Does the iPhone 4S have a battery-life problem?

Owners take to Apple support thread to complain, document usage stats, offers suggestions

There's nothing worse than buying an electronic device you've been looking forward to owning, and then finding out there's a major performance issue.

Actually, there's one thing worse: When you can't figure out the cause of the performance problem.

That seems to be the case regarding Apple's iPhone 4S and its battery life. Over at Computerworld, Gregg Keizer on Monday blogged about an ongoing discussion in Apple's support forum started on Oct. 15 by an iPhone 4S owner called "Scarface" who wrote:

My iPhone 4s battery seems terrible! Almost equivalent to my 3GS and it's terrible battery life. When I got my iPhone yesterday and restored from backup I noticed nothing really changed with minimal usage and standby! Is this normal or should I consider setting it up as a new phone because maybe something is running in the background that's causing it to drop a percentage every few minutes under light usage? Input would be great!

I'm tempted to think the battery might be straining under Scarface's prodigious use of exclamation points, but that's probably not the real problem.

It's also not a problem exclusive to our frustrated friend. Many, many other iPhone 4S owners weighed into the "iPhone 4S Battery Life?" thread with similar tales of battery-drained woe. Most tell pretty much the same story: The smartphone's battery drains quickly, even when the user isn't going crazy with the device. From mrbofus:

In the 29 minutes since I last posted, I wrote one email, played one word in Words with Friends, one word in Hanging with Friends, read a few news articles in USA Today, and read some posts in Engadget. All on wifi, not 3G. My battery has gone from 89% to 77%. Dropping 12% every half hour means the phone will barely last over 4 hours of light usage, and that's not even making any calls!

Theories abound on the thread regarding the source of the accelerated battery drain, including wireless sync, diagnostics & usage settings, Siri's "raise to speak" feature, Photo Stream, and subterfuge by Google. (Kidding on that last one.)

Of course, with nearly 2,500 replies in the thread, there's going to be multiple and conflicting theories. Apple, which estimates the battery in 4S should give users eight hours of talk time and six hours on the Internet, has been quiet about the problem.

However, TimothyW, in a comment posted in the thread last Friday, thinks he may have found the solution:

The issue is in Notification Center. For some reason, I had hundreds of calendar reminders that kept refreshing on notification center. Furthermore, the reminders would flicker between the time remaining and the start time for the event at such a fast rate that it could not be read... (clearly a bug)

What is the solution? Go to Settings>Notifications>Calendar and disable Notification Center. You can still have the "alert style" set to Banners, or Alerts and you will still receive notices about your events, but it will not BUILD a summary in the Notification Center drop down screen. This is where the BUG exists.

So, it appears that Notification Center has an endless loop in collecting the calendar events from Exchange and this is burning up our 4S batteries. Once you stop the madness from Notification Center, your iPhone 4S will perform as advertised.

This suggestion has been met with a mixture of "I don't know, man" and "it worked!"

But until we hear some official word from Apple about the source of the problem (and let's assume it's not "whiny, complaining customers") and a solution, we can only speculate.

If any iPhone 4S owners can shed some light on the issue, feel free to comment (or complain) below.

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