2nd and 3rd generation iPod touch and have in turn seen a marked increase to the percentage of these devices that return to our shop with claims that our batteries’ performance was very similar to¬†customers’ original Apple battery. As these returns became more frequent, we leapt into action and began to search for a solution, we knew the reputation of our services would depend on our success. We contacted our suppliers and demanded that the batteries be better tested before being shipped, we revised the process by which we installed the batteries, we began testing the newly installed batteries for even longer, and we even began reading and writing a battery’s voltage on the battery so that we could refer to it in the event that the device was returned for diminished battery life!¬†When all of these¬†preventative measures made little difference in the¬†percentage of returned iPods, we began to perform experiments on returned devices¬†in hopes we would uncover the source of these battery issues without having to install another battery. We found that¬†the vast majority of returned iPods would test out perfectly well.¬†So,¬†what could be the explanation for¬†an¬†increase in returned devices and ¬†the discrepancy ¬†between our testing results and our¬†customers’ experience with their iPods? As it turns out, iOS 4 was the culprit all along.

As our research and experimentation came together¬†and as iOS 4 became more popular and more people upgraded their software, more devices were being returned, and the overarching constant in nearly all cases was the installation of some version of iOS 4.This¬†discovery begged the question,¬†how could there be such a discrepancy between our battery test results and our customers’ experience with their iPods? The answer to that question gradually revealed itself to us when we examined the way in which we test newly installed iPod batteries. Typically, we fully charge a device‚Äôs battery with a wall charger and then begin a four hour “playdown” in which we play the device’s music with the screen locked; all other functions are turned off. The most common story we heard from our customers was that they would leave their fully charged iPod in sleep mode overnight, only to find that in the morning, the battery was either dead or nearly dead. The realization of why this specific¬†experience was so prevalent and widespread was quite shocking; a device loaded with any version of iOS 4 left in sleep mode with wi-fi, bluetooth, location services, and/or push notifications turned on will never actually enter sleep mode!¬†Only the device’s screen will be locked, giving the impression that the device has entered sleep mode, but¬†actually, under the hood, the device’s battery is ¬†quickly dwindling away¬†because¬†the device’s¬†most notoriously power hungry features are still completely active.¬†¬†While we were glad to find out that our methods and batteries are perfectly good and reliable, it was¬†infuriating to learn that iOS 4, unlike its predecessor, was created to have “persistent wi-fi,”¬† meaning that if wi-fi functions aren’t manually turned off, the device won’t enter sleep mode. So, while Apple advertises outstanding battery performance, they never advertise the conditions under which they attain these remarkable results; clearly, they aren’t anywhere near realistic conditions of use! While Apple does offer suggestions on how to improve battery life, they’re buried deep in the Apple website and don’t address the real battery issue, their software. So, to sum up, whether you have or have not replaced the battery in your 2nd or 3rd generation iPod touch, if you have upgraded the software to any version of iOS 4 and¬†your device’s battery life is less than ideal, you should consider turning off all of the device’s power hungry features when the device is not in use; you can do so by simply engaging “Airplane Mode,” this feature turns off all wi-fi related functions.¬†If after trying this approach, you are still experiencing diminished battery life, you can be confident in a decision to send your iPod touch to us to have the battery replaced, because regardless of¬†power hungry features, a¬†1-2 year old device will still have lost some of its ability to hold a charge,¬†and a brand new Milliamp.com battery will be a vast improvement from the original.

Have you had a similar experience with an iOS 4 loaded iPod touch? Let us know about it! Tell your story in a comment!

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