Poor battery performance is one of the major teething issues that’s been plaguing early iPhone 4S adopters who are flocking to Apple Support Communities forum in search for answers. Apple has remained mum on the matter thus far. The problem appears to be affecting some iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS users as well, indicating a likely software bug rather than a hardware defect. There’s an interesting remedy that may not work for everybody, even though some folks are reporting seeing an improved battery performance.

It appears that the ‘Setting Time Zone’ function in iOS 5 can lead to excess power drain because the device is repeatedly polling the user’s location in order to set the time zone based on their current location (which is useful when traveling). To disable this functionality, launch the Settings app, navigate to Location Services > System Services and turn off the ‘Setting Time Zone’ option. You should see a purple location services icon in the iPhone’s status bar disappear:

Switching it off may mean that your iPhone will no longer set its own time zone when you travel, but that’s a small price to pay for having your iPhone last more than 12 hours on a full charge. We have tested this method on 4 different iPhone 4s handsets, including an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 3GS. All have reported drastically improved battery life after switching “Setting Time Zone” off.

Yes, it’s a band-aid solution but a helpful one, at least until Apple delivers a fix through a firmware update. While we’re at it, you may also want to disable Location-Based iAds and Diagnostics & Usage and leave only the essential system location services running (Cell Network Search, Compass Calibration and Traffic).

Apple rates the battery inside the iPhone 4S as having up to 200 hours of standby, a hundred less than the previous model, in spite of the iPhone 4S’s extra .05W/hrs battery and an hour-longer talk time. iLounge found out that iPhone 4S has worse battery life for 3G data and audio/video playback/recording compared to the previous model. Apple offers this tip on improving battery life on your iPhone:

Be sure to go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100% and then completely running it down).

Macworld’s interesting iPhone 4S battery troubleshooter mentions using a system diagnostics app such as System Activity Monitor in order to determine which processes are running unnecessarily in the background. This can help pinpoint the cause of battery woes. For example, a faulty contact entry may affect syncing your iCloud contacts. In this scenario, the iCloud sync might end up endlessly looping in the background, enough to quickly drain your battery. Has any of the aforementioned tips helped improve your iPhone 4S’s battery performance? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments.

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