iOS 15.4 update prompting reports of battery drain problems

If you own a compatible iPhone then the iOS 15.4 update should now be available to you, complete with new emojis, the ability to use Face ID with a mask, and a host of bug fixes. However, there might be a problem with the latest software upgrade too: battery drain.

As reported by Phone Arena and others, a certain subsection of users on Twitter and Reddit are saying that their handsets have been losing battery life much more quickly since the iOS 15.4 update was applied.

One Reddit thread seems to be split more or less half and half with users reporting better or worse battery life, while another describes “horrible battery drain” in recent days. In a separate thread on Reddit a user reports the battery “draining more than usual”.

Not universal

There are similar messages cropping up on Twitter too, with one tweet reporting “absolutely ridiculous” battery drain, another suggesting it's “really bad” and a third tweet saying iOS 15.4 is “killing the battery” of an iPhone 13 Pro Max model.

At the moment there's no clear pattern in terms of which particular iPhones are affected: though we have seen quite a few posts mentioning the latest iPhone 13 models, others refer to older editions of Apple's flagship smartphone.

This is by no means a universal problem, with other Reddit threads and Twitter posts reporting better battery life since the iOS 15.4 patch was applied. It seems fair to say that there's a mixed bag of responses to the latest iOS update so far.


Analysis: don't panic just yet

There are a few certainties in life, including death, taxes, and reports of excessive battery drain after a new iOS update. At this stage we would have been more surprised if there hadn't been complaints about iOS 15.4 and battery life in the first few days.

So far the only official response from Apple has been to tell users to sit tight, and to assure them that variations in battery life are normal for up to 48 hours after a new version of the operating system is installed. A lot of the time, these issues will then settle down.

Not only does an iOS update need time to evaluate what it's working with on a particular iPhone – and how to optimize the battery accordingly – third-party developers also need time to make sure their apps are working with rather than against the latest iOS.

With that in mind, we'd expect most of these issues to clear up within the next few days. It's not clear just how widespread the issue is, but if you are affected then keep a close eye on battery usage in the coming week.

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Windows 11’s new feature is good news for your laptop battery

Windows 11 has just given the Task Manager a smart new feature to tame apps which are being resource hogs, something that could help, well, everyone of course, but especially laptop users thanks to ensuing battery life benefits.

Note that this change is just in preview right now, with the new Build 22557 deployed to testers earlier this week, which comes complete with a host of useful moves, including a revamp of the Task Manager.

You may recall that the Task Manager has been given a makeover to bring its appearance more in line with Windows 11’s sleeker and modern look, plus a honed interface, but there’s another big introduction in Build 22557 and that’s Efficiency mode.

The idea with this feature is that when you spot an app which is using a ton of system resources (CPU, GPU, memory, or maybe all of them!) in the Task Manager, rather than killing it to free resources – which you may not want to do, or could have unfortunate consequences – you can switch it to operate in Efficiency mode.

As Microsoft makes clear, this will push the application in question right down the priority list when it comes to system resource allocation, thereby taming its resource usage, making your PC more responsive – if it was chugging under the weight of that particular workload – and providing better energy-efficiency.

Windows 11 Task Manager Efficiency Mode

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Apps or services which are in Efficiency mode will be marked with a small leaf icon, with suspended apps having a pause icon (as seen in the above screenshot).

Note that some processes may not be eligible for Efficiency mode, like core Windows services for example, where deprioritizing them could actually affect system performance negatively and slow your machine down. In these cases, the option to turn on Efficiency mode will be greyed out, ensuring you can’t do any harm when playing with this new tool.


Analysis: Microsoft is taking it slowly with Efficiency mode

Efficiency mode will doubtless prove a useful ability for Windows 11 users whose machines are running sluggishly thanks to an app which is dominating resource usage, as it makes it easy to tame such a process without having to entirely dump it.

As we mentioned at the outset, it’ll likely be a particularly valuable asset for those running Windows 11 on a laptop, where overly demanding applications don’t just slow down the system, but spike power usage and therefore drain more battery. With these kinds of programs tamed via Efficiency mode, users can expect to have more overall battery life, one of the prime concerns for mobile computing.

As noted, this is just in testing right now, but it’s not available to all testers just yet, and is rolling out to a small number of Windows Insiders to begin with. Microsoft sounds like it’s taking this one cautiously and is going to “monitor feedback and see how it lands before pushing it out to everyone.”

We can expect Efficiency mode to debut with Windows 11 22H2 when it arrives in the second half of this year.

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Microsoft Teams will no longer suck up so much of your battery life

Using Microsoft Teams may no longer be such a drain on your laptop battery life thanks to a series of updates to the platform.

The video conferencing software will now require up to 50% less power to run during “energy-intensive” scenarios such as multi-person meetings than it did 18 months ago, Microsoft has revealed.

This is thanks to a series of changes and optimizations that should mean an end to battery-sapping video calls that can leave remote workers scrambling for their charger, or being forced to go on mute as their work laptop fans kick into overdrive.

Microsoft Teams battery life

“One of the challenges brought on by the ubiquity of Teams is the need to create equitable experiences across an incredibly diverse Windows device ecosystem,” Microsoft's Robert Aichner wrote in a blog post outlining a series of improvements made since June 2020.

Aichner noted that the moves should also allow users on low-end devices to have a much better experience running Microsoft Teams, meaning no one should suddenly drop out on calls, and ensure Teams meetings are as energy-efficient as possible, regardless of setup.

This has been a long process, with Microsoft continuing to optimize Teams as user numbers boomed during the pandemic amid work from home orders.

This has included camera optimization tools to reduce the demands on using video in meetings, with tweaks such as improving configurations, reducing code complexity for auto-exposure, auto-white balance, auto-aliasing, resulting in power draw reduction from the onboard camera and stability enhancements, and face detection processes.

Microsoft has also consolidated and improved video rendering, particularly in multi-person video meetings where different participants may join with wildly different video streams due to variations in hardware. This initially meant that a nine-person call using a 3×3 video grid required nine distinct rendering operations, but Microsoft combined the streams and composed them into a single video, significantly reducing the power requirements for each device used.

More recently, Microsoft Teams has also been allowed to tap into a device’s GPU to support improved rendering performance, which has recently been expanded to the user's video preview as well.

Aichner adds that this is not the end for Teams optimization, and the company hopes to continue to release new features and improvements for some time to come.

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MacBook battery problems? macOS Monterey 12.2 could be to blame

The macOS Monterey 12.2 update was released on January 26, and some users are already reporting issues, with reports that BlueTooth accessories connected to the device are seemingly causing it to wake from sleep mode, draining battery life that would have otherwise been preserved.

As reported by MacRumors, it's unclear how widespread the issue currently is, but there have been several posts across social media sites like Twitter and Reddit during the last few days that would indicate this isn't an isolated incident.

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While no official statement has been made from Apple, those affected have claimed that their Mac's battery life drops from 100% to 0% while left in sleep mode overnight, something that wasn't occurring prior to updating to macOS 12.2. 

After some investigation, users like @Jpavao found that Bluetooth accessories are apparently causing the Macs to repeatedly wake from sleep mode, which drains the battery over the course of several hours. All fingers point to the latest update being responsible as both older Intel-based Macs and newer M1-powered devices appear to be affected. 

Disabling the Bluetooth on the device or disconnecting all accessories connected via Bluetooth prior to placing the Mac into sleep mode seems to work as a quick fix, though this obviously isn't ideal if you have to set up your mouse, keyboard and headset every morning, especially if you use the MacBook for work.

Apple also made the beta version of Monterey 12.3 available to developers last week, though no mentions were made that refer to a fix within the notes, so it's unclear if the issue will be resolved when this update is pushed live for all macOS users or if another solution is in the works. We've reached out to Apple for clarification.


Analysis: keep calm and carry on

It's understandable that you might feel wary regarding upgrades when you see stories like this circulating, but we would always recommend that you keep your device up to date with the latest patches to help with security and app compatibility. Any problems that arise after an update, regardless of a system being Windows or macOS, are usually swiftly corrected.

It's important to remember though, that updates are likely never going to be a universal 'fix-all' for every user. In fact, the patch to fix this Bluetooth issue could just as likely cause problems for a handful of users who were not previously experiencing any. The risks of using an outdated operating system also far outweigh the risks that come with updating to the latest version though, so it isn't worth avoiding the upgrade to Monterey 12.2 if you've been putting it off.

It's not unusual for software updates and patches to cause additional issues that require additional work down the line. It's certainly a nuisance for those affected by the problem, but there are several workarounds that will help tide things over, such as leaving your MacBook charging overnight or disconnecting any Bluetooth accessories, until Apple can officially patch out the battery drain.

Make sure you check out our macOS Monterey problems guide for more advice on fixing issues with Apple's latest operating system.

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This rugged smartphone has a massive 10,000mAh battery and it’s on sale right now

The presence of a large battery in a modern smartphone often means you'll have to compromise on other features; but not so with the Oukitel WP6. You've probably never heard of the brand, but we reviewed one of its rugged smartphones back in 2018 (the WP2) if you want to get a feel for the devices.

The WP6 is available in both orange and black for $ 213.59 (£243.99/AU$ 443.78) at AliExpress. Despite its entry-level status, it sports some rather high-end features, such as 6GB of RAM and 128GB onboard storage.

It also boasts a 6.3-inch display with a 1080 x 2340 pixel resolution, which is higher than most laptops.

Another notable feature is its massive 10,000mAh battery – one of the largest we’ve seen in a rugged smartphone. With an 18W charger, you should be able to fill it up fairly quickly, and you can also use the WP6 as an emergency portable battery charger if you get caught short.

It also features an eight-core Mediatek Helio P70 CPU, 48-megapixel Sony camera sensor, IP68 rating, 16-megapixel front facing camera and Android 9.0.

It's worth noting, the device doesn't support wireless charging nor NFC, and we wouldn’t count on Oukitel to provide more than one Android update. 

If you're after an alternative, the Blackview BV9100 has an even bigger battery (13000mAh) and NFC, but costs more and has a significantly inferior set of components (slower CPU, a third less memory, half the storage, and a lesser camera sensor).

Bear in mind

  • If this product comes from mainland China, it will take at least a month to reach either the US or UK (and potentially more). You may be levied a tax either directly or through the courier.
  • If you've managed to get hold of a cheaper product with equivalent specifications, in stock and brand new, let us know and we'll tip our hat to you.

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