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I have a mysterious problem with my iPhone 15 Pro Max

iPhone 15 Pro Max laying outside in a park.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

There’s an issue with the iPhone I’d like Apple to fix, but I’m not quite sure what it will take to do so. I don’t know if it’s a hardware or a software problem or even if I’ll always notice it if the issue has gone away.

It’s the battery life, but not necessarily the length of time the battery lasts on a charge. It’s more about battery life consistency, which is currently (and has been for some time) all over the place.

What’s the issue?

An iPhone 15 Pro Max charging with a USB-C cable.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Ever since the iPhone 15 Pro Max reached my hand, I’ve had a problem with the battery life, but not all of the time. When it’s working well, the battery lasts me for about two days on a single charge, which I find perfectly acceptable, and if it always performed in exactly the same way, I wouldn’t be writing these words.

The problem is it does not always perform in the same way. Although my use tends not to vary much at all, there are periods of time when the iPhone’s battery life takes a sudden, inexplicable nosedive. It’s noticeable because when it’s having these moments, it dips below 50% by around the middle of the day. It’s so out of character that it takes me by surprise. Yet, on other days, the battery can still register 80% by midafternoon. Currently, my iPhone on iOS 17.5.1 is having one of its better periods, where battery life is long and consistent, but I fear it won’t last.

I try to get to the bottom of the mystery when it does happen and am sometimes successful, but other times come up with no explanation at all. I narrowed down one prolonged period of high battery use to the GoPro app running in the background and taking up a lot of resources. I hadn’t been using the GoPro app, though, and only found out it was running when I checked the Battery settings page for more information. When the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s battery has one of its moments, I do check to see if the GoPro app is the cause, but it has not been responsible since that one time, so it’s not always its fault.

It’s not just me

A person plugging in the USB C charger to the Apple iPhone 15 Plus.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’ve had discussions with Digital Trends’ Mobile Section Editor Joe Maring and Staff Writer Christine Romero-Chan about the iPhone’s battery life, and I’m not the only one who has seen this odd behavior. Worse, it varies from person to person, and there’s no clear shared time of rubbish battery life, so there’s no way to nail down a single cause or type of use that’s causing the issue. We’ve all seen similar battery life problems on other iPhone models, and not just the iPhone 15 series, but it does seem to be more prominent this year.

To recap, it’s not just me, it’s not just the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’s not always a single app, and it happens with different versions of iOS. It also doesn’t always happen. This unpredictability is frustrating. More than once, I can recall looking down at my phone when I was out and thinking, “Where did all the battery life go?” But I can also recall similar times when I’ve spotted the battery percentage and been pleasantly surprised by how much was remaining.

I use both an iPhone and an Android phone each day, but rarely do I see any such battery life variation with the Android phone. While some phones deplete the battery faster than others, it’s almost always at a somewhat predictable rate, which is what the iPhone lacks.

I’m not sure what’s causing it

Purple iPhone 14 (left) and a green iPhone 15 in hand.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I don’t think the iPhone’s hardware is to blame for this odd, unpredictable problem. I’ve encountered it to various degrees on several generations of iPhone, so it doesn’t feel like an iPhone 15 issue that could potentially be cured with the release of the iPhone 16 series later this year. The GoPro app incident doesn’t convince me it’s solely an app problem because the same situation occurs even when the GoPro app isn’t installed.

This leaves iOS as a possible culprit. Search Apple’s Discussions online assistance board for “iOS battery drain,” and there are dozens of threads reporting problems that are similar to mine — and ones that are quite different, too. Over at Reddit, there are threads that report both battery drain and an improvement in battery life with iOS 17, showing the unpredictability isn’t restricted to my iPhone.

It seems iOS does cause unexpected battery drain, and in my experience, apps can do the same. It’s not clear which of the two is the worst offender, or even if it’s simply a coincidence that both have impacted the battery life — a fact not helped by the iPhone’s battery life being fine one month and poor the next. Not being able to predict, and therefore rely, on the iPhone’s battery life can make life difficult, and something needs to be done to make battery life more linear on a regular basis.

I want Apple to fix this

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro seen from the back.
The Apple iPhone 14 Pro (left) and iPhone 15 Pro Max Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

What do I want? I want it to stop, but I can’t be specific about what needs to change. I’d like iOS 18 to settle the battery life down into a somewhat predictable pattern and for the iPhone 16 series to provide two days of battery life on a single charge with moderate use. I’d like developers to make sure their apps aren’t contributing to any unexpected battery drain.

I’d like all these things, and for the next version of iOS and the iPhone to end this cycle of not knowing from one day, week, or month to the next what is going to push the iPhone’s battery life off a cliff.

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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