All entries for Wednesday 16 July 2008

July 16, 2008

iPhone 3G battery life

Follow-up to I admit it, I cracked… from Steve's blog

After a just a few days of playing with the new toy, my main problem with it was the battery life. I seems to get somewhere between 24 and 36 hours between charges. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised because I’m doing so much more with it that I ever did with a phone. I have WiFi & 3G enabled, and push email from Warwick’s exchange and 15 minute polls of my gmail account. And that’s before I do any surfing and other stuff. When you take all that into account, actually 36 hours between charges isn’t too bad. And the buzz on the web seems to suggest that the iPhone’s battery life is at least as good as, if not better that, most other similar smartphones.

But it does still leave me with a problem. Every once in a while I’m away from power for more than a couple of days. For example, for a week during the summer I’ll be in a tent in the middle of a field. Not a power socket in sight. Am I going to have to carry another phone to make sure I can last the week?

To try and answer that question I ran an experiment today. I turned off all the smart stuff. No WiFi. No 3G. No push or pull of email. No surfing. Just a 2G phone. As it happens, I had no calls either. The phone was configured like this after a charge yesterday evening and 24 hours later the battery indicator hadn’t moved from the green 100% full state. That’s good news. I take that to mean at least 4 days of use, and probably more, if configured just as a phone. I don’t plan on running the experiment that long, though. I can’t leave all the fun stuff turned off that long! I’ll find out for sure when I’m in my tent:-)

Actually, I do carry a FreeLoader which has an internal battery charged from solar panels, but also chargeable separately. In this country, this summer, I expect the solar panels to be useless but I’ll at least have one full re-charge for the iPhone. That should get me through the week, possibly even with a little spare for fun stuff!!!

I admit it, I cracked…

Writing about web page

I couldn’t resist. I got one. I was fortunate enough to get my order in on the O2 website last Monday morning before it fell in a heap, so no queuing for me on Friday. Nice Mr. DHL brought it straight to my door. As you probably heard, the activation process was not entirely robust and I spent from 3:00pm to about 4:30pm trying to activate the thing with no success. Eventually I gave up for a while, and when I got back to it at 8pm it worked flawlessly, and very quickly. I’m not sure I understand why it needs activating in the first place, but by all accounts I got off lightly.

My first impressions are generally very good. The UI is just brilliant. I love everything about it. It is a joy to use. The screen is much lower resolution than the Nokia N810 I had on trial at the start of the year, and lower than I expected to be happy with, but actually it is fine. I think I even prefer it to the Nokia screen. The multi-touch interface is brilliant, although there are one or two places where it doesn’t quite work. Physically the device is nice to hold – helped I guess by the rounded edges. It isn’t too heavy, so doesn’t feel like a brick if you carry it in a shirt pocket.

On the whole, the built-in apps work as expected. I’ve had Safari crash on me a few times, for no obvious reason. It doesn’t affect the rest of the phone, though, so it is only mildly annoying. The push email/contacts/calendar functionality works perfectly with our Exchange server. In fact, the iPhone generally beeps at me just a couple of seconds before my Outlook client tells me of a new email. I’ve only played with a few of the apps from the app store, and so far only the free ones. Mostly they are OK, but I’ve deleted a couple because they are flaky and crash too often. There are a few non-free ones that a quite tempting and reasonably priced. It seems like the app store could work quite well. It even told me last night about an update to one of my apps, and happily downloaded and upgraded it when I told it to. And that was without having to go through iTunes.

Pretty much my only problem with the device so far is the battery life. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but with everything turned on – WiFi, 3G, push email from Exchange and 15 minute polling of gmail, plus random browsing throughout the day, I don’t get much more than a day from the battery. This is no worse than the Nokia, but I’m used to my phone lasting a week between charges. Of course, this is more than a phone, and I’m not using it as a phone. Most of the battery tests elsewhere on the web suggest the battery life is actually pretty good when compared to other similarly capable smartphones. I’ll just have to get used to charging it everyday. I think a dock beside my bed, so it charges overnight, would work quite well.

Every once in a while, though, I’m away from power for a while. Charging it every night could be tricky during my week in a tent over the summer, for example. You can turn off all the fun stuff and just have it work as a plain 2G phone. I’ve currently got it configured that way to see how the battery copes. It is looking good so far.

I’ve not had time to do anything much with GPS & maps, other than check that it works. It gets a GPS fix pretty quickly, even indoors, and the maps do what you’d expect from Google maps.

I’ll run through the main apps in more detail once I’ve had more time to play with them and figure out what I like and don’t like about them. Watch this space.

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