Monday 21 January 2019

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems


Customers of iPhone are being offered new batteries
Customers of iPhone are being offered new batteries
Garmin Vivofit 3
Apple Watch 3 GPS
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q I have an iPhone that's only two years old but the battery life has become terrible on it. It seems to fall to 50pc within an hour or so. Should I upgrade to a new model or is there anything else I can do?

A I'm going to assume that your two-year old iPhone is either an iPhone 6, 6S, 7 or SE, given that they're the phones launched since 2014. If so, you probably don't need to upgrade your phone because Apple has just announced that it is giving customers of these particular phones a brand new battery for a knockdown price of €29. That's about a third of the price it would normally cost. They're offering this because the newest software upgrade to ­iPhones is causing older models to slow down a bit, a measure taken to protect those phones' batteries (because of the extra lifting that the software update asks of the overall phone).

To take advantage of this, you just have to turn up to an "authorised Apple service provider" with your old iPhone and they'll open up your handset, replacing the older battery with a new one.

This €29 price is an Apple-subsidised tariff, so you'll only get access to it through these "authorised" shops - if you try asking for a battery replacement in a normal mobile phone shop, it may cost you closer to €100. Unfortunately, there aren't too many 'authorised' Apple service centres in Ireland (CompuB, iConnect and Harvey Norman) and they're only located in cities.

Bear in mind, too, that this isn't a quick over-the-counter affair. You have to leave your phone with them for around three days, so you might need a backup handset to use while the battery swap is being done.

And unfortunately, this offer only applies to iPhones from the iPhone 6 onwards. So if you have an iPhone 5, 5S or 5C (or an iPhone 4S), you don't get the benefit of this subsidised price. (To be fair, it's barely worth replacing a battery on any of these phones anyway as you won't get too much more use out of them at this point.) A word of caution. Even with this battery replacement, there is still a chance that your battery may not last quite as long as it did when you first bought it. That's because the updated operating system now makes more demands on your iPhone. The newest models can deal with these demands in a more energy-efficient way thanks to the more modern processors and engines.

That said, a new Apple battery is guaranteed to be better than what you have at present, regardless of any other factor. It could even extend the life of your phone. Batteries naturally degrade over time. A new one could give you another two to three years with your current device, if you're not too pushed about the very latest features (such as Face ID, which will probably start coming to cheaper iPhones later this year).

If this option doesn't sound doable for you, or if you have an iPhone that isn't covered by the subsidised battery-replacement scheme, there are a few other things you can do if the battery is really desperate.

Reduce your screen's brightness will save a chunk of battery life. Similarly, if you can live without it, switch off the iPhone's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in settings. And make sure you don't have lots of apps running in the background.

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Two to Try

Garmin Vivofit 3 

(€69, Argos)

Yes, yes - you're definitely going to get in shape this year. If you're looking for a gadget to help, Garmin's Vivofit 3 is a nice, affordable option. Its basic purpose is an exercise and sleep assistant, tracking your movement and working with a free app to keep you on your exercise schedule. It's waterproof, too, making it perfect for the Irish climate.

Apple Watch 3 GPS

(€379, Harvey Norman)

If you want a pro-level exercise gadget that also functions as a fully connected watch, it's hard to beat Apple's waterproof Series 3 Watch. It has a fully functional touchscreen that displays all message notifications and lets you pay for things using Apple Pay. GPS means it tracks where you are, while it can also play music to Bluetooth headphones. It can even make and take calls, with a microphone and speaker on board. It comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm.

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