Looking for a silver lining for iPhone 3G's dismal battery life

One CNET editor struggles to get his iPhone 3G to last for a flight from California to Minnesota, then considers the bright side of his iPhone's pitiful battery life: Layovers and their associated airport outlets now have a certain appeal.

iPhone photo out airplane window
View from the air, shot during my iPhone 3G's final throes. (Credit: Jason Parker/CNET Networks)

I've had my iPhone 3G for a few weeks now and I love it. I can log onto all of my e-mail accounts easily, enter appointments into my calendar without hassle, and the long awaited GPS works almost perfectly. I've spent more time than I care to admit browsing and downloading applications from the iPhone App Store. (By the way, the Phonesaber is even better now.) But for all the things I love about the iPhone 3G, the battery life is so bad that it almost makes it not worth the trouble. Almost.

I'm typing this rant on my iPhone 37,000 feet in the sky on my way to visit family. (Don't listen to the naysayers about the touch screen typing--it works great.) My iPhone was fully charged when I left the house, but by the time I did a little Web browsing while waiting to board the airplane, my battery was almost half-empty. I managed to find an outlet at the airport and push that little battery bar up over three-quarters charge before getting on the plane, but as I type this, I'm now back below half. I should point out I played several games of Solitaire before typing this, but I haven't listened to any music at this point, so this kind of battery drain is completely unacceptable for a mobile device.

I have 1.5 hours remaining on this flight, and while airplane mode has enabled me to play games and write this piece, I'm not sure the charge will last the flight. Fortunately, I have a layover, so I'll be able to hunt down a wall outlet at the next airport. (I never thought I'd look forward to a layover on a cross-country flight. Thank you, iPhone 3G.) Maybe I'll run into another iPhone user at that outlet and we can talk about how great our new phones are while we wait for them to charge up. Again.

For official battery life tests on the iPhone 3G, check out CNET.com's full iPhone 3G review.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.