F*** My Battery Life

On Sunday, my iPhone's battery lasted about 4 hours. Granted, it's no secret that smartphones demand everything and then some from their batteries, between the mobile signal, the wifi, the GPS, the large hi-res full color screen, etc. For the roughly year and a half I've had my iPhone, I've come to live with the fact that I just have to charge it every day. But it's not just the iPhone. While the iPhone promises 5hrs of 3G talk time or internet use, the Droid claims only about 6.5 hrs. To be sure, you shouldn't need to talk for 5 or 6 straight hours on the phone, but using the internet for 5 or 6 hours straight is not completely outlandish, especially if you're using an app like Pandora that's constantly streaming data across the network.

Today I went into the Apple Store that's across the street from my office, and when I told the greeter about my battery woes, he said, no problem, its just "software corruption," just do a factory restore and then it'll be back to normal. Wow! A silver bullet! As soon as I got home I followed his instructions. And then, with the battery indicator showing full, I did a little test. How long would the battery last streaming the Bill Monroe station I have in Pandora? The answer: 2 hours, 10 minutes. Less than half the advertised talk time.

So given that I'm constantly charging this thing, the most practical thing to do is to leave it charging all day at work, and then all night at home. Now I know that charging for long periods of time shortens the life of the battery, but if I only get a day's use from a battery, when exactly am I supposed to charge it? Either phones need to last more than a day without a charge, or I should be allowed to charge it overnight.

Or, most importantly, phones need to allow for changing out their old batteries. Obviously this is a problem specific to iPhones, because with an iPhone you can't easily replace the battery. To this day it seems sort of unbelievable that this is true, especially given the iPhone's high energy usage as well as the notoriously short life of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. If I had a Droid I'd just be able to pop out the battery and put in a brand new one. My iPhone's battery, on the other hand, is housed in a dauntingly shuttered case, even though it lasted only a little longer than the included one-year warranty and far shorter than the two year contract I signed with AT&T.

Is the iPhone's battery not replaceable for purely aesthetic reasons, because Steve jobs didn't want an "ugly" battery door on the rear of the device? Or is it because they'd rather sell you a new phone than a new battery? In either case, the decision is inexcusable. I can't really think of a rational reason why they might have made this choice. In a lot of cases I can understand Jobs' fascistic design choices (case in point, getting rid of floppy drives in 1998), but not in this case.