I’ve been an iPhone loyalist ever since I ditched my BlackBerry in college, but the newest iPhone battery problem is making me seriously consider switching to Android for the first time.
Over the past few weeks, a ton of iPhone users have reported that their phones shut off randomly with about 30% battery left.
I’m one of them.
In my case, my iPhone 6s will turn off with around 30-40% battery remaining, and will act like it’s run out of battery. To fix the issue, I have to plug my phone in for a bit, which will promptly show me that, miraculously, I still have 30% battery life left.
If I don’t have access to a charger and an outlet, my phone sits in my pocket like a brick.
This problem has been a constant source of frustration.
I try to keep my phone plugged in at work, but there are times I’m out and about, and it gets into the danger zone. The instances it has actually shut off have been bad timing. Here are a few: When I was trying to remember exactly which apartment my friend lived in; when I was in the process of meeting friends at a bar; and when I was looking for an event space in an unfamiliar part of town — in the pouring rain.
For my job, I use on my iPhone to conduct interviews and take photos, and earlier this week I had to rely on the kindness of a stranger for the latter when I was reporting. It was not an ideal situation.
The bottom line: Perhaps it speaks to my reliance on technology, but this shutdown bug is stressing me out.
What’s Apple doing?
Apple’s stores have been swamped with complaints about batteries shutting down, according to employees interviewed by Business Insider.
Before many of the media reports, I went to an Apple Store to try and get the problem resolved. The Genius there ran diagnostics and told me it wasn’t a hardware issue, and to do a factory reset on my phone. That didn’t help.
Then in November, Apple announced there was a hardware problem on some iPhone 6s’s, made between September and October 2015, that caused them to shut down unexpectedly. “Hooray!” I thought. I bought my iPhone in December 2015, so that seemed like potentially the right timing. I contacted Apple only to be informed that my serial number was not in the list. I was out of luck.
On December 6, Apple said it would include “additional diagnostic capability” in a new iOS update, to see if anything could be done on a software level to help the unexpected shutdown problem some were experiencing.
“This will allow us to gather information over the coming weeks which may potentially help us improve the algorithms used to manage battery performance and shutdown,” Apple’s statement said. “If such improvements can be made, they will be delivered in future software updates.”
So now I have to wait and see if Apple will figure out whether there is a software fix for the problem. Meanwhile, my one-year warranty is coming up at the end of December. My last step will be to go to the Apple Store and beg them to replace my phone before the warranty runs out. We’ll see if that works.
But even if Apple replaces my phone, this experience has made me realize that I might want to look beyond the iPhone next time it’s time to buy a new phone.
I’ve tested a few Android phones before and have enjoyed a bunch of aspects of them. (Here’s a post from my colleague Antonio Villas-Boas about the ways in which the Google Pixel is better than the iPhone, and includes a few points I agree with).
The main thing keeping me in my iPhone is the ecosystem of apps, and the integration with other Apple products.
I love using iMessage on my MacBook Air, and using AirDrop to easily move files between devices. But Apple isn’t offering a real laptop option below $1,000, and when my mid-2012 MacBook Air finally runs out of juice, I’m considering getting something else — maybe even a Chromebook, if a compelling new slate rolls out. I’m simply not sure I need a shiny, expensive laptop anymore.
And if it’s just a smartphone conversation, what am I missing by switching to Android? Sure, there are a few quirks of Android I don’t like, but I need a phone that doesn’t shut down prematurely, all the time. That’s more important.
Since my serial number is outside the set that Apple acknowledges has a problem, Apple hasn’t really given me a choice but to look elsewhere. Apple’s new diagnostic capability in iOS could potentially help this issue, but Apple’s statements — which exclude and debase anyone with a non-working iPhone that doesn’t have the right serial number — leave a lot to be desired when it comes to taking responsibility.
It’s time to take stock of my options, and when I look around, it occurs to me that I’m not as locked into the Apple world as I thought.