Friday, 9 October 2009

My experience with iPhone 3GS [Updated]x3

Month and a half ago I bought white 32GB iPhone 3GS (fw 3.0.1) at t-mobile here in Croatia. Since day one there was a problem with battery life. It just drains too fast with all services and 3G turned off (and even faster when on of course).

For example: Fully charged in the midnight, by the 8AM the indicator still reads 100%. Then after two one minute phone calls and one sent e-mail it drops to 97%. Took couple of photos it is at 94% and one pixel column from the battery indicator is already missing. When you use safari over edge you can literally see that the battery percentage is dropping like 1% in two minutes of use.

This could probably considered normal to some users who don’t have other iphones to compare. Fortunately I have, and my iPhone 2G lasts at least 3x more and the battery indicator will stay full for a whole day with average use. My friend have iPhone 3G and their battery life is completely normal.

After couple of days using it normally I concluded that I need to charge it like 2 times a day which is completely unacceptable. Moreover I still maintain that with mine light usage I shouldn’t be forced to charge it daily.

Then I decided to test the phone against apple’s specifications. So browsing over wifi should last around 9 hours, and movie playback should last around 10 hours. So I’ve turned autolock to off, and navigated Safari to a page which reloads itself every minute. Left it that way for whole night and to my great surprise after 9 hours it still had like 25% charge left. Same with video playback. I’ve put Wrath of Khan and the battery life easily exceeded specifications. That was what puzzled me the most. Then I wanted to test it in real Safari use (just normal browsing) over wifi. 10% lasted barely more than half an hour. That means that the battery would last no more than 5 hours.

Then after couple more days of testing (and restoring as new, restarting, setting up on other computers etc) I returned to the t-com center and filed warranty claim. That was 2 weeks after purchase. A month(!) later they called me to pick up the phone. It was the same one accompanied with a letter that the battery was OK when tested and the software was updated to 3.1. I wasn’t hopeful at all and returned home and the problem was the same. Next day I called customer support and demanded to know what are my options of repair. The operator said to return it twice more (!) for warranty claim because after three times they will give you a new one. I of course refused because I didn’t want to be without iPhone for 3+ months (and I have to pay for it anyway) and demanded to know what other options there are. The only other option was to write a complaint to t-mobile. Which I did and sent it by e-mail and normal post office, but certified way. That was 4 days ago so I’m still waiting for the official reply. As advised on the Croatian consumer protection web page I demanded a brand new iPhone or servicing the defective one (I know that you get refurbished one) but on the condition that I get replacement 3G or 3GS (which I didn’t get when filing a warranty claim, only some htc/mda/WM crap which I refused). As the final option I requested an immediate termination of contract without paying early termination fee.

So what to conclude from this experience? This just affirms my suspicions that Apple doesn’t test iPhones after production or in other words their QA falls on the backs of users which is a huge problem for consumers in a country like Croatia where warranty claims are always a nightmare to go through.

Other resources:

Huge thread about the issue at Apple support forums (dunno why it is called “support” because Apple doesn’t read it).

Big thread at (in croatian language only) about almost non-existent, evasive, and blame-the-user servicing support at t-mobile croatia.

You can see my previous posts like this here, here, here and here

Update 24/10/2009:

Received a response to my complaint: t-mobile will sent my (short) claims of battery life to Apple to probably decide what to do. This doesn’t spell too good of a news, because Apple can simply say that the battery life is ok (and they are keen to say it judging from the apple support group linked above) and t-mobile will just shrug and basically tell me: “sue us”. Another problem is that the whole process is taking too long a time so I can press on with my demands regardless of the negative outcome. Anyways, we’ll see what will Apple respond.

Update 8/12/2009:

The response I got was to go to the nearest t-mobile center and ask for my phone to be serviced once again if I want to get a new one. Translated that means just another servicing. To be quite honest, that wasn’t the answer I was expecting. So I went there expecting to cancel the contract and demand money-back because they certainly didn’t have replacement iphones. But I was wrong as you might suspect. When I got there it is always the usual stuff. Long tirade of what’s the problem with the phone, and it all ends with the “helpdesk” guys legendary sentence: “we can send your iphone for servicing”. Then I foolishly agreed, but only if they give me iphone as a temporary replacement. (This is the part where I made a mistake. I should have asked for contract termination right away, but no matter, lets continue with what happened next.) They declined of course saying, and I kid you not, that the only phone to get as a replacement is some MDA crap. That was totally expected because I heard the same story (and was foolishly completely convinced by it) two times before. But this time I made a right choice and said that in that case I want contract termination. Believe or not, all of the sudden they somehow did have an iphone as a temporary replacement. Then I made some quick thinking (which in my case never had a good record) and decided to take it and give my iphone to servicing. The guy made a report and even though I clearly described the problem, the only thing the guy wrote on the report was: “Battery is empty in less then 24h under minimal use.” In retrospective, I shouldn’t have signed it and the reason is simple. I bet that those morons at the service center don’t test mobile phones for more than 10 minutes. And in that time you won’t notice the huge battery drain I was experiencing. I should have added a note for those service morons to call me when they get to my iphone. Then I asked if they should attach my mail correspondence with the customer support I had, but no, the guy said that wasn’t needed because those service guys have all the necessary data. Of course they don’t have any of it and they don’t have any interest in those. Then I realized that I was duped so hard by that a$$#ole in customer support because the correspondence lasted more than a month and I got exactly nothing out of it. In any case, I grabbed the replacement iphone 3g and went about my business.

I was a bit anxious about the battery performance with the temporary replacement but that was quickly dispelled. Even though the phone was new, and the battery wasn’t fully formed the battery lasted like 4 times as much then on my iphone 3gs. For example, my 3gs would indicate around 50-60% battery charge left by 5 PM (10h standby – charged overnight). But with replacement 3G, and with around same usage, I would have full battery indicator in the evening (24h standby) and the next day in the morning I would have only 1 pixel row missing from the battery indicator, and by the end of the next day I would still have more than 60% of battery left. Then I would charge it or sometimes I even used it for the third day without problem. I have tested this extensively because I have the replacement for almost two weeks now. So I’m kinda glad that I got this 3G for a replacement because they have almost identical battery lifetime specs (3gs has slightly better though) and I was a little afraid that I would have the same problem as I had with 3gs.

So what to expect when I get a call to from t-mobile?

Case 1: 3GS replaced. Win situation.

Case 2: 3GS not replaced, there is “no problem with the phone”. I’ll print out comparative screenshots (I have those aplenty) and 3G vs 3GS battery specifications and layout them in front of them. If they don’t give me a new 3GS I’ll terminate the contract, and demand my money back. Win situation.

As always, I’ll keep you posted on any news.

Btw, I got myself employed, so I got an extra incentive to post more (no more exams hanging above my head). But the trouble is, when employed, I don’t travel at all, and don’t have much money to spend on new hardware (and consequentially to review) or something else. (I’ll link the same image from another source as soon as I figure out how to bypass bloggers too aggressive image compression)

Notice that the picture is showing phone usage with all services off and 3G off. There are two exceptions though, but those are turned on just before taking the screenshot. On some pictures you may notice some relatively high usage time, but that is due to music playback. That shouldn’t drain battery much so I included those screenshots too.

Update 2/2/2010

Ok, my iPhone 3GS was replaced by a refurbished one a little more than one month ago. For couple of weeks the battery life was the same or even a little worse than my original GS. But around 2 weeks ago things suddenly went better and better which is quite unexpected. Now the phone spends around 20% per day with some use. So I use it for full 3 days and on the evening of the third day I put it to recharge with around 40% battery remaining. I’m not sure what’s the cause because I haven’t changed anything but there is a slight possibility that keeping closed all safari tabs can reduce the battery drain. I haven’t tested with always opened tabs (after I noticed battery life improving), but I’ll try it in the coming days.

Same day update:

Apple released 3.1.3 patch addressing (after 3 moths, no less!) the problem with the “battery indicator” on 3GS models. I hope it will fix my problem (not as much pronounced anymore in the recent weeks anyway) too.

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