Moving experiences / Home

« Nice MobileMe recovery | Main | My new gig - A columnist for Forbes »

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My iPhone 3G is like a prototype

Apple3giphonebattery During the past 13 years I have used maybe 100 different prototypes and my brand new iPhone 3G feels just like one of them. One of the classic characteristics of prototypes is poor battery life. Battery life is optimised last in the process and optimising it pays off. Since Apple is not selling the iPhone in Korea, they have probably not done any field testing.
When I arrived to Seoul with my new iPhone 3G on Monday morning, by 5PM the battery was flat, and I had not made any call, and tried hard not to use any roaming mobile data. It was practically just on Standby. Tuesday same was repeated. Today I had to charge it during lunch. I mentioned this to a guy living in Japan and he said he had same problem, he could not take it out at night as it would run out of battery. He said people have the iPhone in Japan as a second phone.
I decided to upgrade my iPod 32GB Touch to the 16GB iPhone essentially to support a new business, but also to have data available when I need it. I guess I felt that Wi-Fi is just too patchy. Now I regret it.
I am really unhappy, I don’t like to pay for prototypes. The iPhone has been unusable during my Korea trip.
My dilemma is. Can I actually take it back and claim I do not get the promised standby or talk times, mine are so ff that the shop will think I am insane, and when I claim I use it in Korea they will probably say though luck, your contract is with O2 an we only guarantee it living up to its promises in UK, yet they still will be happy to make money on me while abroad.
I am puzzled, what should I do? I turn to you my dear smart readers. Help me.

Update in November; I have now tested the iPhone 2.1 SW in France, Finland, UK and it is a clear improvement, it is more stable and bettery life is better. 

(Image courtesy of:

09:18 AM in Work | Permalink


Take it back and ask for a refund or replacement.

In the UK, goods sold must be of satisfactory quality, fit for the purpose and as described.

Does your contract with O2 actually say they only guarantee it living up to its promises in UK? I doubt it. A mobile phone is exactly that, mobile. You expect it to work properly when taking it with you, even if that is abroad. They still charge you for the sevice when abroard, the goods should still work satisfactorarily. Likewise, you'd expect a pair of boots to be suitable for walking in, whether or not that's explicity stated on the box.

Does the product make claims to battery life in the documentation (other than the slide from some speech)? It probably does, and whilst nowadays devices rarely actually last as long as they claim, it definitely shouldn't be as bad as you experienced. (And I guess the iPhone battery is enclosed, so you can't even take any spares.)

Some advice:

You can also get in touch with a CAB for free advice on this sort of thing.

Posted by: Hugo at Sep 4, 2008 10:14:19 AM


I would take it back and get them to cancel the contract. Rumour has it that O2 does not have the budget to offer customers the new Nokia N96 so no point in asking for different handset.

Am surprised that you did not take a back up with you. Am using the Skypephone2 from 3 as my second handset at the moment and have to say that it is even better than the first one ;-).

Posted by: Ian at Sep 4, 2008 3:14:15 PM

For testing, I would change into airplane mode so GSM and other radios are turned off. I would also make sure that the iPhone does not check email over WiFi in regular intervals (email settings).
If the battery is still empty within less than a day, the unit is probably broken. If turning off the radios fixes the problem in Korea, it might have to do with some special frequencies there. I would then check again in Europe. If the problem persists, I would complain at the shop.

Posted by: Oliver Völckers at Sep 4, 2008 8:29:37 PM

I guess you need 3G in Korea as 2G GSM is not supported? But otherwise you can consider using 2G (GPRS/EDGE) and switch off 3G for data, that saves a bunch.

My strategy is a bit different - I have a 16GB oldschool Iphone. Hacked them to work in European networks of course, resulting in a terrific value-for-money device, given I paid it using American peso and not putting contract money in AT&T & Apple's coffers.

I decided to stick with my old Iphone. I'm on v2 firmware for a month or so and I have the important benefits - app store, exchange support, even extra stuff like the Cydia installer which offers some apps not available/allowed in the app store. Only downside is lack GPS (but the Skyhook location system is good enough for me on the 2G) and 3G - but that latest one comes at the expense of battery life you experienced, and I find it's not that relevant when you're often around a WiFi hotspot. On average by the end of the day the battery on my Iphone is half empty.

For me, the v2 software is a bigger step forward than the hardware improvement of the 3G. So I'm holding out for an Iphone with more hardware innovation, e.g. a better camera, decent video recording, more bluetooth profiles (A2DP, modem).

Posted by: Jeroen at Sep 4, 2008 11:07:35 PM

First off, take it into an Apple Store (or call up AppleCare) and get them to swap it out for a new one. Tell them that the battery isn't nearly living up to what was promised and they should be happy to switch it.

If it's obvious that the replacement is having the same issues as the first (and you're still not happy) take it into an O2 shop and get them to cancel the contract. Pay the amount of full months you've had so far, but don't pay the early termination fee.

Posted by: Alex Muller at Sep 5, 2008 1:10:11 AM

I used iPhone 3G for a month and it usually gave me battery life for a whole working day (7-10 hours), even with some data use. Could you just have somehow a bad sample?

There've been lots of complaints about iPhone's 3G problems, but at the same time many are quite happy. Quite strange. I've lately used Nokia E51 and E71, and compared iPhone's battery life to them, I haven't seen a big difference. For all the current devices battery life seems to be a weakness.

However, as quick fix, is there still the 3G mode switch in iPhone Settings menu? Forcing it to 2G (GSM) mode could help. That is, if regular GSM works in Seoul.

Posted by: Tero Lehto at Sep 5, 2008 7:28:45 AM


you call ansi or mikko and you get it exchange for an N series something or a Tube. Just keep supermonkeyball on it, it's a good game.

Besr regards,

Posted by: i know at Sep 6, 2008 11:07:34 PM

Only solution to your problem

Posted by: Mike4mobile at Sep 12, 2008 4:53:08 PM

I've just returned from Seoul, South Korea and my iPhone 3G worked like a dream. It makes calls, sends texts (no other handsets from the UK did) i didn't turn on data roaming because of the cost so can't help with that BUT large parts of Seoul have free Wi-Fi access so it didn't make any difference. Seoul is what the iPhone was built for.......

Posted by: John Galpin at Oct 27, 2008 6:23:50 PM

i think it,s a great iphone.

Posted by: laptopreviews at Oct 29, 2008 7:41:35 AM

my iphone 3g sometime very hot . what is the problem? switch it off and on again back to normal....

Posted by: r4 adapter at Oct 26, 2009 1:54:27 PM

Yeah i had one of those, and my battery always was flat when i needed it the most :(

Posted by: r4 kaart at Mar 9, 2010 2:24:12 PM

They say that the iphone 4g will have a much better battery then the 3g. The 3g's battery is not that good but it depends what your doing with your iphone, video needs the most power.

Posted by: buitenkeuken at Jun 5, 2010 1:28:05 PM

Yeah the battery of the iphone 4g is said to be much better then the one of the 3g. Time will tell though

Posted by: catfight video at Jun 19, 2010 11:27:38 AM

The 4g has problems of its own. And the battery life of the 3g is allready much better.

Posted by: Cali Logan at Aug 22, 2010 11:51:04 PM

Just have to wait in see what the Iphone 5 will do

Posted by: R4 Kaart at Jun 4, 2011 8:34:15 AM

by the time we are on iphone 6 it will be fixed :D

Posted by: R4i at Jun 4, 2011 8:35:29 AM

Why not possess the post posted for the facebook? This can be ideal.

Posted by: Official NFL Jerseys at Jul 8, 2011 9:05:13 AM

I’m just trying to clarify slot size calculations and how to roll it up to figuring out the number of requires servers in an HA cluster.

Posted by: Official Kobe Bryant Jersey at Aug 11, 2011 12:09:50 PM

Why not possess the post posted for the facebook? This can be ideal. i think so!

Posted by: Peyton Manning Jersey at Aug 15, 2011 6:14:36 PM

You guys are making a story out of that. That's no story. We have astarting rotation.

Posted by: Philadelphia Eagles Jersey at Aug 17, 2011 3:52:23 AM

Yeah the battery of the iphone 4g is said to be much better then the one of the 3g.

Posted by: NFL Reebok Saints Jerseys at Aug 19, 2011 9:31:56 AM

Why not possess the post posted for the facebook? This can be ideal.

Posted by: lacoste shoes women at Aug 24, 2011 12:18:56 PM

You guys are making a story out of that. That's no story.

Posted by: Customized Oakland Raiders Jersey at Aug 27, 2011 6:50:02 AM

post. In theory I would like to write like this too. You need time to creat that interesting an

Posted by: oakley sunglasses at Oct 22, 2011 1:04:28 PM