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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I'm heavily invested in Apple's 'ecosystem'...
Assuming the second iPhone 6S isn't defective, it seems to me that there must be some unusual drain involving radio communications.
I forgot to mention iCloud as a possibility. I'm not sure whether iCloud sync, etc., is noted in Apple's battery usage report in Settings, but it could be a big factor if you've bought into the modern Apple "ecosystem."
 


Being in a fringe-reception area for your carrier or frequently passing through carrier "dead spots" also will chew up battery time as the phone resorts to less-efficient radios or constantly trying to touch a tower.
Also, how are notifications and background refreshes set? In my experience, every iOS app assumes I'm breathlessly awaiting every morsel of information it can provide. :-p
I don’t think it’s to do with dead spots. As I said, the drain is pretty constant, and the place I spend most time has both good Wi-Fi and good 4G.

Background app refresh is on but selectively for apps that need to refresh in the background (such as tado°, which uses location to manage my heating). My partner’s phone - actually my old iPhone 6 - does not exhibit the same drain, and it uses the same apps in the background.

I’ve got few notifications set - not even app badges in most cases - and only for things like messages (not even email).
 


I forgot to mention iCloud as a possibility. I'm not sure whether iCloud sync, etc., is noted in Apple's battery usage report in Settings, but it could be a big factor if you've bought into the modern Apple "ecosystem."
I mentioned iCloud in my original post. I’ve a hunch this is involved, but it does not get reported in the battery usage report.

I’ll do some testing with various combinations of radios on and off and report back - most likely in a few days
 


Bernard H said:
I do use location services for geofencing
... I was originally told by Apple to switch off Wi-Fi when away from Wi-Fi networks and cellular data off when in range of one. It made no difference. ... Drain seems fairly constant(ly fast) no matter where I am.
Consider checking the apps that are using Location Services. That is, do you need all your apps to "Always" use location services? If no, then change those to "While Using the App" or "Never".

Also, consider checking the Cellular settings. Do all your apps need to have cell service? If not, turn those apps off.
 


Hardly any time on the phone most days - perhaps 15-20 minutes.
Yes. Another iPhone 6S.
Nothing stands out in the battery usage section: last 10 days...
Trying to chase down a battery hog, the "last 24 hours" is a more appropriate timescale. (10 days will include multiple recharges, but you will be looking for what is going on since the last charge to ID a culprit) and is similar with "Activity by App" versus the "Battery Usage" percentages. This screen only can get into "blame assignment" at the app level. The system, baseband radio, GPS (directly), etc. don't really show up here (other than the graph of battery level (vs. activity). If there's no app activity and the battery level is sliding down, then it is probably a low-level issue.

Bad LTE/cellular connections can drain the battery. The radio and tower are trying to figure out how to connect better and can't. Bluetooth... something trying to discover your phone when there is nothing to do. If not really using Bluetooth, try turning it all the way off (in Settings - the swipe-up control just 'snoozes it'). GPS? (Usually there is an app driving GPS but if you run out of culprits, look to see what has been running location services.)

If the cellular connection is spotty, another thing to do is turn off App Store updates over Cellular (if on).
Safari 17% (2h 13m on screen)
The screen is also a major [battery] consumer. The CPU could be almost asleep, but if the screen is super-bright and on, then battery will go down.
 


I mentioned iCloud in my original post. I’ve a hunch this is involved, but it does not get reported in the battery usage report.
You could test this by signing out of iCloud entirely on your phone for a 24-hour period and see how the battery drain behaves.
I know I was originally told by Apple to switch off Wi-Fi when away from Wi-Fi networks and cellular data off when in range of one. It made no difference. I’m not sure I’ve tried that with the new handset. Bluetooth is an option, though of course it’ll cut off the Apple Watch (which was changed from a Series 2 to Series 4 - non-cellular - during the saga.)
Of course, killing the radios is going to also not going to rule-out a data-induced error.
If you believe cellular signal-strength searching could be the culprit, then you could test that by disabling all cellular traffic for a 24-hour period. I don't think there's any way to do that in software, though. You can only disable cellular data in Settings. Just doing that would not prevent the radio from continuing to search for a signal for voice and text traffic. So, I think you would have to remove the SIM card entirely. Without a SIM, the cellular modem will not search for any signals. You could do that for a 24 hour period, relying only on WiFi for data (and no phone calls and texting), and see how that affects your battery drain. If it is, in fact, cellular signal strength searching, then your battery drain should be markedly reduced. If that's not the issue, then the WiFi data connectivity should still be sufficient to exacerbate the normal battery drain.

Bluetooth... something trying to discover your phone when there is nothing to do. If not really using Bluetooth, try turning it all the way off (in Settings - the swipe-up control just 'snoozes it'). GPS? (Usually there is an app driving GPS but if you run out of culprits, look to see what has been running location services.)
Yeah, same thing with these. Disable Bluetooth entirely for a 24 hour period and see how it goes. Disable Location Services for 24 hours and see how it goes.

Obviously, do each of the above tests one at a time.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
If you believe cellular signal-strength searching could be the culprit, then you could test that by disabling all cellular traffic for a 24-hour period.
Would Airplane Mode do that? I know it will disable GPS (e.g. location data in photos taken with the iPhone).
 


Would Airplane Mode do that? I know it will disable GPS (e.g. location data in photos taken with the iPhone).
The problem with Airplane Mode is that it will disable the WiFi and Bluetooth radios, too. We want to focus in specifically on the cellular modem searching and disable only that functionality, in order to isolate the troubleshooting.

And, as a side note, Airplane Mode no longer disables the GPS radio since iOS 8.3, since it is a reception radio only. (NFC radio also.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The problem with Airplane Mode is that it will disable the WiFi and Bluetooth radios, too.
Nope. I can enable Airplane mode and turn on WiFi, and Bluetooth, too (in the Control Center, using iOS 12.1.3). In fact, I have music playing over Bluetooth while writing this reply over WiFi with Airplane Mode enabled, so the Phone app won’t let me make a call.
 


Consider checking the apps that are using Location Services. That is, do you need all your apps to "Always" use location services? If no, then change those to "While Using the App" or "Never".
Also, consider checking the Cellular settings. Do all your apps need to have cell service? If not, turn those apps off.
A couple of apps have location services always on. More have cellular data on, but surely - given that the phone is usually in range of good Wi-Fi service for 95% of the time - they should not be using cellular data at all…
 



Since the iOS 12.1.3 update, I've experienced battery issues with my iPhone 6s Plus (which has 91% health) from freezing (I blame Darksky app satellite view) to having to set Low Power mode.

iPhone was at 7% battery remaining, so I shut off the phone. An hour later, had to turn it on (was not charging it), and it was now at 38% battery... wtf?

If I have one phone call at 5~10 minutes of talk, the battery will go down 10-15%. After three calls, I have to plug in. All this since iOS 12.1.3.

(I realize that cell tower range, wifi use, etc. play a part. But I have no apps running and mainly text or read emails during the day. Oh, and News app, but that is at home... and some Safari searches which use at most 20% in the battery app list.)
 


Nope. I can enable Airplane mode and turn on WiFi, and Bluetooth, too (in the Control Center, using iOS 12.1.3). In fact, I have music playing over Bluetooth while writing this reply over WiFi with Airplane Mode enabled, so the Phone app won’t let me make a call.
TIL. I had no idea that you could individually re-enable WiFi and Bluetooth after turning on Airplane mode, and that apparently that's always been possible with iOS. Anyway, yes, that sounds like it would be a good way to disable just the cellular radio then for testing.
 


... Hardly any time on the phone most days - perhaps 15-20 minutes.
Yes. Another iPhone 6S...
First thing to check is battery health. Use Coconut Battery to assess. (Lithium polymer batteries age; 3-4 years after manufacturing, capacity drops quickly.)

Then, during use, these are the key users of power in my experience:
- high screen brightness (fully turned up)​
- using a navigation app (constant screen updates and calculations)​
- being far away from the next GSM transceiver (high power needed to transmit)​
- having switched on and using WiFi, especially watching videos​
(Bluetooth does not use a lot of power.)

I hope that helps.
 


Bernard H said:
I do use location services for geofencing
. . . Apple Watch (which was changed from a Series 2 to Series 4 - non-cellular - during the saga.) . . . Drain seems fairly constant(ly fast) no matter where I am.
Since the Apple Watch is tied to the iPhone, it is possible that location services usage on your Apple Watch drains the battery on your iPhone. See some old articles . . .
Apple Watch draining iPhone battery really fast (read the original poster's finding at the end of the thread)​
Also, if your Apple Watch is still under warranty, consider contacting Apple for help.
 


Since the Apple Watch is tied to the iPhone, it is possible that location services usage on your Apple Watch drains the battery on your iPhone. See some old articles . . .
Apple Watch draining iPhone battery really fast (read the original poster's finding at the end of the thread)​
Also, if your Apple Watch is still under warranty, consider contacting Apple for help.
Thanks. It’s worth looking into Watch-specific location issues. I don’t believe that it’s the source of the drain problem, however, as the phone+Watch combination worked fine to start with. It started draining fast with no change to software - except iOS updates - or hardware, and then maintained the drain when all the hardware (phone and Watch) was replaced (and the apps/OS were re-added from scratch). This smacks to me of data corruption or an issue with this handset that Apple’s not acknowledging.

I have been going through apps and limiting access to services (such as location) in various privacy settings, but so far there’s no appreciable difference (and everything did work to start with without having to alter very much at all from the defaults). There’s no app standing out in the battery utility as being a hog.
 


I’m on iOS 12.2 beta on an iPhone 6S. Since installing this beta, battery drain has been fierce. I use low-power mode most of the time. I don’t do phone calls, so my iPhone 6s is almost never used as a telephone. I was just charging it and grabbed it to look at some photos. That’s all I did. According to the Battery screen, it went from 95% to 72% in 11 minutes. That’s pretty grim.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
First thing to check is battery health. Use Coconut Battery to assess. (Lithium polymer batteries age; 3-4 years after manufacturing, capacity drops quickly.)
I'm seeing very inconsistent results from battery health reporting apps. A 3-year-old iPhone SE (erased and updated to iOS 12.1.4 today) shows 90% Maximum Capacity in Apple's Settings > Battery > Battery Health display, while both CoconutBattery and iMazing on the Mac first showed 75% capacity and then changed (after some iPhone use) to show 85%.
 


I’m on iOS 12.2 beta on an iPhone 6S. Since installing this beta, battery drain has been fierce. I use low-power mode most of the time. I don’t do phone calls, so my iPhone 6s is almost never used as a telephone. I was just charging it and grabbed it to look at some photos. That’s all I did. According to the Battery screen, it went from 95% to 72% in 11 minutes. That’s pretty grim.
Battery Health? Has your battery been replaced? Last year I took my wife's iPhone 6s into an Apple Store to get the $29 replacement. Turns out that phone's serial number was in the range where the battery was recalled and would be replaced for free.

Of course, I came back an hour later, and the phone had been damaged during battery replacement - so they gave me a refurbished phone.
 


Battery Health? Has your battery been replaced?
Battery Health is 94%. It was replaced by Apple just about a year ago (for 1000 baht, here in Thailand).

The rapid battery drain is recent.

When I got up this morning it was 100%. 20 minutes later it was 90%, and all I did was scroll through the morning's email.
 


More from my iPhone 6S saga:

I tried these combinations of radios over several days:

Bluetooth ON / WiFi ON / GSM OFF
Bluetooth OFF / WiFi ON / GSM OFF
Bluetooth ON / WiFi OFF / GSM OFF [though I did connect to a Mac's shared WiFi over Bluetooth]
Bluetooth OFF / WiFi ON / GSM ON
Bluetooth ON / WiFi OFF / GSM ON
Bluetooth OFF / WiFi OFF / GSM ON
I didn't notice any difference to battery drain speed over the whole of each day that I maintained the setting. This was after paring-back every app to use data over WiFi only and to not use location unless absolutely necessary. I also unset WiFi Assist and check that screen brightness is still set to auto (and that it's responding to ambient light). I went through the list of apps using iCloud Drive and switched-off access for most of them.

To put this in perspective, the actual usage by app over the final 24h period (well, over the 7h that the phone retained its charge) was:

Screen on: 1h 12m / Screen off: 18m

Safari: 18m on screen
Mail: 2m on screen - 3m background
Settings: 14m on screen [mostly checking battery!]
Photos: 1m background
Home & Lock
Screen: 15m on screen
SleepWatch: 1m on screen - 5m background
BBC News: 2m background
Revolut: 2m on screen
Phone: 8m on screen
Bear: 2m background
tado: 1m background
Camera: 1m on screen
Reminders: 1m on screen
App Store: 2m background
+ a few other apps with a minute of screen time each
I would say that there is nothing that stands out as a battery hog and would also say that this is very modest usage. (It's so modest because I barely use the phone for fear I might drain its battery precipitately.)
I emphasise that this is the same model of phone (with a 100% Max Capacity battery supporting Peak Performance Capability) that was replaced by Apple a couple of months back after the one in which they replaced the battery showed the same drain (before and after that battery replacement), but which had worked perfectly for several years prior.

Finally, today, I signed-out of iCloud and switched on all radios [including leaving my Watch connected over Bluetooth] without altering any of the revised settings that I refer to above. It's only been 3 hours, but where I'd normally expect to be hovering around 50-60% battery I have 87% remaining.

So far usage looks like this:

Screen on: 39m / Screen off: 1m
Settings: 5m on screen - 3 minutes background
Home & Lock
Screen: 4m on screen
Bear: 9m on screen
Calendar: 1m background
Independent: 1m on screen
Messages: 5m on screen
BBC News: 1m on screen
Spam Drain: 1m on screen / 3m background
Mail: 1m on screen
Reminders: 1m on screen
I would say that it's too early to draw a definite conclusion, but even on the aggregate app screen time totalling 40m today and 90m yesterday [with ~45% to 13% drain] I think this points clearly to iCloud having a problem.

Next step will be to selectively turn on iCloud services to see what triggers the drain. Watch this space!
 


More from my iPhone 6S saga:
....
Next step will be to selectively turn on iCloud services to see what triggers the drain. Watch this space!
Good analysis, and very useful - thanks for reporting on this.

I noticed a bit of a drain with my iPhone SE (with recently replace battery) lately, and I'm thankful someone has the time and patience to share their findings and solutions.
 


I have only seen abnormal iPhone battery drain when my first phone’s battery was a couple of years old and beginning to fail. I have always limited my iCloud-on settings to Mail, Contacts, Reminders, Notes, Safari (I mostly use Firefox), Health, and Game Center (one game played very occasionally when in the Transit system). Find my Phone is also on.

iCloud Backup, Siri, Wallet, News, Calendars, and Photos are all off. Automatic downloads for Apps, Music, and Updates are all turned off. “Offload unused apps” is off. The battery-draining culprit may be among those, with iCloud Backup and Photos maybe at the top of the suspect list.

Checking my settings just now, I see that I have Messages turned off for iCloud as well, probably because turning it on would require 2-factor authentication.
 


I have only seen abnormal iPhone battery drain when my first phone’s battery was a couple of years old and beginning to fail. I have always limited my iCloud-on settings to Mail, Contacts, Reminders, Notes, Safari (I mostly use Firefox), Health, and Game Center (one game played very occasionally when in the Transit system). Find my Phone is also on. iCloud Backup, Siri, Wallet, News, Calendars, and Photos are all off. Automatic downloads for Apps, Music, and Updates are all turned off. “Offload unused apps” is off. The battery-draining culprit may be among those, with iCloud Backup and Photos maybe at the top of the suspect list. Checking my settings just now, I see that I have Messages turned off for iCloud as well, probably because turning it on would require 2-factor authentication.
I daresay you're right that those services consume battery, but my overriding point is that if Apple provides [sells] the service, the software, and the hardware, they ought to work in harmony without undue battery drain. Mine used to work without needing to tinker with settings.

The aim of my testing is not to switch off that service permanently, but to ask Apple to investigate what's causing it to use so much energy (and to fix it).

Personally, I couldn't do without iCloud Backup or Photos. The whole point, so far as I am concerned, is that these both maintain the integrity of my data, so that I can restore in the event of a catastrophe.

I don't quite get your point about 2-factor authentication. Surely that's a good thing?
 


In my quest to find the battery drain culprit, I have a some questions:
  • Why does Reminders appears twice in iCloud settings? On both my iPad and iPhone (12.1.4) Reminders appears under both 'Apps Using iCloud' and 'iCloud Drive'.
  • Why would Maps appear on the iPad under 'iCloud Drive' but not at all on the iPhone when both have the app installed? For comparison, of the default apps, Books appears on both devices.
  • Why would the Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive apps need to access iCloud Drive?
 


I have a perplexing problem and would be grateful for others' experiences and/or recommendations. ... I'm heavily invested in Apple's 'ecosystem', but I am loath in these circumstances simply to buy a new iPhone because there's no guarantee that anything will change.
I forgot to mention iCloud as a possibility. I'm not sure whether iCloud sync, etc., is noted in Apple's battery usage report in Settings, but it could be a big factor if you've bought into the modern Apple "ecosystem."
other notes said:
I have reached an impasse with this. Logging out of iCloud improves battery life massively. Logging in again restores the fast drain.

When logged in, no combination of apps or services on/off makes much difference to the speed of drain. As I said before, none of the radio on/off combinations makeS any difference.

Compare these: Yesterday I saw my phone go from 70% to completely dead in around 4 hours. I barely used it. This morning, I switched off iCloud and just added my iCloud account (under 'add account') for email, calendars and reminders. It started at 100%. 4 hours later, it's at 94%

This is not scientific, because I have not gone into detail over app usage etc., but it certainly shows there's an issue (and I can see tales on Reddit of battery woes with the iPhone 6S).

My best guess - looking back over my experience - is that this all started with iOS 11 and has become worse with iOS 12. Whether it's battery management or something to do with iCloud Drive (even when it's supposedly switched-off, but the account is logged-in) I don't know.

It would be very interesting to know if anyone else here who has an iPhone 6S and has battery problems finds that logging out of iCloud resolves them.

Meanwhile, I have gone back to Apple, but I'm not holding my breath!
 


Compare these: Yesterday I saw my phone go from 70% to completely dead in around 4 hours. I barely used it. This morning, I switched off iCloud and just added my iCloud account (under 'add account') for email, calendars and reminders. It started at 100%. 4 hours later, it's at 94%
I'd be interested in the following information for further diagnosis:

1. When it's in high drain operation, does the phone get noticeably warm?

2. Just before it dies in the 4 hour drain period, what does the Battery settings say is the highest battery consumer?

3. When it is in high drain mode, what is the status of location services usage? Is the black arrow constantly visible in the upper-right corner? Is it an arrow outline? Or is there no arrow?

4. What happens if you have iCloud signed in like normal (what would normally cause high battery drain), but you turn off all radios? That is, Airplane mode without re-enabling any radios, effectively cutting the phone off from the Internet? Does it still drain within 4 hours? I'm curious if the iCloud services are doing internal stuff that is draining the battery, or if they're doing something that generates a lot of network activity or something that at least requires network connectivity to drain the battery.
 


I'd be interested in the following information for further diagnosis:

1. When it's in high drain operation, does the phone get noticeably warm?

2. Just before it dies in the 4 hour drain period, what does the Battery settings say is the highest battery consumer?

3. When it is in high drain mode, what is the status of location services usage? Is the black arrow constantly visible in the upper-right corner? Is it an arrow outline? Or is there no arrow?

4. What happens if you have iCloud signed in like normal (what would normally cause high battery drain), but you turn off all radios. That is, Airplane mode without re-enabling any radios, effectively cutting the phone off from the Internet? Does it still drain within 4 hours? I'm curious if the iCloud services are doing internal stuff that is draining the battery, or if they're doing something that generates a lot of network activity or something that at least requires network connectivity to drain the battery.
1. No. It’s no different to normal temperature.
2. Mail. Usage of 4m on screen, 6m background. (Compare this to today: Mail still at the top of the list 20% / 6m on / 5m background; 100% at 08:00 57% now: 11h 20m later.)
3. It varies with app use as I’d expect and I’ve restricted to bare necessities (mostly for geofencing). Since these apps don’t rely on iCloud, I still have the same settings with my reduced drain.
4. I haven’t tried this. I’ll give it a go and report back…
 


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