Will iPhone’s Battery Drain It’s Prospects of Becoming a Christmas Number One?

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New iPhone, same old problems – so remark the naysayers, anyway. The latest brouhaha bears the distinctive hallmarks of that surrounding previous Apple devices; smartest phone in the world, dumbest battery known to man. News that a flaw in Apple’s location services system is rapidly draining batteries across the land has knocked the luster off its much-touted iOS 5. After all, even the most sophisticated phone in the galaxy has to, you know, work.

The current problem seems to lie within the phone’s System Services. A growing number of tech-heads have noted that the ‘Setting Time Zone’ element is constantly operating despite the user’s lack of movement. Such perpetual location services activity can trigger serious drains on any smartphone’s battery, which isn’t surprising when you consider the mobile mast data triangulation involved. To some users though, it feels like yet another iPhone hiccup.

Apple’s support boards are currently being inundated by crestfallen customers, disappointed that a £500 phone can barely sustain 12 hours of battery life – and that’s not their only gripe. As well as spikes in battery use, some users have complained of the device becoming unnervingly hot – even when used outdoors.

It’s hardly the sort of PR Apple needs in light of the recent ‘Yellowgate’ scandal, in which users reported washed-out screens on their new 4S handsets. It’s certainly not what consumers shopping for Christmas gifts will want to hear either, particularly given the clamour surrounding fresh Android devices entering the market.

Sites such as Macworld are currently handling the complaints, offering guides and solutions on how to fix the handsets. Recent murmurings suggest a glitch in the software may be to blame, as opposed to the latest lithium-ion battery. Forming an early queue for the upgrade mightn’t be a bad idea.

Alternatively, switching off ‘Setting Time Zone’ has reportedly improved the 4S’s battery life, albeit at the cost of time zone adjustments during travel. Thankfully (or disappointingly, depending on how you look at it) most of us aren’t international financiers constantly jetting around the globe, and as such it seems a small price to pay for renewed battery life.

What’s clear is that ‘Setting Time Zone’ isn’t the only drain on your 4S’s dual-core engine, however. Given that the device is running the latest iOS 5, a virtual Assistant and various iCloud services, it’s no small wonder it’s tired at the end of the day.  Give the overworked handset a break, right?

Wrong. Users are angry and want answers. While disgruntled iPhone owners have yet to form picket lines outside the company’s Cupertino HQ, consumer trust has again taken a blow.  Buyers of the £500 handset expect to be able to unsheathe their new iPhone from the cellophane, discard the box and trust that it’ll work without a hitch.  Apple engineers have already contacted some 4S users to test performance profiling software on the maladjusted devices. Whether the company will provide a simple solution that works across the board remains to be seen.

While it is almost certainly guaranteed that iPhone 4S contracts will continue to sell, the reputation of Apple might take a hit.  With Samsung shipping around 10 million more smart phones than Apple in 3Q 2011, Apple needs to do everything it can to retain the leading edge in whatever area’s it can.

So readers, the pertinent question is this:

Will the battery finally drain consumer patience?

Weigh in your opinion and let us know if you think the battery life issue on the iPhone 4S will hurt the brand and model or do you think it will be mitigated quickly via some patch and possibly disabling services?

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