BlackBerry PlayBook battery life weakened by OS update

Earlier this month, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) released a significant OS update for its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet that enabled a new PlayBook video chat application, as well as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) functionality via RIM's BlackBerry Bridge application. But the OS update seems to have had an unintended effect on

Many PlayBook users, myself included, are experiencing notably decreased tablet-battery life after installing BlackBerry Tablet OS v 1.0.3.1868, which was initially released during the first week of May at RIM's annual BlackBerry World Conference in Orlando. RIM released an advisory on the subject shortly thereafter, suggesting that PlayBook users who experience weakened battery life after the OS upgrade simply discharge their batteries completely and then fully recharge them again a few times--a process known as "cycling" a battery.

From RIM:

"After upgrading the BlackBerry PlayBook Software to 1.0.3 then restarting the BlackBerry PlayBook, the battery drains faster than normal or the battery level fluctuates irregularly...The BlackBerry PlayBook battery can be retrained by fully discharging and fully recharging the battery a few times."

RIM suggested in the advisory that the PlayBook battery issues could be a result of a Video Chat licensing agreement prompt that may be draining power until a user accepts the licensing terms. So accepting those video chat terms could resolve some battery life problems, RIM says, though I accepted the terms immediately after installing the latest OS update, and my PlayBook battery issues don't appear to be related to the video chat agreement. (I guess users who do not wish to accept those terms are stuck with decreased battery life for the time being.)

I also cycled my PlayBook battery a number of times since, with no notable improvement in battery life. More specifically, I used to easily get 9 hours or more of PlayBook battery life with moderate to heavy use before I updated the Tablet OS to v1.0.3.1868. But this week my PlayBook died twice in a row in less than eight hours, after being fully charged at the start of the day.

After doing some investigating on the subject and speaking with a few respected colleagues from BlackBerry fan site CrackBerry.com (thanks @obigeorge and @azeis), I learned that many PlayBook users are reporting decreased PlayBook battery life after the OS update. But some PlayBook users with higher tablet-storage capacity mysteriously seem to get much more battery life on a single charge than 16GB PlayBook tablet owners. (The PlayBook is currently available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, and all three PlayBooks pack the same 5300mAh battery.)

I'm unsure why this might happen, but RIM did mention in its advisory that "changes have been made to battery parameters" within the latest Tablet OS update, so perhaps those parameters somehow differ based on PlayBook storage. Hopefully the next BlackBerry Tablet OS update, which is rumored to be coming soon, will resolve the issues.

In related news, RIM recently issued a recall of roughly 1,000 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook tablets, due to a bum OS build. The number of PlayBooks recalled is only a fraction of the estimated 250,000 PlayBook tablets RIM has sold to date.

For more information on recently reported PlayBook tablet battery issues, visit RIM's BlackBerry Technical Solution Center.

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