Tips to get more battery life from your iPhone 4S

Jack Wallen offers some tips for preserving and even extending the battery life of your iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 4S is an impressive piece of hardware. It doesn't offer the flexibility of an Android, but it has an incredibly smooth, responsive user interface and voice command system (Siri) that's second to none. The iPhone 4S has a 200 hour standby time (which is 100 hours less than the 3G/4), but some folks have told me that they get less than eight hours of battery life (with moderate to heavy usage). For many users, that kind of battery life simply isn't acceptable, especially for such a mature platform.

Fortunately, there are ways to eke more life out of that smartphone -- or even add extra life. With just a few tweaks (and/or a purchase), you can nearly double the time between charges. Let's see how this is done.

Shut off location services

This is the biggest culprit of battery drainage with the iPhone 4S. It's been "reported" as a bug with iOS (though no one can confirm this). The GPS is used for a lot of things, but it frequently checks to see if you've switched time zones, which gobbles up more energy than anything else. However, you can overcome this issue by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap the Location Services bar
  3. Scroll down to the bar at the bottom of the window and tap System Services (Figure A)
  4. Switch Setting Time Zone into the Off position (Figure B).
Figure A

Accessing a Verizon-branded iPhone's System Services is a couple of taps away.

That's it. Unless you know you'll be moving across time zones, you should be okay. Your iPhone won't be "phoning home" to check the time zone throughout the day.

Figure B

You can switch any service you want to the Off position. Just make sure you know what that service does before you do so.

Managing your Wi-Fi

Why do you need the Wi-Fi service on when you're not using Wi-Fi? Honestly, you don't. And unlike Android, you can't just add an icon on your home screen to easily turn Wi-Fi on and off. I recommend that you switch off Wi-Fi until you need it -- otherwise, that service will always be waiting for a connection, which wastes battery life. Here's how:

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap Wi-Fi Networks
  • Move the Wi-Fi slider to the left for off --  or to the right, if you want to turn it back on (Figure C).
Figure C

When you turn your Wi-Fi off, your networks will seemingly disappear. When you turn it back on, they'll be remembered.

Turn off Push data

Although the Push feature is incredibly convenient, it can be a real waste of battery. Unless you absolutely have to be up-to-date every second of every day, I recommend taking your data retrieval down a notch to a more battery-friendly frequency. Do this by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendar
  3. Tap Fetch New Data
  4. Turn off Push by sliding the associated switch to the left
  5. Select the new frequency of data fetching (Figure D)
Figure D

Manually is the most battery-friendly setting available, but you'll have to remember to manually fetch new data.

Purchase a battery add on

One of my favorite battery add-ons is the Spyder Digital Research Battery Case and Sync Dock (Figure E). It's a bad name for a great product that will run you just under $70.00 (USD). Within this rubbery iPhone 4S case is a battery that you can use to recharge your device. All you have to do is push and hold the On/Off switch (on the back of the case), and you'll get an extra eight hours (reported) of life from your iPhone. Figure E

The case is a bit large, but it's well worth the extra size.

When your iPhone is being charged, you'll see small blue LED lights on the back of the case. There are four lights possible, depending on how much charge your Spyder case has available.

A word of warning when using the Spyder case for syncing and updating: With the phone resting in its cradle, it's very easy to knock off -- thus losing its connection. You can bypass the cradle and plug the micro USB cord (included) directly into the case for a more secure connection.

These are a few easy fixes to help you get more life from your iPhone 4S battery. Turn off a few services, and you'll see a longer life from your iPhone 4S battery. If you're one of those users that needs all their services on all the time, opt for the Spyder case, and you'll almost double the life you get out of your battery.

Do you have tips or tricks for extending the life of your iPhone 4S? If so, please share them in the discussion thread below.