The Apple iPhone 4S was a hit before it ever saw store shelves, selling more than 1 million pre-orders and then racking up 4 million sales in its first official weekend on the market. But the noise is growing louder over reported battery issues on the new device.
As of Tuesday morning, there were 176 pages on an Apple Support Communities thread called "iPhone 4S Battery Life?" The complaints started on Oct. 15, in the middle of the historic launch, and new posts continue to appear in the thread. In all, more than 2,600 comments have flooded the boards, and new discussions have branched off from there.
"My iPhone 4S battery seems terrible! Almost equivalent to my 3GS and its terrible battery life," said an Apple forum poster from New Jersey who calls himself Scarface, in a post Oct. 15. "When I got my iPhone yesterday and restored from backup I noticed nothing really changed with minimal usage and standby!"
Apple Contacts Consumers
Although critics are making an issue of Apple's silence, The Guardian reports that Apple engineers are contacting some iPhone 4S owners to investigate the reported battery life problems. Apple has yet to offer an official comment.
The Guardian reported one user was contacted by a senior Apple engineer who said he read a post and was "reaching out" to users for data. The user said engineer admitted it was an issue and that a fix would be released, then asked questions about his usage and asked if he could install a file on his phone that would retrieve some information. However, The Guardian did not disclose the name of the person quoted.
Shorter battery life shouldn't come as a surprise to iPhone 4S owners -- at least not the ones who read the spec sheet for the new device. The iPhone battery life has declined since the original model was introduced in 2007. For example, the original iPhone offered 250 hours of standby battery life. The iPhone 4 offers 300 while the iPhone 4S only promises 200 hours.
Rush to Judgment?
Some people are comparing the battery issues -- and Apple's silence -- to the so-called Antennagate problem with the iPhone 4, when users discovered if they held the phone tightly the signal strength dropped precipitously. Apple did not weigh in on the matter for three weeks, and when it finally held a press conference it sought to downplay the problem.
But Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, cautions against making snap judgments based on anecdotal evidence.
"If you read through some of the support forums, it appears there are quite a few people who say their battery works fine. In fact, probably even the majority," Gartenberg said. "What we are seeing right now are a bunch of anecdotal stories that look like they are being blown out of proportion."
Gartenberg pointed out that people use their phones differently and that the iPhone 4S offers more capability than previous models, which can mean more power usage. Depending on how people are using the device, he said, they may experience better or worse battery life.
"Anything Apple-related tends to generate an undue amount of volume both good and bad," Gartenberg said. "It's not even clear if there is a problem, and if there is I am sure Apple will fix it. It's not unheard of for products to ship with bugs, and if there's a bug it will be fixed."