The Problem.After months of poor battery life, weeks of system and app crashes, several days of dropped calls and two system restores, I finally resolved to visit the Genius Bar at the Apple Store to try to resolve the situation. Since getting my iPhone 4S, the battery life has always been worse than my iPhone 4, and most recently it’s become quite appalling – 5 hours on standby has become the norm, with me dashing from one power point to another just to get the thing on charge. Not good, and most definitely not right.
Booking an appointment at the Genius Bar is really easy using the iOS Apple Store app – it locates the nearest store and shows you the 10 minute slots that are available. Choose the one you want and its all done. Very easy, and very useful.
Genius started by suggesting I switch off several location-based services. I explained that I’d tried this several months ago, but no improvement had materialised. “OK, well, it’s worth doing anyway” was the reply. Hmmm. Next was the suggestion that I “kill” apps that are “running in the background”. Given that only last night I’d read “Misconceptions About iOS Multitasking” via Daring Fireball, I was prepared: “but surely the OS should manage that if needed, and anyway, aren’t most of them suspended”. No, I was assured, they were “using memory” and might be the cause of the crashes. Hmmm indeed. “And what about the dropped calls” I enquired? Same problem apparently – “possibly a lack of system memory”.
I could see this was going nowhere, certainly nowhere near a satisfactory resolution – I was pretty sure that none of the suggestions the Genius made were going to resolve the issues. “OK, but this is my 4th iPhone and I’ve never had to do any of this before. To be honest, I’d rather get my money back and I’ll use my iPhone 4.” Perplexed looks all around. “OK, well, let me run some diagnostics and lets see if there’s a problem.” The Genius disappeared into the back room, then 5 minutes later emerged with the news that the diagnostics were fine and showed no issues. Apparently “this isn’t a known problem” (no surprise they say this – I’ve read that Apple staff use this phrase quite often, whatever the problem), but “Apple would like to replace the iPhone for free as it’s still under warranty”. Very kind.
After that, I was really impressed by the swap process. I signed to say I was swapping my device, Genius swapped my SIM card into the new device, I entered my Apple ID and Password, and the device offered to restore the most recent iCloud backup from about 2 hours ago. Click OK, and it automatically started downloading the backup over Apple’s in-store wi-fi (which all Apple devices will connect to automatically). “It may take up to 10 minutes – just hang around in the store if that’s OK”. Sure enough, about 10 minutes later the download completed and the phone restarted to reveal a fully working phone, minus Apps (they are downloaded next). I completed this at home.
Too early to say. Apart from the dodgy advice I was given, which was either wrong (on the need to kill background apps: read this) or unsatisfactory (being advised to turn-off services in an attempt to get a usable battery life isn’t a great solution when you’ve spent £700 on the phone) I was pretty impressed by the whole process.
At least I feel Apple have done what I expected and done all they could to solve the problem for now. If this doesn’t resolve the issues then I’m not sure what the solution may be. I could try a system restore and then rebuilding the phone manually rather than loading a backup (maybe there’s a rogue config. issue in the backup – maybe not), but that’s going to be a long process that I’d rather not go through (apps to restore, settings to set, app layout to layout etc). Or I wait for the next iOS update. Neither is a good solution though, as I want a usable phone now. I’ll post an update in a few days.