This Tip Could Cure Your iPhone 4S Battery

By , Oct 27, 2011

As someone who has been lucky enough to spend the last few months testing iOS 5 in various beta stages, it has to be said that the version we’re all currently enjoying has come a long way since the early days.

When Apple released the iOS 5 GM not that long ago, I instantly noticed that my iPhone 4′s battery life was lasting roughly half of what it was before. A coincidence, I thought. It’ll sort itself out, I presumed. After getting the iPhone 4S, the problem persisted. Twitter and forums on the web over lit up with similar problems, and a few fixes were suggested, mostly to no avail.

There may be light at the end of the tunnel. Switching one little toggle in iOS 5′s Settings app may hold the key to curing your iPhone 4S battery…

Head over to Settings, then Location Services, and finally System Services. Right at the bottom you’ll find a toggle switch for “Status Bar Icon.” Switch that on, and watch to see if your location icon pops up in the status bar. If it does, we might be on to something. If not, well, follow the rest of the guide just in case.

The second part of the test requires you to now switch off  ”Setting Time Zone.” Did the icon disappear? I’m betting it did, and if that’s the case, you’re in luck.

See, it appears that iOS 5′s GM release introduced a bug that causes the Setting Time Zone function to keep the location tracking circuitry running constantly, draining battery power considerably. Switching it off may mean that your iPhone will no longer set its own time zone when you travel, but that’s a small price to pay for having your iPhone last more than 12 hours on a full charge.

Leave the rest of the location settings on. There’s no need to cripple such essential functionality, and it appears that the Setting Time Zone option is the one that causes the hit on battery life.

We have tested this method on 4 different iPhone 4s handsets, including an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 3GS. All have reported drastically improved battery life after switching “Setting Time Zone” off.

Interestingly, there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to why some handsets seem to have the issue, with not all iOS 5 installations apparently causing the bug to manifest itself in the same way. As I said earlier, it’s still worth switching the setting off just in case, and we’ve had one or two reports of it making a considerable difference, regardless.

So what kind of difference are we talking about? The screenshots below, taken using my own iPhone 4S before and after the change, tell their own story.

We’ve had very similar stories from other people around the globe as well.

Special thanks must go to Jon Honeyball of PC Pro fame for the original idea that got all our testing underway.

Give this a try yourself and let us know the results. If this doesn’t work, you can always read our 10 ways to save battery life. As always, your mileage may vary.

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  • Andrey

    The Improvement is minimal… But ist works.

  • Jeffwatson22

    Traffic was the one hanging for me. I could even quit the maps app but if I had traffic turned on it would stay active in the status bar.

  • Benoit

    Battery drainage may also be due to using the new iOS5.0 geofencing reminders (a.k.a. reminder alerts triggered when arriving/leaving a specific location)…

    • iPwned3

      +1 I also have the same thing happen when using geofencing reminders.

  • AP

    mine won’t turn off…

  • Andrew

    Changing this setting did not entirely solve the problem. Probably because the time zone being stuck using the service was not persistent. It would get stuck for a while, but would eventually go away. Turning it off is definitely a good move until they fix it though. Basically, if it was constantly using the service for the time zone, the battery would be AWFUL, but turning it off made it go from AWFUL to just “bad” compared to ios 4 on my iphone 4. Upon updating to iOS 5, I noticed the arrow being on too much for the time zone and turned that setting off right away. But I’ve still had battery issues.

    I have the iphone 4 with ios 5 (not jailbroken) and even with this setting off (which it has been since I noticed the arrow in my status bar right away when I got ios 5) my battery life is literally about half of before. For every 1% that used to be gone, it’s now almost 2%. That is, for times where it would have been 70% remaining, (30% gone), it is now 40% remaining (double gone, 60%).

    Things I’ve tried:

    -Turning off location service for time zone and traffic
    -Turning off sync over wifi (from itunes)
    -Stopping syncing with icloud for anything (not contacts, calenders, any of that, OR backup)
    -Tried turning off wifi for a day with no effect

    What seemed to have an effect (still verifying) is turning off sync with wifi and turning off syncing with icloud. I don’t know which it was that did it, because I did both at the same time (but separate from the other changes) but it seems somewhat improved. So, I narrowed it down to those two having a pretty big effect. Today, without those changes, my battery right now would have been like 58%, but is, instead, 74% right now. Not quite where it used to be (probably would have been around 80-82% on iOS 4), but improved to within reason. For a while, with the sync to icloud, sync to wifi, and time zone setting on, I would struggle to get through a day without having to charge at some point, where as I used to be able to go 2 days on ios 4. The past 2 days with sync to wifi and icloud off, I can get through a day comfortably. Not two days I don’t think, but one day, even with higher than normal usage should be OK.

    I think some of the extra usage is just lighting up the screen every 15 minutes (at least, for my case) when you get a new notification. The screen is, by far, the biggest draw on the battery after all. And the screen basically never lit up in the past for every little thing. I think after turning off the things I’ve mentioned, I’ve improved it to the point that I’m thinking the screen being clicked on much much more often (while it’s in my pocket) can account for the rest of the missing life.

  • TheAngryPenguin

    No issues here. In fact, I use WeatherRadio (http://bit.ly/iMapWeatherRadio), which also uses Location Services pretty much all of the time, and I haven’t noticed any difference w.r.t. battery life on iOS 5.0 vs. 4.3.3.

    By default, iOS 5.0 has Stocks enabled in Notification Center — in my experience, turning it off seemed to make a noticeable, yet marginal difference in battery performance.

  • Manuel

    Looks like I’ll stay away from iOS 5. I wanted to try it, but not at the cost of battery.

    • iLike it

      Not everyone seems to bee affected so don’t miss out on iOS 5 because of a small percentage of user problems. I have 3 different models, 3G S, 4 and the 4S plus the iPad 2 and have no problems. On the other hand I really like iOS 5 and the ability to sync calendar, contacts and reminders between devices.

      PS. I don’t use all 3 iPhones at any one time. The 3G S is going to be sold as I’ve traded up.

  • http://www.TerranHosting.com WaterTrooper

    I’m going to turn off Traffic and Location Based iAds too. I don’t need those myself. What about anyone else?

  • http://scafe@me.com Scafe

    Nice one, thanks for that.,, after switching it off my battery life is now as it ahould be!!

  • Paul

    You are a genius! I was wondering why my fairly new iPad 2 was running low on juice much quicker than before sine the ios5 update. Have got another 2hrs usage time from this!

  • zyx

    I had this problem with 4S. Only because I restored it from my old 4. Starting as a fresh iPhone fix it.

  • Kessner

    You could go to date&time and turn off set automatically too. Does the same thing and doesnt interfere with any other program that checks the time zone.

  • http://www.mxpolice.com Christopher

    I have horrible battery life on my 4S, but I didn’t have this problem.
    I checked my 4 that has been upgraded (fresh install) to iOS5 and it has the problem.
    I disabled it anyway as well as traffic, iads, and diagnostics on my 4S and see if it will help.

  • Oldbiker

    Well, it looks like I may have come to the right place. My wife’s phone is a 3GS. It was working fine until I did the update. It was as stated here, massive battery drain. Not only that, we didn’t notice it when we set the phone down for several hours and it drained down to nothing. I plugged it in and it did not seem to charge, so I rebooted it and got the battery to charge. But here is the thing. Now when I plug it in either to the wall charger or the computer, it will be on and working for 5 or 10 minutes then it re-boots on it’s own. A vicious circle. We live some 200 miles from an Apple store, so right now, I just took out the SIM and activated another phone so my wife would have a phone. Anyone have any suggestions?

    On the iPhone VS Android discussion, here is my take. My wife has had a couple of iPhones and I think they are the world’s best hand held computer. Unfortunately, I feel they are a computer first, and a phone second. Where I spend a lot of my time, service is poor and I need something that is a phone first, and computer second. I just recently went to a “smart” phone because my kids were getting on me because I didn’t like to text and the keyboard on the touch screen makes it easier. I always carry a spare phone I can just slip my SIM into in case one gives out. We went on a motorcycle run with several friends this past summer and we camped in a semi-remote area. I didn’t think too much of it when a friend asked if I had service. I said yes. I thought it was strange, as we both had the same carrier (ATT). We had a group of about 25 couples and about half of them had iPhones, most on Att, some on Verizon. Most were 3Gs, one was a 4. Not one of them could call out. I let several of them use my Motorola Bravo to make calls As you know, the Bravo is not a high end Android phone. While not an issue in “civilization”, it’s a big issue where a life might be on the line. I am one of those old guys who likes Motorola just because my life’s work depended on Motorola radios. Yes, silly to some I know, but not to an old guy who has seen many lives saves by a Motorola radio. Sort of brand loyal, I guess. I don’t know anyone who has an iPhone 4S yet, but before I let my wife upgrade to another iPhone, we will need to see proof that it connects at least as well as my old Motorola. I personally want to wait for a iPhone 5.

    Meanwhile, if someone has a suggestion on my wife’s phone issue, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

    • iLike

      Have you tried a hard reset? Hold the home and power button down for 10 secs. The apple logo will appear for quite a while. And then the lock screen wil appear again.

      It cures a multitude of sins.

  • peter jansen

    As some above already mentioned, the screen lighting up with every notification, I use boxcar for FB, email and Twitter and wouldn’t miss it for the world, drais a lot of power too. Maybe settingva very dark background image might help ????

  • GLacy

    I noticed drastic improvements in bat life on the 5.0 software, but, sometimes the location hangs, and that drops 2-3 hours of bat life. Its not all the time, but i have noticed it 2-3 times in the last 3 months of ios 5 beta, and now public release.

  • Donna

    It seems to have worked on my iPhone 4–thanks for the tip.

  • http://None@none.com Marcos Herasme

    I feel battery life is the next frontier in Nanotelecomputers; in that regard if Apple could make the 4Sx or the 5 a 1mm (or 2) thicker and few ounces heavier but lasted 12 hours of abuse use they will make the, at least in my scale, the first superphone (or Super Nanotelecomputer).

  • Matt

    I don’t know about the iPhone or iPad but since using iOS 5 on my iPod Touch 4G, battery life seems to have increased by about 2-4 hours.

  • Philipp

    I cannot conpare (new 4S), but for sure the setting on time zone was hanging.
    The only thing which so far worked splendidly was switching off the phone plus the location – just with WiFi the battery is fine. Very few percent drainage over night. But the UMTS/WCDMA connection here about drains a lot it seems.
    Will check how this location setting improves things.

  • PeteK

    I’ve been wanting to upgrade my IP4 to iOS5 for a long time, but it seems there’s just to many of these kinda issues right now. Staying put on 4.3.3 where things seem to work just right.

  • mb2

    I found the same while testing my 4s. But i found another “bug”, which could also be connected with a drowning of the battery.

    The iPhone4s is connected to the USB port of my PC. It charges till it reaches 100%. If you leave the phone connected and take it on the next day i often had the problem the battery was down to 97% or even less. So it seems the phone does not correctly keep the full charge if once reached.

    Did anyone also have this mistery in loosing a few battery percent thought connected to power?

  • ChrisMe

    I have made some similar experiences, like some of you guys did.
    First, battery power will not stay by 100%, even if I am connected to my PC via USB.
    Battery power covers a range from 98-96%. Today I have turned off my time zone detecting.
    Hopefully this will gain me some more hours of battery power.
    Hopefully Apple will find a solution for all this soon.
    At least it is “only” a software failure, and not a hardware failure.
    But I have to say: Sorry Apple, but if you want to sell a smartphone for 660€, this just don’t have to happen!!!

  • Fam

    Thanks for your post have tried that made no difference, battery still running low very quick.

  • Fam

    Should mention I have a new 4S. I got it launch day, due to the battery problem I took it back to apple the gave me a new one. This seems to be excatly the same. I have now turned off everything as suggested on this and other web sites to see if I can get that battery to last longer than half a day :(

    Also noticed the iphone 4S heating up, its quite warm to the touch if not hot surely thats not normal.

    • ChrisMe

      Alright, I see we have the same problem! Since I have wrote the first time in this blog, some 50min ago, my battery power dropped down 9%! Even with new settings. In my case, they weren’t a good hint! And yes, using my Iphone while browsing or playing around, I recognize noticeable heat up at it’s backside, too!

  • http://www.bloggingdan.com Dan R.

    This worked for me. Seeing much better battery life. What I find interesting is that when checking usage before turning Setting Time Zone Off, it was usually close to the equivalent of the standby time since the last charge – maybe 20 minutes difference. Now it appears to more accurately reflect actual usage.

  • Peter Cooper

    I had to turn off “Compass Calibration” too to make the purple arrow go away. Hadn’t been using maps or nav recently so couldn’t see a reason for this being active. Thanks for the info.

  • dm

    I think it may be that the 4s is not going into standby. My usage and standby times are always the same! Wonder if that is causing a drainage?

  • jon

    I Also experienced this Problem on my iPad (first generation) after updating to iOS 5. I noticed higher than normal battery drain, went into settings & locations services to investigate and noticed time zone setting constantly using location services. Turned it off and battery life has markedly improved (though I still think a little worse than with iOS 4 (when using iBooks anyways).

  • dummy

    I think my problem was with reminders. I had a reminder set to remind me to do something when I got to a certain location; the problem was that I don’t expect to there for a couple of weeks. It seems that the phone was continually checking to see if I was there yet. I just changed the reminder to remind me on a date versus at a location and the location icon (arrow) in the top screen disappered and I think the batter life issues have returned to normal.

  • Tom L.

    This worked GREAT for me. Thanks!!

  • dm

    Response to my earlier post. I did a hard reboot, then killed all the apps running, also turned off the real time local weather. My phone started to show a different standby time than usage. Something was causing that. I think this is the problem. Keep a look at your usage, if it is the same as standby, it is going to drain the batt!

  • tCricket

    I had issues with my new 4S battery draining fast, so I did some research and one article suggested that the 4S had not been ‘calibrated’ properly for battery drain in that it was draining at a normal rate, but because the battery had never been fully drained iOS 5 didn’t know it’s true capacity and was reporting drain on what it thought was its capacity (which is less than what it really is). To fix this issue you run the phone completely down until it turns off, then recharge it completely without interruption. I tried this and it seems to have worked great! I noticed that at about 9% the phone started taking a lot longer to show the next % drop in battery life. The last 9% actually took about as long to drain as the first 30-40%. Thus backing up their theory. Either way, it worked. I’ve not plugged it in in 6 hours and I’m only down to 70%!

    • Old selftaught

      Didn´t you do that the first time you got the phone?
      It is standard for ALL recharable batteries, at least once a full cycle of charge and drain, and for better lifetime once a month.
      also energy saving lamps – first on maximal temperature (at least 2 hours) and then about the same time or longer off.
      I did not encounter any new hardware that would not need that common caution of old.

  • Aggghhh

    Aaaggghhhh i dont speak inglish. Helpme plis i have iphone 4s

  • Brian

    I tried this but it turns out that location-based reminders in the “Reminder” app. I had one that reminded me to lock the door whenever I left the house. I never check it as complete so it constantly monitored my location.

  • Darío

    Me sucede lo mismo…. Si lo llego a saber anterior no cambio al IOs 5…….vaya mierda!!!!
    La batería se agota enseguida, dura menos de la mitad…. Acabo de hacer lo que se indica y ya os contare…

  • De

    I have an iphone 4s and changing the time zone setting made no difference but when I turned off the compass calibration it seemed to make a difference.

  • Andy Dickinson

    This worked a treat for me.

    As others have mentioned, the usage amount now looks far more realistic. The other day I had the phone with me in the office, barely using it. When leaving after 8 hours on standby it was at 65% with usage time of 2 hours. Today, after following the above, it was on 89% with usage of 35 minutes.

    Currently I’m on 66% after 14h 33m standby and 2h 12m of usage. Perfectly happy with that – cheers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002976905304 Jay Ram

    thanks. I got my siri on iphone 4 siricrazy . com

  • Anonymous

    My 4S got stuck in Compass Calibration location services running. All apps were closed and I finally had to reboot the phone to get it to stop. Turning locations services off and on did not help. The icon went away when turned off but came back on again when I turned it on. Something somewhere in the kernel was stuck. I am now leaving the service off until I can get my hands on 5.0.2.

  • http://www.powerforiphone.com/ Power For iPhone

    The battery of my iPhone 4S is still draining. My only solution was to get on of these battery cases and wait until Apple can fix the issue in a new update :(

  • mohd 53

    hi i try it but still the problem showing that usag running with out using it and i restore my iphone 3 time whith out no change at all please help thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alon-Chaim-Cohen/584686991 Alon Chaim Cohen

    Interesting idea, the test seemed to confirm your theory, very well spotted!

    I’ll let you know if this makes a difference to me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1045401467 Judy Dent

    I turned off push for email, ALL notifications, including vibrate, and most sounds, with the exception of the ringtone and the `swoosh’ for sent email. The battery lasts on standby all day and night. Tomorrow I’ll check it before plugging in. I’m pretty pleased.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1045401467 Judy Dent

    I had tried switching “Setting Time Zone” off but that had not made a significant impact.

  • Juha Ranta

    I’ve used iPhone 4S since its release without battery problems. I live in Finland. However, I just recently got this same problem when I travelled to Rome via Amsterdam. I noticed that suddenly the battery drains very fast and even during the night when it wasn’t used at all. Also the loading took ages.

    I checked the Time Zone location thing as instructed here and yes, the status bar icon disappeared. Thanks!

  • Debra

    OMG. I called Verizon repeatedly. Helpful but not really. Called Apple, no help at all. I hope this works, as my phone lasted for days before I installed OS5, now it lasts about five hours. It even runs down when just sitting . . . no calls, texts, or any usage. Crazy. Thank you for posting this.