Thursday, August 14, 2008

A week with 2.0.1

I have been on vacation in Far West Texas for about a week now. This is actually my real home out here, as I just rent in the Space City.

2.0.1 has been a mixed bag: Stability is better, but still not great. keyboard hangs are still there. Battery life is pathetic still.

On the Amtrak train out here, I exhausted the Lenmar external battery and was at about 50% of the internal battery when I finally arrived in the Alpine, TX train station. We were running about two hours behind because every time a freight train needed our tracks, we pulled over on a siding and waited. It is a crime of epic proportions that we in the US have let our railroad system decline like this, now when we need it most. Really: Tracks in both directions guys! The carbon footprint of me on a train going 600 miles to Far West Texas is just a tiny fraction of me in my Honda Fit driving the same route. But I digress...

The Lenmar was good for about two full charges, so that means in 17 hours I charged my phone twice, and then used it down to 50% again. First company that makes a decent auxiliary battery I can just leave strapped on gets my business.

Here is what I was doing: I watched about five hours of movies, listened to 10 hours of audiobook, and occasionally used the GPS to get a fix on what city I was near. From the specs, I should have used slightly less than two charges worth, and it did not seem to be the movies or audiobooks doing the damage to the battery. The visible drop came when I was using the GPS / Map function.

This matches an observation I made when I was in SanFran a few weeks ago: I went to the city with a full charge, and I *only* used the GPS / Map function while there. Nothing else. By then end of about 8 hours of walking around the city and getting fixes (mostly for fun: I knew where I was most of the time) the battery was in the red.

GPS eats battery.

Another thing I have never really thought through about this: If you can not see a cell tower, the GPS is worthless. If it can not load a map, so it can draw a pin on it, it just goes into la-la land. Not even a basic longitude and latitude readout appears. That seems like an oversight: Another assumption that people will never be out of sight of a cell tower.

On the train, we were following I-90 most of the way, but at one point we skimmed within feet of crossing over into Mexico. For a while, I had no signal at all. Then I had only signal from Mexican cell infrastructure, which AT&T warned me about with a nifty IM telling me that International rates now applied.

I slapped it into airplane mode for an hour, and when I took it back out, it was back to "no signal". I was glad to see it went in and out of Airplane mode: I had read that some were having trouble with that after the 2.0.1 upgrade.

Since arriving, the iPhone has been in Airplane mode most of the time: my house sits in a Caldera, and the rim walls of the volcano contain enough iron that no cell signal penetrates. No Internet either, although that is because of a problem over at the cable company.

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