iPhone 3G review supplemental: battery life and MobileMe tests

We spent most of the weekend putting the iPhone 3G's battery life (and to a lesser extent, MobileMe implementation) to the test, and we've got far more encouraging results to report back than we had on day one. Pretty much everything we've found thus far jibes with Apple's claims, if not exceeds them. (Our video results early on skewed low because we had mistakenly left on push and fetch data, which dropped the battery life by almost 25%. After re-testing, they're back up to spec.)

All tested with 3G on, WiFi on (not connected), Bluetooth off, no data fetching enabled (unless specified otherwise). Media tested with stock headphones, medium volume, and medium screen brightness, auto-brightness disabled.

  • Music (continuous playback, large library, occasionally turning on screen): 31h 23m

  • Video (continuous playback, no push/fetch data): 7h 5m

  • Video (continuous playback, with push and 15 minute fetch data): 5h 24m

  • Daily data use (browsing, email, and GPS / maps): ~6h 30m

Those numbers definitely are not bad, but if you're anything like us and you kill time on your phone reading feeds and checking email like a fiend, by 3 or 4pm you'll likely be wondering if you'll even make it home with any power left -- especially if you leave on the 3G. Just be warned, the kind of prolonged usage on the original iPhone you used to get away with probably isn't possible with the iPhone 3G. For some, this may be an issue, while others may never notice. Click on for more on our MobileMe testing and enterprise stuff, and, of course, check out the full iPhone 3G review.

After nearly a week, we still haven't really had a positive experience with MobileMe among our editorial team. One editor, who had fewer issues than anyone else, still had difficulty syncing his 1,300+ contacts. MobileMe would choke on sync and require disabling / re-enabling to keep that sync moving. Another problem we saw was that email deletes weren't synced to other devices, requiring the same message be deleted in multiple locations. In some cases, a deleted email that wasn't properly synced would actually repropagate to back out other devices. Nothing better than zombie email.

Another thing we (and a lot of people noticed) is that MobileMe on the desktop is faux-push -- it only gets updates every 15 minutes because it's actually pulling them, unlike the iPhone's proper push. (We're, like, totally sure someone's going to sue.) You can edit a certain .pref file (details here) to make it fetch every minute -- but fetching every minute isn't push, now is it? Apple has since acknowledged this issue (among others).

We also noticed on the phone that if you have synced MobileMe calendars, your calendar subscriptions (like, say, shared iCal or Gcal or what have you) are disabled. Super lame that you keep having to choose between one thing or the other when syncing your data. Can't all our calendars and contact lists just play together on the same device? We think so.

All in all, right now our feeling is that MobileMe still feels like it's in beta -- when it's up -- and is generally falling way short of what was promised by Apple. We believe they're earnest when they say they're trying to get it all up and running to fulfill their commitments, but for the time being we think it's best to steer clear until they work out the kinks.

Some other enterprise bits
We came across a list of ActiveSync features not supported, many of which we already know. To recap, here are a few:

  • Folder management

  • Opening links in email to documents stored on Sharepoint

  • Task sync

  • Setting an out of office autoreply

  • Creating meeting invitations

  • Flagging messages for followup

We did also did get a chance to test WPA Enterprise / 802.1x with PEAP, and it works well.