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iPhone 4S Tips: Temp Fixes For Battery Drain, Call Echo

by Adriana Lee | November 3, 2011November 3, 2011 6:30 pm PST

When the iPhone 4S was released, it rang in 4 million launch-weekend activations (and pushed iOS up to 61.64 percent of the global mobile-OS market last month). With all those new handsets in the wild, it was only a matter of time before users began noticing some quirks.

Battery life is a chieffy among them. I was one of the users hit with the nasty power drainage problem. (I know that the 4S is officially rated with 100 hours less standby time than the previous iPhone 4, so I was prepared for that. But this? How does it lose 10% in one hour — without being touched, much less used, and with no data-hogging app in the background or continuous signal drop-out/search? It’s mind-boggling.) Apple has acknowledged the problem and promises to patch it in the next software update, but until then — what’s an i-user to do?

Well, until an official solution comes along, there’s always the wise words of advice from the online community. According to iDownloadBlog, at least one of problems stems from a time zone bug that forces the phone to track a user’s location more/longer than it should, resulting in an epic battery suck. I tried the band-aid fix mentioned there, and it does seem to help, so I’m passing it along to you fine folks.

The fix is simple: Just go into Settings / General / Date & Time, then turn “Set Automatically” to “Off.”

Your handset won’t set its own time zone automatically when you travel, but at least it might be able to hang onto a decent amount charge while you’re using it at home. While you’re at it, you may want to go into Settings / Location Services / System Services, and see if there’s anything you can turn off. (If you’re like me, you may not much care if the iAds sent to the phone are location-specific or not.)

I’m guessing that it might also be a good idea to watch your Siri usage. Yeah, I’ve been having fun asking her dumb questions to amuse my friends too — not that it isn’t neat that she knows the meaning of life is “chocolate,” and can tell me where to bury a dead body — but she needs an active connection to work properly. So if you’re using Siri a lot more than you need to, it could be contributing to the problem.

Ars Technica did the math, and it looks like hitting her up a few times a day (like 3) to more frequent use (at, say, 10-15 times daily) could result in usage of anywhere from 4 to 30MB of data, just for this feature alone. Granted, it’s not a huge amount of bandwidth — though it could tip some unknowing people into overage territory — but if a service area is spotty, the phone repeatedly trying to connect over the cellular waves could wind up being a bigger battery hit than you realize.

Then there’s the echo issue. Some 4S users have reported some echoing when using the included Apple headsets during a phone call. If you’re among the afflicted, try this stop-gap remedy: If the sound starts to echo (sometimes it happens 30 seconds up to 9 minutes into a call), the device’s speakerphone can get rid of it. Just quickly turn it on and then off.

As for that pesky Sprint iPhone speed issue: Well, there’s no fix for that yet, neither temporary nor permanent. The carrier has at least acknowledged the slow speeds affecting some of its iPhone userbase, though it just can’t seem figure out what’s going on yet. The problem, which is interestingly not affecting everyone, is apparently tough for Sprint to reproduce. (When CNET tested data speeds in Manhattan, it even found that the Sprint version was better than Verizon‘s.) Looks like this one might take some time to suss out. In the mean time, Wifi will be the order of the day for these end users.

Are you experiencing any bugs? Let us know if you have any brilliant tips to share for handling them.

[via iDownloadBlog, ArsTechnica, BoyGenius Report, CNET]


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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