Tech Columnist LANCE ULANOFF says that the iPhone battery problem is more widespread than I realized — or Apple is willing to admit.
I understand alternate facts. Sometimes my iPhone’s battery meter delivers them.
Fact: I have a 18-month-old Apple iPhone 6. I keep it in god shape, never dropping it, subjecting it to extreme temperatures, or dunking it in bodies of water. I charge it regularly.
ON A RECENT WEEKDAY AFTERNOON
Fact: On a recent weekday afternoon, I picked up my iPhone, which had been sitting on my desk untouched for hours, and noticed it was reporting just 18% battery life. It was officially in the red. I quickly plugged it into a charger and, a moment later, the rating was 43%.
I think that initial battery meter reading may have been an alternate fact and this iPhone battery problem is more widespread than I realized — or Apple is willing to admit.
I WOULD BEEN HEARING BIZARRE IPHONE BATTERY
For months, I’d been hearing bizarre iPhone battery tales from friends, co-workers and family members. Last year, Apple beat back reports in China and the U.S. before finally admitting that some iPhone 6S device batteries were faulty.
This iPhone battery problem is more widespread than I realized — or Apple is willing to admit.
The problem is that these bizarre battery issues extend back to the still-in-use iPhone 5S and through to the iPhone 6S (but not, as far as I can tell, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, at least not yet). They include battery-percentage free falls, where you can watch your battery life drain from, say, 30% to zero in the space of a few minutes or suddenly shut down with 20-30% battery life remaining. There’s also the perplexing sudden supercharge, like I described at the outset: The battery demands to be charged only to show hearty available battery life as soon as you plug it in.
MANY COMPLAINED TO ME ABOUT BIZARRE BATTERY HICCUPS
Even though many people complained to me about bizarre battery hiccups, I was unconvinced until I experienced virtually every one of them myself.
Apple has a lot of advice for managing iPhone battery life and I followed as much of it as possible:
- I made sure my iOS was up-to-date.
- I took a good look at which background apps were eating battery life, especially those with a lot of background refresh activity, and tried, where possible, to curb their use (Mail and Instagram were often near the top of the list for me).
- I used Low Power Mode.
- I even followed the advice I found on other sites and recalibrated the battery, letting it run down to zero to and then did a reboot holding the home and power button.
None of these actions, however, prevented the battery life miscalculations from happening again.
And they’re not helping others who have experienced the same bizarre battery life percentage issues.
On the ground
I already knew my own wife had watched her iPhone 5S shut down at 20% and 30%. I started asking friends and co-workers about their experiences. Pretty much anyone I mentioned iPhone battery issues knew what I was talking about or had an experience to share.
While taking an Uber with two co-workers a few weeks ago, I quizzed them about their iPhone batteries (on their iPhone 6 and 6S devices). Both reported unexpected shutdowns at 20%. Then our driver piped up and said he’d has similar issues to the ones I described, even though he only had his phone for a year.
Apple Support forums are full of similar complaints. Going back to the iPhone 5S and iOS 7.1, users recounted rapid battery drains. Those complaints persisted through the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, with some users also complaining that the phone got very hot.
Apple won’t comment about what’s going on with the iPhone’s rechargeable lithium-ion batteries or the iOS software that manages them, and it hasn’t acknowledged any issue beyond unexpected shutdowns on some iPhones.
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