PC Magazine predicts when your iPhone will die; Mass hysteria sure to follow - Macenstein

PC Magazine predicts when your iPhone will die; Mass hysteria sure to follow

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

I’m not sure why, exactly, but people are obsessed with the idea of their iPhone’s battery dying. Somehow, just because you can’t swap it out as easily as a conventional phone’s battery, people feel that in 2 or 3 years, when the rechargeable battery eventually gives up the ghost, you will have to throw your iPhone away. This seems a bit alarmist to me, as someone who has replaced iPod batteries in the past (with minimal hassle and negligible cost) but such is the media hype machine.

For those of you who want to start planning fro the end, faithful Macenstein reader meggert alerted us that PC Magazine has created an iPhone Death Watch countdown. Simply enter the date on which you purchased your iPhone, and they will tell you the exact second your iPhone’s battery will die.

In order to create this highly-sophisticated program (ie, javascript calendar calculator), they figured out what they consider to be “typical” iPhone use, calculated how long the battery lasts before needing a recharge during such use, and then figured how long it would take for the phone to need the 450 or so recharges they figure will kill the battery (of course, that number is entirely pulled out of their you-know-whats. All Apple has said is after 400 charges the iPhone’s battery should hold a 80% charge. For all we know, it could hold a 75% charge after 550 charges).

So what?

The reason I personally don’t care about iPhone battery life is three-fold.

First, they estimate the battery will last 675 days. That’s nearly 2 years from now, and I (like many of the first iPhone adopters) fully anticipate buying the next model iPhone before those 2 years are up. We early adopters are gadget-obsessed tech geeks, and for the most part, we won’t be able to sit idly by and watch our friend who wasn’t sure he wanted the original iPhone suddenly have a newer one than use with crazy new features (even if the only new feature is that it comes in white). We’re that bad.

Second, as I said, replacing the iPhone’s battery with a new one is not only relatively easy, but will likely be relatively cheap. The current do-it-yourself iPod battery kits cost between $29 and $39. Hardly a big deal.

Thirdly, lastly, whateverly, I currently STILL use a 4th gen iPod daily with its original battery. Sure, it only gets about 6 hours of continuous playback, but I think it only started at 11 hours over 3 years ago. Between home, work, and the car, I have a charger in all 3 locations I am likely to be in during any given 6 hour period. Same with the iPhone (which coincidentally uses the same chargers). So while I would like my iPhone to have the same battery life in 2 years that it did when I first bought it, I’m pretty sure I can live with a 70% charge if I can’t come up with $30 for a new one by 2009.

Start saving now!

In order to reach that goal of a new replacement battery in 675 days, I made my OWN sophisticated calculations. Apparently, I need to somehow save 4.5¢ a day for the next 675 days in order to get the $30 it should cost. If I am somehow able to come up with that kind of scratch, (maybe through working 2 jobs, or receiving an inheritance of some kind) then I should be set. But I urge all you iPhone-battery doom-sayers to start saving now! If you wait much longer, it will be up to 5¢ a day. You don’t want to get caught having to skip going to the movies 2-years from now so you can afford that battery. Who knows what summer 2009 blockbuster you might miss!

5 Responses to “PC Magazine predicts when your iPhone will die; Mass hysteria sure to follow”
  1. As usual, the PC FUD machine is in high gear! 🙂

  2. Dave M. says:

    First off, if you have seen the video’s of people tearing open their newly purchased iPhones, you will have seen that it’s a bit tricky to get into the thing without damaging it. I, for one, will never see myself replacing the battery on my iPhone myself.

    Apple’s price for replacing the battery and paying for a loaner is: $115.95. I’m not sure about the loaner phone, but if they do offer it, I am assuming $30.

    That comes out to a whopping 18¢ a day. Mind you, this is assuming that after 400 charges the battery dies.

    In reality, it’s supposed to take 400 complete drains to full charges to make the batter have 80% capacity. I don’t plan on taking my iPhone’s battery down that low very often. Once a month is good to make sure the battery keeps it’s lifespan nice and strong.

    400 * 30 days is 12,000 days. Or about 32.8 years. Somehow, I get the feeling that I won’t be using my current iPhone in 32 years. So I think I’ll not worry about it.

  3. Michael says:

    Here Here!

    I am so tired of hearing about how this battery is going to die on my in 2 years I can’t stand it. There is little to no chance that I’m going still have this iPhone in 2 years, and if I do, I’ll just send the thing off.

    It’s not the end of the world.

  4. Bob says:

    Dave M. is a little bit off on the concept of charge cycles, but basically correct on the principle. I figure that I need to save about 25¢ per charge cycle to have the battery replaced as soon as it reaches the mythical 80% of original capacity.

    Remember, a charge cycle isn’t necessarily completely draining the battery and charging it to full capacity at one go. It’s the equivalent, spread across however many smaller usage/charge cycles. For example, I expect to use 1/4 to 1/2 of a battery charge per day and to charge it every night. So that means that every two to four days of use and charging will equal one “charge cycle.” If my expectation is correct, it will take me between 800 and 1600 days to reach the 400 charge cycle milestone. Figure around 26 months to be conservative.

    The cost to replace the battery (assuming the iPhone is out of warranty/AppleCare Plan) is $89.95, plus 8.25% tax where I live. That’s $97.37 total, or a little over 24 cents each for 400 charge cycles. I’ll just throw a quarter a day into a bucket to cover inflation.

    I *don’t* recommend a DIY approach to replacing the battery though. It’s soldered into the iPhone and that’s more work and risk than I need to save a quarter a day two or three years from now.

  5. Fred Hamranhansenhansen says:

    Don’t you know if you invest that 4 cents per day in a 410k and you are under 30 you could make $112 by the time you retire?

    The best part of this particular FUD is that an iPhone battery that is holding only 80% of its original capacity will give you over 6 hours of talk time. The next best smart phone on the market only has 4 hours talk time brand new. So when this timer is up your iPhone is still outdistancing a Treo or Q or Nokia. The reason the iPhone battery is watch-maker replaceable not user replaceable is it makes up about 60% of the internal volume of the device, you open up an iPhone and there is a huge battery in there. The phone is built into the battery in a very real way.

    Also, the most modern batteries are lithium polymer which the iPhone uses, and a key feature of them is they’re sort of like a bag you fill with liquid battery, so when you are done designing your device you fill up the empty space inside with a battery “bag” and then fill it with as much battery as possible. Cover the grille on the iPhone speaker while it’s playing and you can hardly hear the audio, it doesn’t echo around inside the iPhone, which is filled up to the edges with battery. That is why it’s surprisingly heavy also, it’s packing twice the battery of other smart phones in addition to being half of their size.

    The way the 400 drains works is imagine you have 400 bottles of water in your kitchen and you carry one similar bottle with you every day, which you refill from the 400 bottles. If you use half a bottle of water today and refill it, and tomorrow use another half a bottle and refill it, now you have 399 bottles.

    If you are the kind of user who needs 20 hours per day then you can buy a second battery that plugs on the dock port and you make your iPhone slightly bigger but give it 20 hour talk time. The nice thing here is the iPhone does not have to be shutdown to take out its only battery and put in a replacement, you put the second battery on and when it’s drained you take it off and your iPhone still has a full internal charge.

    The worst part of this mean-spirited and highly inaccurate widget is that whoever made it probably has an iPod and a watch, which both already use this battery system in order to be smaller. Also, they probably pride themselves on being screwdriver guys, yet they are afraid to crack open their own iPhone and replace the battery? They’ll work with the Windows Registry, but not an iPhone battery, ha ha.

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