Wednesday Grok: No juice in your sparkling iPhone 4S

Blame calendars, time zones and permanent pinging

Batteries are boring...until they stop working, then they are very, very boring. Right now, the most boring battery in the world is the one in Apple's new iPhone 4S. Where's our talk time? Where's all that tasty standby time?

It's getting to the point where a lazy blogger can't get through a night without their Sleep Cycle app lapsing into the land of Nod at about the five hour mark.

Last quarter, Apple got its backside royally smacked by Samsung in the smartphone market. The iPhone 4S would normally be expected to reverse that through the natural swing of the product cycle. But not when the device flips from design genius to expensive, over engineered paperweight in less than 60 minutes (Go on, load Tweetdeck, we dare you).

The press and the bloggers are having a field day, unlike the customers who can't call home to check if they need to pick up a carton of milk, or some bread, or maybe a brand new Samsung smartphone with a battery that works.

To put it bluntly, according to <i>Techcrunch</i>, the iPhone 4S battery life sucks. “It’s been 17 days since the iPhone 4S was released — 19 since iOS 5 — and just like the madness that was Antennagate, complaints are churning out left and right. As Erick so clearly pointed out, the iPhone 4S is meant to offer 8 hours of talk time, or ‘up to 6 hours’ of Internet use on 3G. For so many of us — including iPod touch and iPhone-not-4Ses running iOS 5 — that simply isn’t the case.”

Though, help may be on the way, according to the story. Two bugs in particular seem to be draining the mojo from the handset — a calendar bug and a time zone bug, both of which, will presumably get sorted soon enough. Woah, Grok just had a really powerful déjà vu — is anyone else channeling Microsoft right now?

But the article cautions that the location services facility is the real deal breaker. It turns out, all kinds of apps are calling on the location services functionality meaning your handset is pinging away like a madman for no worthwhile reason. The article gives some step-by-step tips which may improve things a little.

<i>Mashable</i> also weighs in. While also pinpointing the time zone as an issue, the social media specialist quotes Oliver Haslam at <i>iDownloadBlog</i>, suggesting the problem is not with the iPhone 4S as such but with IOS 5. This means no leave pass for users on the iPhone 4 or even the iPhone 3GS (like your humble Grok whose iPhone is now so completely fracked that he can actually watch the green bar shrink in real time. Thank you Facebook app).

Locally, the SMH's Asher Moses extracted this concession from an anonymous Apple Store employee, “One Australian Apple store employee and app developer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that, while doing nothing with the phone, its battery life was dropping 10 per cent an hour even with non important location settings, Siri, Bluetooth and other features switched off. With normal use, it dropped 19 per cent in 50 minutes and sometimes the battery dropped away at an even faster rate than that.”

Customers are bad, but lawyers are worse

Apple's problems with mobile devices aren't confined to the shop floor of course. There's also litigation on a truly global scale, much of which it initiated and pretty much all of it currently aimed squarely at Samsung. As Grok mentioned on Monday, Samsung is currently kicking Apple's shiny metal butt at the cash register.

According to the <i>Australian Financial Review</i>, the patent battle between the two companies raises questions about whether the legal process is sufficiently efficient to deal with disputes involving technology. This is especially so when the technology takes so long to build, but garners only a very short time in the sunshine to make with the crazy.

Or as the AFR puts it, “the interlocutory injunction banning local sales [of Samsung's Galaxy tab] could condemn it to the bargain bin before the final hearing into patent infringement takes place next year.” Such a terrible outcome for Samsung if it turns out they have done nothing wrong. In this case, you might conclude that the law has abetted a vexatious litigant in its attempts to stifle genuine competition to the detriment of consumers. This is all well and good, unless the courts ultimately rule in Apple’s favor, in which case you might conclude that Samsung extracted value from the market by illegally copying a rival's design, compromising Apple’s capacity to channel its profits into further R&D to the ultimate benefit of consumers. It depends on your perspective, really. The lawyers get rich either way.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO is Silicon Gully Investments. Email him at andrew.birmingham2010@me.com or Follow him on Twitter @ag_birmingham. Or call him on his iPhone...oh wait, don't bother....

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Tags smartphonessmartphonesamsungapple iphoneiPhone battery lifeiPhone 4S

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