Apple touts some impressive specs for the battery in the iPhone—up to eight hours of talk time, 250 hours of standby time, six hours of internet use, seven hours of video playback, and a full day of audio playback. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t list the battery life for a particular situation that I run into about twice a year: battery life during periods of extended redialing.
You see, twice a year I sign my daughters up for classes at the local recreation center. We’ve generally got an excellent parks and recreation program here in the Pacific Northwest, but registration for classes is somewhat of a nightmare. Registration opens in phases—phone lines first, internet second, and fax/in person third. The phone lines open up at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday, followed two hours later by internet registration. The problem with the phone-in registration is that it seems Parks & Rec has one phone line and one registration attendant, but no hold queue. As you might expect, with 80,000 parents calling to register their children for activities, busy signals are the norm during the phone-in portion of the registration. If you wait until 10:00 a.m. for Internet registration, however, some of the most popular classes may already be filled. So you really want to get through on the phone.
To up my odds this time out, I put two phone lines to use. In my left hand, I held our household phone. In my right, my iPhone. With the rec center numbers programmed into both phones, I sat down and waited for 8:00 a.m., with my fingers posed over the dial button on each phone. Ready… set… go! It took a bit of time to get the finger process down, but soon, I had both phones dialing and redialing like crazy. Interestingly, the iPhone is much faster at dialing and terminating a call than is our landline. I could make somewhere between two and three attempts on the iPhone for each one attempt on the landline.
Minute after minute, I redialed and redialed and redialed. Soon a minute turned into five minutes, then 10 minutes, then 30 minutes, then an hour. With nothing much to do other than punch buttons, my mind soon started thinking about how many calls I was making—I could make somewhere around 15 calls a minute between the two phones. After 60 minutes, I was at 900 attempted calls—and not one got through! As the second hour started, I noticed that both phones’ battery indicators were reflecting the stress of the activity; they had both dropped notably from their full starting points.
Still getting nothing but busy signals, I kept redialing for another 45 minutes, until 9:45 a.m. At that time, the iPhone alerted me that I was down the final 20 percent of the battery life. This is when I decided to just give up and wait for Internet registration to open in 15 minutes—with more than 1,500 attempts made, all I had to show for it was sore fingers and a permanently ingrained memory of the standard busy signal tone.
Extrapolating from my 80-percent battery usage in one hour and 45 minutes, I can say that the expected battery life of an iPhone (approaching one year of age) used under “maximum redialing conditions” is somewhere just over two hours. Apple, feel free to quote me on that one.
Though this is far from typical usage, I was impressed with the iPhone during this long exercise in frustration—the iPhone was much easier to redial than my home phone, it never once crashed or otherwise failed to act like a phone, and it didn’t get overly warm to the touch. After a recharge session, it was back to its normal usably-long-battery-life self.
And, for the record, when Internet registration opened, I was able to register the girls for our preferred swim classes… whew.