iPhone 5 and iOS 6 battery drain issues revisited

As I mentioned in my review of the iPhone 5, battery life was certainly a concern during the first several days of use. The battery drained at an alarming rate of 1% every 3-4 minutes with just basic web browsing (3G on, LTE off), and during the first 2 days, my phone would lose 20-30% overnight while on standby. With my iPhone 4, it would drain no more than 1 or 2% throughout the night. Not surprisingly, after searching online for similar cases, I soon found that many iPhone 5 users were also experiencing poor battery performance. Furthermore, those who upgraded to iOS 6 with their iPhone 3GS/4/4S were also finding that they weren’t getting nearly as much juice out of their phones. Not wanting to exchange my iPhone 5 a second time unless I really had to (i.e defective battery), I tried a number of “fixes” in hopes of rectifying the issue. Thankfully, they seem to be working and I’m starting to see some improvements.

Upon reading the many threads in the Apple support forums (aka Communities), one common suggestion that seemed to help many was restoring the iPhone to its factory setting via iTunes. Traditionally, upgrading iOS and restoring from an (old) backup was often the culprit for poor battery life. But seeing how I’d setup up my iPhone 5 from the start as a ‘new phone’ and not from a backup, I didn’t think it would matter much. Feeling rather desperate, I did a restore anyway (if you’re unsure how, check out Apple’s instructions here). At first it seemed as though the battery did improve, though shortly after, the rapid drainage soon returned. In fact, I only got about 6 hours of battery life with a full charge. This was with LTE off the entire time and splitting between 3G and Wifi for emails and mobile Safari. Definitely less than the 8-10 hours of usage according to Apple’s spec sheet.

Not satisfied, I went through all my settings and looked at what others online were suggesting that worked for them. That’s when I came across numerous users indicating that after draining their iPhone 5 completely and charging it back up to a 100% without disrupting the charge cycle (as in not using the phone), they found it made a significant difference. So this was exactly what I did Monday night and sure enough, I immediately noticed the improvement in battery life; I was no longer losing 1% every few minutes.

Leaving no stones unturned, I also tweaked a few things in Settings to see if I could prolong my battery’s run time even more. Here’s what I changed in particular:

  • Cellular Data –> Off if using Wifi
  • If Cell Data On, turn Passbook Updates –> Off
  • Siri –> Raise to Speak –> Off
  • Privacy –> Locations Services –> System Services –> On for only Compass Calibration and Traffic (the rest set to Off)
  • iCloud –> Passbook and Photo Stream –> Off

With the above changes and after its first full charge cycle, I was able to get about 9 hours and 24 minutes of usage before the phone shut off on its own (no LTE, mostly on Wifi, 20 mins of phone calls, an hour of listening to audiobooks, emails and web browsing). That’s nearly 3 hours better than it was the day before. It seems that calibrating the iPhone 5 battery from an almost empty tank to 100% does address these drainage issues. To be certain, the phone is going through its second full charge from 0% as I type this and hopefully I’ll be able to hit the 10 hour mark next.

If you’re having issues with your iPhone 5′s battery life, I suggest you let it run down completely and then do a full charge. To be on the safe side, while it’s charging don’t use the device. Top that with some of tweaks in the Settings area (feel free to try the above or play around with the different options to cater to your needs), and you should start to see a much more manageable drainage rate.

  • Kev

    Thanks. I will definitely try this as I too am finding the quick draining you experienced at about 1% every 3-4 minutes. I was ready to return this but will give your fix a shot. Thanks again!

  • Louis

    Hey Kev,

    How did it work out for you? Did you notice improved usage after draining/charging your battery at least once?

  • Mike

    I’ve found that conditioning my battery has helped with the draining, but it still falls short of battery life of my iphone 4. Quite tempted to go back to that phone in meantime until Apple can sort things out.

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