Report Claims that iPhone 5 Battery Life May Be Affected by Cellular Signal Strength

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MacRumors has pointed out an interesting section of iLounge’s in-depth review of the iPhone 5. The section of note is regarding the device’s battery life, and what they found is kinda surprising. iLounge tested the device under a myriad of conditions such as FaceTime calls, video recording, audio and video playback, and yes web surfing by wifi and cellular networks.

Overall it seems that the device hits pretty close to Apple’s promised numbers for certain activities. However, evidence suggests that the device burns through battery power when cellular signal is weak. The report claims that when cellular signal is weak, the iPhone 5′s antennas work harder to maintain a connection. In doing so, they use more battery power. Compounding the issue, signal strength may be weak for some LTE users at this time, due to network carriers building out this new technology. In turn, this means signals are regularly weak, and the iPhone 5 must fight to keep a connection, and thus battery life kinda sucks.

With no scientific testing of my own to back this up, I have to agree with the report. Several days a week I spend most of my time in an outdated, concrete, soviet-style bunker building at my college. Leaving the iPhone 5 (or for that matter, iPhone 4S) in my pocket, the battery will drain as the device tries to get a signal through the two-foot thick concrete walls. Amazingly, some sort of signal regularly gets through, but is very weak. This destroys my battery life. However, if I switch on Airplane Mode while in class, I lose very little charge by the time I get out.

I also tend to keep the iPhone 5′s screen pretty bright, which also doesn’t help with battery life at all.

I won’t say battery life on the iPhone 5 is bad, but it’s not great. It seems the same as the iPhone 4S’ battery life to me. That said, I believe battery technology is where the next breakthrough will have to be. As these devices keep getting smaller and more powerful at the same time, new batteries will have to adjust accordingly- hold more power in a smaller area.

Chart courtesy of iLounge.



  • Northerner

    Not to be a wiseass or anything. This specific bug or whatever you would like to call it has been a fact since radiowaves where invented or atleast discovered and used for other stuff than radioactive waves from the sky.

    Thus it is something you could call a physics law, much like gravity.
    The closer to a planet you are, the more it pulls. The same comes with transmitters and receivers (both which are found inside ALL cellphones) this means that the better reception youve got, the less energy it requires to keep a connection.

    This means – NO PHONE EVER WILL EVER BE IN ANOTHER WAY THAN THIS. Atleast as long as they are based on radiowaves, which in case you wonder, is not the best way, though the only way, to keep a connection over long distances. Example, try call curiosty, every word said will take a few minutes to reach the destination, aswell as shitloads of energy to keep the data intact and not spread over a to wide area to be hard to receive.

  • Mockman

    Yikes! Is this headline for real? Of course signal strength affects battery life. How do you think a cell phone works?

    If you’re going to write about wireless technology, it might be worth learning something about it. My apologies if this sounds rude but this is appalling.

  • jhrogersii

    I always found this to be true with older models, as well. My 4 and 4S would drain much faster in buildings where signal would come and go. Anytime signal is lost, the phone has to actively search for it again at a regular interval, so it makes sense that this would kill the battery.

    Have you tried switching off LTE while you are at school? It would be interesting to see if that helped any.

  • Marvin Nakajima

    I believe high battery drain is common in that situation for ALL cellphones .. It’s more of a surprise that this is actually news to people. One of the reasons you don’t leave your cellphone on in a plane is for battery drain reasons. Kinda hinted at by the “Airplane mode” name ya’know. :P

  • hdz062

    my battery life goes down 1% almost after every regular text message i send! Have you heard that one before? (iPhone 5)

  • MarioGV

    My iPhone battery will be at 100% charge-then only to have it last about 5 hrs & within those 5 hrs I haven’t used it much, been outside for good reception. I even went inside an Apple store to have it checked which they verified all is well!

    The iPhone 5 battery is terrible!!! I think I am going back to my old iPhone 4, the “Steve Jobs” era of building products properly!

  • http://twitter.com/mattsfraser Matt Fraser

    The battery life on my iphone 5 is incredibly poor and I am EXTREMELY disappointed. It dies within 6 hours and I should have to shut all of the features off to extend the battery. What the flip is the point of having the features if you can’t use them.

  • Amy

    My iPhone 4 had 4-5 bars of cellular signal in my office. It had the same in my house. Now, my new iPhone 5 has far less – 2-3 bars on a good day, sometimes 1 bar. Any idea what causes this significant difference between the two models?

  • GabbaGabba

    My iPhone 5 is at 72% after checking email and reading half an article and this article. I used it for 58 minutes with like 1 hour 20 standby time. What gives? It dies so quickly with light use. I had a droid x before this and the first iPhone before that and never have I had so many battery issues.

  • CK

    NEWSFLASH: Roses are red, sky is blue, phones under weak signal areas will have its radio work harder to maintain communication with towers thus draining battery life faster. There is nothing new about that, it is a true fact that the iphone 5′s battery is nowhere as good as the previous generation, weak signal or not. Let’s all hope that an update will have enough tweaks to provide balance thus extending the battery life.

  • piss off customer!

    i actually miss my iphone 4s. damn it! the battery life was way better! i barely even use the damn iphone5 to check up on emails,etc. and the battery is totally drained!! gosh damn it i hate apples!! argh!! i knew i should have went with something else!! i can’t even go anywhere without bringing along my damn charger cause I know i’ll be needing it asap! annoying!!! i’ll be at the mall charging my phone…i’ll be in class charging my phone…i’ll be at work charging my phone! APPLE!! your such a rip off!! cheap ass battery!! i bet they’re gonna come out with a extra battery charger that you can put on your phone like the iphone4s which is gonna cost like $400!!

  • Muslim.

    I have to charge my iphone for 24 for hours to reach 100% and ,battery dies in 12 ores.AND I JUST BOUGHT IT.I HOPE ITS GONNA GET BATTER >.<