iPhone OS 4 Upgrade: One Month Later
Over a month has passed since I upgraded my iPhone 3Gs to OS 4. There are a couple of significant issues that I noticed. First, the battery life – not particularly impressive to begin with – got shorter. Before I used to get through the day on one charge. I only charged my iPhone overnight. Now, in addition to the nightly charge, I find I need to use the car charger on the way from work to keep the iPhone alive. Since there have been no changes in how I use my iPhone, I have to assume OS 4 causes iPhone to consume more power.
This is not very surprising: OS 4 introduced true multitasking to the iPhone. Various applications now run in the background, inevitably draining power. I am sure the problem is compounded by the fact that most third-party iPhone apps were written without consideration for power consumption in a multitasking operating environment. I noticed that certain apps – especially GPS-enabled ones – continue draining power even when running in background.
This brings me to the second major issue: GPS-enabled applications got very power hungry. Navigon MobileNavigator, that got high marks in my original review, became a serious power hog. When this application is running – in foreground or background – iPhone gets noticeably warm. Very warm. However, I observe the same issue with iPhone’s stock GPS navigation app, as well as with many other GPS-intensive programs.
Following the upgrade my iPhone got a little slower. This was also expected: whenever you get a new user feature – especially as significant as multitasking – there will always be a drop in performance and stability. One also has to acknowledge that, after all, OS 4 was made for the more capable iPhone 4 and not so much for 3Gs. Still, it is sad to see Apple dealing with coding quality issues primarily by throwing more hardware resources at the problem.
It would have been nice to see Apple add an option to kill all background applications with a single click, instead of tediously tapping on each running application. Such functionality is already available for jailbroken OS 4. This would have been a great time and battery saver for me.
Aside from battery life, another serious consideration is data usage. Many iPhone apps continue accessing online data even when running in the background. This is not an issue for me – I got my unlimited data plan from AT&T when it was still unlimited. For those unfortunate iPhone owners who signed up since June 2010 the situation is a bit different. Even if you have AT&T’s “DataPro” plan (2Gb for $25/mo), you may be looking at some serious overage charges. I am not even talking about iPad or tethering users – they are major league screwed. This is not 1990s and 2Gb is really not a whole lot.
I can’t imagine Apple is too happy with AT&T’s data plan shenanigans, as it has to have a significant dampening effect on the iPhone 4 and iPad sales. In fact, this is the only reason why I did not buy an iPad. I already had my wallet in hand ready to head out to the nearest Apple store, when a friend broke the bad news. And now Verizon seems set on ending the unlimited data plan for its Droids in a few months. What the world is coming to… And now that 4G networks are popping up here and there, cell phone users can download more data faster. Wait a minute, do you suppose there’s a pattern here? Like, hook people up on an addictive product and then raise the prices. I knew this dude back in the days, he had a similar marketing strategy. Different product though. Didn’t end well.