Today I’m returning to a subject that I first discussed with my Forbes colleague, Gordon Kelly, earlier this year. It was shortly after I upgraded to iOS 13 that I noticed my iPhone SE was draining its battery in around a couple of hours and becoming almost hot enough to fry an egg on.

After endless hours attempting to track down buggy apps and doing other things, like turning off all iCloud syncing and disabling GPS, Siri and mobile data, I was still no further along the path of energy-draining enlightenment. After a month or two, my iPhone started crashing and going from 100% battery charge to almost 0% in a matter of seconds. It even began happening with the power cable plugged in overnight. I would wake up to a dead phone and it would take all manner of restarts and combinations of button presses to get my phone working again. Even my car doesn’t refuse to start like that in the mornings, and I’ve had some very ropey old cars in the past.

So, what to do? How to solve this battery crisis without resorting to buying a new phone? The reason I didn’t want to get a new phone yet is that my iPhone SE is ideal for my hand size and it has a headphone socket, which is very useful for someone who tests and reviews a lot of earphones. I also have some disability issues and having a phone I can type on with one hand is very… um… handy. Plus, I always buy my phones outright and making them last longer is much better for the environment instead of upgrading each year.

However, the problem got so bad I decided that I needed to visit the Apple Store and consult a genius. It just so happens that my local Apple Store, here in Bath, has recently reopened. I booked a Genius Bar appointment online and a week later I was having my temperature taken and being briefed about social distancing and told not to get too close to the genius. I was then issued with a paper face mask and made my way to the back of the store where a young gentleman was waiting for me at the Genius Bar, ready to deal with my problem.

After a short while, both the Genius and I agreed that we should try a new battery in my iPhone. I went off in search of a coffee and waited while the battery replacement was carried out. It took less than an hour and my iPhone SE was returned to me all sparkly and shiny, and with a new battery on board. Excellent service from the Apple Store and a reasonable cost at £49 (around $60).

The first thing I noticed, once I’d given my iPhone an overnight charge, was that it no longer crashed all the time. The second thing I noticed was that the battery charge was holding up considerably better than before but it still wasn’t as good as it had been before “upgrading” to iOS 13. Now I’m left wondering whether the new iOS is straining the SE’s CPU just a bit too much. I had heard rumors before the release of iOS 13, that the iPhone SE and iPhone 6S weren’t going to be supported with the new system. Can you imagine the outrage that would have occurred if Apple had ruled out including those two models e, both of which were on sale in Apple Stores until fairly recently? Owners would rightly have been angry at having their iPhones made obsolete so soon after purchase.

Could this be the reason why my iPhone SE no longer has a great battery life or why it gets so damn hot when I’m browsing certain websites with videos running and lots of complicated layouts? I think is probably the worst offender. It makes my SE almost too hot to hold. Maybe my phone is trying to tell me something about the site’s content and would rather I didn’t visit the Daily Mail’s “Sidebar of Shame”.

Since getting a new battery, I’ve tried all sorts of solutions to improve my phone’s battery life. I’ve turned off iCloud syncing, GPS, mobile data, Siri and Background App Refresh. I’ve made sure that I don’t have too many apps open at once. I’ve mainly been using Safari, Twitter and Mail, and yet still the phone gets really hot and still the battery percentage ticks down like a clock of doom. I despair of ever getting the battery life I once enjoyed. I know it’s not a big deal, especially during these times when we have other far more important issues to consider such as a rampant virus and civil unrest. However, I think lots of other people must be having similar issues and I would be interested to know how widespread the problem is.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to have to upgrade to one of the new iPhone SEs. Maybe the 128GB variation in black. It will probably be a bit too large for my liking, and I imagine the absence of a headphone socket is going to cause a few problems, but at least I’ll be able to leave the house without having to carry around a bunch of power banks to see me through a full working day.


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