Undercharged: iPhone 14 owners complain about lower battery endurance

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2023

Owners of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are complaining about battery health -- but it's not at all clear yet if this is an actual issue. AppleInsider looks at the data.




Reports in August started to surface about battery issues for the current-gen iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro, with claims that the battery is degrading far quicker than it should be.

According to the various complaints, if you check the Battery Health & Charging section under Battery in the Settings app, the Maximum Capacity figure is a lot lower than people want it to be. While you could easily expect that the maximum capacity will go down over time, it's eroding a little too fast for some.

Is there an iPhone 14 battery problem?



A vocal group of iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro users have raised issues with the Maximum Capacity number, claiming that its dropping at a far faster rate than they would want. These complaints have surfaced on social media, and over the summer, have become more prominent.

In July, Apple Track's Sam Kohl pointed out via X that the capacity of his iPhone 14 Pro after less than a year of ownership is at 90%, deeming the number to be "actually unacceptable." John Rettinger passed comment in August, sharing that his iPhone 14 Pro Max, bought at launch, has a capacity of 90% too.

I've had my iPhone 14 Pro for LESS than a year this is actually unacceptable pic.twitter.com/rKkvW6Z60v

-- Sam Kohl (@iupdate)
Wall Street Journal

's Joanna Stern also chimed in during August, questioning why her iPhone 14 Pro is down to 88%, and an Apple Store Genius said that he personally had already hit 450 charge cycles. By contrast, a three-year-old iPhone 12 Pro held by Stern's wife was at 80% capacity, and her editor's two-year-old iPhone 13 Pro was at 90%.

Others have also pointed out low percentages, including The Verge's Tom Warren at 91% and Max Weinbach tweeting at 89%.

While these are prominent examples, there are many others on social media complaining about the Maximum Capacity for their iPhone 14-era smartphones. Excluding trolling responses, the typical query for those affected by this phenomenon is for a battery that's mid to low-90's in percent, or high 80's.

The general opinion is that the Maximum Capacity shouldn't be getting close to dipping down below 90% under a year after release. At least, that the percentages shouldn't be dropping at a rate faster than the batteries of earlier iPhone releases.

Apple's iPhone 14 battery expectations



Apple does attempt to set healthy expectations for the batteries in its devices, as outlined in its Battery Service and Recycling page.

For the iPhone, Apple insists the battery is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity after 500 complete charge cycles. By a complete charge cycle, that means effectively depleting the battery then recharging it to full capacity.

Apple's expectations are for an 80% battery capacity after 500 complete cycles
Apple's expectations are for an 80% battery capacity after 500 complete cycles



By comparison, the Apple Watch, MacBook, and iPad lines are thought to hold on to 80% after 1,000 complete charge cycles, while the iPod does so for 400 cycles.

Apple also includes a clear warning that if you "need to charge your battery more and more frequently, it might be time to service it," and to do so via Apple or an authorized service provider.

There's also a one-year warranty for the iPhone, which includes service coverage for a defective battery that's hit that 80% mark. AppleCare+ will extend this warranty out to two years for iPhones.

For out-of-warranty devices, there's a battery replacement service.

A common problem?



Failure rates for the total number of products manufactured is a bell curve. The early failures are numerically pretty low, with a peak at some point in the middle of the curve, followed by a slow rate as the population declines.

An example of a bell curve graph [Wikimedia]
An example of a bell curve graph [Wikimedia]



What varies between manufacturers and products is when the peak of failures lies in the timetable of the product. We have it on good authority that Apple has engineered the 80% battery depletion mark average -- meaning the peak of the bell curve -- at just over two years, and has for at least the last five years of iPhone models.

This means that an about-10% per-year depletion is normal, according to Apple.

For years, we've had access to a large amount of service data from within Apple's repair chain, and iPhone battery replacement rates are included in that set.

We've grouped battery replacements into two groups -- the iPhone 14 non-Pro models, and the two iPhone 14 Pro models in another group.

Instead of comparing per capita failure rates, we can compare total replacements, given that the total population of iPhones sold in that first year of live is a bit less in 2022 to 2023, than it was in 2021 to 2022.

For the lifetime of the iPhone 14 grouping and iPhone 14 Pro grouping, the number of battery failures, meaning that 80% threshold has been met, or Apple has decided to replace the battery in a response to a consumer complaint even if not at 80%, is a hair less than it has been in the past. This is consistent with what is believed to be a lower population of iPhone 14 models sold in total, than the iPhone 13 line.

The iPhone 14 Pro family has slightly more failures in total than the iPhone 14 grouping. It's also believed that the population to date of the iPhone 14 Pro models is higher than that of the iPhone 14.

If there was a massive problem, there would be a giant deviation in the failure quantity, and a corresponding large deviation from that bell curve. To date, there is not that giant deviation in any iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro model.

It's still early in the device's life, though, and the iPhone 14 is still on the left side of the bell curve. We'll revisit this in about six months.

How a battery works, and what's happening

AppleInsider

has previously covered what happens to a battery to cause wear and tear, and how to care for the battery life.

In short, lithium-ion batteries use an anode and a cathode separated by a generally flammable electrolyte, with charged atoms moving from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte. This process frees electrons, which return to the cathode, completing the circuit.

Recharging effectively reverses this chemical reaction, at the expense of some wear on the battery.

These reactions generate heat and can wear the battery, which eventually degrades the battery to exhaustion in a combination of physical and chemical effects beyond the scope of this article. To users, this wear is represented by a reduction of battery capacity over time. No battery is eternal.

Replacing an iPhone battery
Replacing an iPhone battery



As for why the percentage change is faster for some users, this could be down to a number of factors. Most obviously the reason for the decrease could be an increase in battery usage, with intensive apps like games more likely to require higher rates of power consumption in a short space of time. And, that always-on display does draw some power.

A worn battery can be an operational issue, as Apple did introduce safeguards in iOS 10.2.1 that throttled the CPU to minimize the chance of shutdowns from excessive CPU power draws. However, this did lead to multiple class-action lawsuits that resulted in a $500 million settlement.

There is the possibility that, with reduced capacities, iPhone 14 owners may encounter these safeguards far earlier than they may have expected, especially considering the multi-year lifespan of an iPhone in many cases.

The plural of "social media anecdotes" is not "data." At the same time, it's hard to deny the volume of the complaints about the battery Maximum Capacity percent.

Whether this volume is just loud, or indicative of an actual problem remains to be seen. Just because all of your previous iPhones still have a functional battery, and your iPhone 14 is depleting faster than those, doesn't mean it's a systemic problem with the iPhone 14.

And, of course, it doesn't mean that there isn't an issue. It's just too early to tell. Right now, it doesn't seem to be a larger issue visible to Apple -- yet.

AppleInsider's advice is to get this documented with the company at that 80% mark. If you try sooner, be prepared to hear that you're within tolerances, if you haven't dropped more than 10% since you got your launch model.

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 68
    Mine says it's at 93% capacity, and I acquired my iPhone 14 Pro in September 2022. So it's less than 1 year old. I have noticed that at the end of the day I have to charge it where it used to make it through the day without a second thought. I'm not sure what changed, but something is really dragging on the battery, so if a bunch of other people are experiencing the same thing then yeah, sounds like there's a problem.
    grandact73byronlbluefire1
  • Reply 2 of 68
    dtoubdtoub Posts: 18member
    My iPhone 12 Pro hit 88% one year in and Apple would not replace the battery under AppleCare since it wasn’t 80%. It stayed at 88% until I replaced it with the 14 Pro Mac. I’m at 100% with my 14  but I replaced the entire phone under warranty a few months ago (an early iOS development serf bricked it and they couldn’t restore it) 
  • Reply 3 of 68
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,820administrator
    kdogg said:
    Mine says it's at 93% capacity, and I acquired my iPhone 14 Pro in September 2022. So it's less than 1 year old. I have noticed that at the end of the day I have to charge it where it used to make it through the day without a second thought. I'm not sure what changed, but something is really dragging on the battery, so if a bunch of other people are experiencing the same thing then yeah, sounds like there's a problem.
    Like the article says, Apple expects about 10% per year. You're doing slightly better than the average of what Apple expects and plans for.

    There are loads of variables as it pertains to battery charging and life, and most of them are outside of the user's control. Some of them are even outside of Apple's control.
    williamlondonzeus423Alex1N
  • Reply 4 of 68
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,234member
    I bought my iPhone 14 Pro Max 9/2022 and it's still at 100%. I only use Apple chargers and cables. I usually only charge my iPhone at night, which charges using Apple's optimized charging battery charging. I've had my phone last two days without charging. I don't have my phone glued to my ear but I do carry it and use it throughout the day. My Activity shows my highest activity is Home & Lock Screen, which doesn't surprise me because I have notifications turned on, next is Mail, News and Safari. I don't play games on my iPhone, it's too small and my fingers and thumbs are not pointed. I don't know why others are having problems but I surmise it's because of heavy use and constant charging.

    BTW: I still have an original iPhone, which still works, so I've been using them for a real long time. The older batteries did do bad but I haven't had a newer iPhone have battery issues.
    edited August 2023 williamlondonappleinsideruserAlex1N
  • Reply 5 of 68
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,271member
    I have noticed an infrequent issue with the latest iOS release version on my iPhone 14 Pro Max. What I’ve noticed a few times is my phone will go into a state where it jacks up the screen brightness beyond my selected level and run the CPU at a rate that causes the phone to heat up considerably. If it’s in my pocket will notice it immediately, but if it’s just sitting on a desk or counter I may not notice it for a while. It seems like it is in a thermal runaway state because the normally cool iPhone is unusually hot. If I restart the phone everything is fine.

    I think there is a bug in the latest iOS version that is causing the CPU to get into a hot spin cycle. If you don’t notice it because you don’t have your phone on you where you can feel it, this would very likely drain the battery much faster than normal and heat up the phone unnecessarily, which is also bad for batter life.

    Unfortunately I can’t get the phone into this state in a repeatable manner or else I’d submit a bug report. It has happened when running Maps at least two times, but it’s also happened outside of Maps. It’s only appeared in the last few point iOS updates. 
    muthuk_vanalingamappleinsideruserAlex1Nkdupuis77
  • Reply 6 of 68
    Fred257Fred257 Posts: 231member
    Seems like a repeat of battery gate again. 
    williamlondongrandact73
  • Reply 7 of 68
    I got my iPhone 14 Pro Max around release time last year. My battery health is now at 97%. I do play games, one at the 24% level followed by Safari at 21%. I also use my phone as a hot spot for my iPad multiple times during a week, but I have no indication that it is deleterious to the battery life. I typically charge at night and notice how often it goes to the 80% level most of the time (and "clean energy charging" on). Looking at battery usage, it looks like I'm almost always down to 40% or lower daily.

    I do find that I have butt dials and butt activations more than I have with previous phone/iOS incarnations. The other day I even left the flashlight on until I noticed my butt was getting abnormally warm. Woe is me.

    I have no complaints.


    Alex1N
  • Reply 8 of 68
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,820administrator
    Fred257 said:
    Seems like a repeat of battery gate again. 
    I don't think I see the parallel.
    tmayrob53muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonbaconstangAlex1N
  • Reply 9 of 68
    zompzomp Posts: 62member
    Same issue here with an iPhone 13 Pro Max, but it leveled off and hasn't changed from 91% in over a year. It might be the nature of how batteries work. idk
  • Reply 10 of 68
    14 Pro already down to 89%. Bought right at launch a year ago. Never saw this drastic decline with any of my previous phones (I get a new one every year). 
    williamlondongrandact73phytonix
  • Reply 11 of 68
    This happens every year, generally right before a new product launch.

    My phone had been just fine until about 1.5 weeks ago, when suddenly the battery performance was terrible.  Literally, no changes in usage or habits.

    Apple claims they're not doing anything, people suspect otherwise.  The truth is somewhere in the middle, but I find it very suspicious that this same issue crops up every year before a new iPhone is released.

    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 68
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,234member
    As for all the commenters who have seen batter drain, please include types of apps being used, how you charge, where you use your iPhone (cold vs hot climate, inside and out) and how you protect your iPhone from the elements (it's in your pocket/purse, left out on the dash of your car or window sill, etc.). Batteries are batteries, hot and cold affect their performance and life. 

    I'm also seeing a lot of commenters with low number of posts. Are you all new? Changed your screen name? Have you owned iPhones for a long time?
    zeus423Alex1N
  • Reply 13 of 68
    iPhone 12 Pro Max here, so coming up for 3 years old. Original battery and I'm at 92%!



    rob53Alex1N
  • Reply 14 of 68
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,820administrator
    forrie said:
    This happens every year, generally right before a new product launch.

    My phone had been just fine until about 1.5 weeks ago, when suddenly the battery performance was terrible.  Literally, no changes in usage or habits.

    Apple claims they're not doing anything, people suspect otherwise.  The truth is somewhere in the middle, but I find it very suspicious that this same issue crops up every year before a new iPhone is released.

    It 100% does not.
    williamlondonelijahgrob53zeus423Alex1N
  • Reply 15 of 68
    It's always been like that. The difference is now the OS provides accurate tools for measuring it. By the way, battery wear and tear is directly related to how you use the phone. If you're constantly on Facebook and Instagram, 12 hours a day, you'll be lucky to have 80% battery health after a couple of years. If you're a very moderate user, it will last much longer -- it's just a matter of battery cycles. I am a heavy user and my batteries last about two years before the performance degrades. I just pay the reasonable replacement fee, sell the phone and upgrade.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 16 of 68
    iPhone 12 Pro Max here, so coming up for 3 years old. Original battery and I'm at 92%!



    Mine is bigger! IPhone XS Max here. A few weeks short of five years of exenstive use. And still 91 percent - for ages now, it indeed seems to be stuck at this level. So mayby the problem isn't such a problem. 
  • Reply 17 of 68
    Something that hit me is I wonder how many of the people with the fast drain on their iPhone battery are also  Apple CarPlay users.    I got a new car this year that had Apple CarPlay and I switched to Apple CarPlay and my battery was draining crazy fast.   I decided it wasn't worth it and switched back to the default car system AAOS and my iPhone battery that is still serving up music the battery stopped draining fast.   I don't know what the hell Apple CarPlay is doing other than music and maps but its keeping the iPhone real busy. 
    appleinsideruserbyronlAlex1Nmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 68
    I find the Battery Health function to be dubious.  I appreciate that it's there, but my personal experience with my iPhone 13 has been to watch the health indicator steadily decrease over two years until literally freezing at 80% for the better part of 9 months.  This same thing happened to my Series 5 Watch.  Just last week, the Watch finally dipped to 79% with the requisite warning of degradation, while the phone is still holding at 80%.

    It's been over two years, so I'm satisfied with the battery performance as a whole, but the pegging of the health indicator at exactly 80% for such a long time makes me chuckle a bit.
    williamlondonappleinsideruserAlex1Nmuthuk_vanalingamcitpeks
  • Reply 19 of 68
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 768member
    iPhone 14 Pro charged nightly via MagSafe since it first shipped last year and I'm still at 100%. I also drive a fair amount and have wired CarPlay, so it also charges in my car whenever i'm plugged in. One thing I almost never do is fast charge my iPhone. It's not that I avoid it, just that I rarely have a need for it. Not sure if fast-charging affects battery health over time. I've had an iPhone since the 4 and the only battery issues I've ever had is when bugs in certain OS updates cause faster battery drain--but Apple usually quashes those pretty quickly. 
    rob53byronlAlex1N
  • Reply 20 of 68
    I appreciate the inclusion of the Gaussian in the article.
    chasmAlex1N
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