The iPhone iOS4's battery bummer: The power 'vampire'

Following the release of iOS4, many iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch users are reporting a significant impact to battery life.

Users who upgraded to iOS4 are complaining their iPhone and iPod Touch batteries are mysteriously being sucked dry in record time. iOS4's new multitasking feature--a much sought after feature by business users who see the added functionality as a way to stay productive with their iPhone--is getting the initial blame. Whatever the cause, following the upgrade to iOS4, many users are complaining that battery life has been cut in half--or worse--inciting many to dub iOS4 a power "vampire".

One of the most highly demanded and anxiously anticipated features of iOS4 is for business professionals is multitasking. The Apple approach to multitasking is limited, but it still enables apps written to play by Apple's multitasking rules to continue running certain features and functions in the background--which could impact battery life.

A reader e-mailed me to express concern over the impact of iOS4 on his iPod Touch. "I have a relatively new iPod Touch (March 2010, 3rd Gen) and [iOS4] ate my battery while sitting on my coffee table overnight. It was turned off with no music playing!"

The reader also relayed anecdotal evidence that others are experiencing similar problems. "I was out and about during the weekend and overheard a few conversations regarding the issue. One guy was feverishly looking for a way to recharge his unit as he was at work and couldn't get home to remedy the vampire."

Perusing the Apple tech support forums, it seems that many users are concerned about the impact iOS4 has had on the battery life of devices that apparently worked just fine prior to upgrading the OS. It isn't clear, though, whether multitasking is at fault, or if the battery drain is a result of certain, poorly-written apps gobbling up power.

The thread begins with this user post "I just downloaded iOS4 on my 3GS., has my battery life shrunk over the past two hours. I'll admit I haven't had the OS for that long so I don't know how much it's the actual factor, but I've been trying new features and whatnot (minus multitasking much) and it's just sucking away at my battery."

A comment further down the thread states "I called Apple Support and they suggested a full restore. My 3GS was losing around 1% of battery every 2 minutes. There were no apps (other than the phone) that were being multitasked. My 3GS was also running abnormally warm whenever I did in fact multitask. Apple Support told me that these symptoms were "probably normal" but if I wanted I could try a full restore to see if that helped. Knowing that these problems did not exist before iOS4, I decided to try the restore."

And, one more Apple tech support forums user comment explains "Yes, it does burn battery a lot faster in my case. I had it fully charged. I used it for 56 min, basically going through each app to make sure they all work, and I am now down to 60%. At this rate, it will only last 2 1/2 hours!"

There are a variety of speculative theories behind the reported battery issues. Whether it's the multitasking, the wallpaper feature, a flaw in how the OS itself manages or reports battery life, or specific rogue apps that don't play nice with iOS4, the battery drain issue seems to be a very real problem for many business professionals who are used to being able to use an iPhone 3GS on the road all day long on a single charge.

Maybe if the rumors of an iOS 4.0.1 quick-fix for the iPhone 4 antenna reception issue are true, Apple can include a fix to resolve the battery drain issue, or some sort of resolution that will prevent rogue apps from killing the iPhone battery.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page, or contact him by email at He also tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphonesAppleiPhonePhonesconsumer electronicsiphone 4Cell Phones

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?