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battery

My iPhone 13 Pro and its ultra-short battery life

Yesterday on Twitter, I bemoaned my new iPhone 13 Pro's surprisingly short battery life:

I've been seeing very short battery life on my iPhone 13 Pro—it barely makes it from 5am to 8pm despite it just sitting here on the desk most of the day.

Battery usage shows a sustained constant drain—and neither Music nor App Store were even running today.

WTF?

You can see full tweet thread with follow-ups, but here's the key graphic:

Each day, the battery would drain smoothly and continuously—you can see the pattern repeating on the prior day, as the battery dropped to under 20% by 9:00pm. This was happening despite the fact that I work at home and rarely use the phone while here—I might look at Twitter occasionally or launch an app or two, but it mostly just sits on my desk.

As Apple touts up to 22 hours of video playback for the iPhone 13 Pro, I didn't think it should be draining to under 20% in about 12 to 15 hours of non-usage. So the debugging started.

If you want the tl;dr, here it is: I turned off wifi sync, and the problem seems to have vanished. Read on for the details and a before-and-after comparison image.

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Don’t buy a Subaru Ascent if you car camp or tailgate or…

Note: This issue is apparently addressed by Subaru Technical Service Bulletin 07-155-19R. If you have an Ascent (or Forester, apparently), have your dealer update your vehicle.

When we owned a boat, we used a 2008 Toyota Sequoia to pull it. The Sequoia is a great truck—it pulled the boat, had tons of room for stuff and people, and rode quite nicely. But it was also incredibly efficient at converting money into gasoline fumes—even when not towing, it only got around 12mpg in town. It's also huge.

With the boat gone, we wanted something smaller, with better mileage, yet with room for seven people and capable of some towing. After a lot of research and a few test drives, we chose to lease a 2019 Subaru Ascent.

Reviews for the Ascent have been positive, with Consumer Reports scoring it at 96. In general, we've been happy with the car…until we took it on its first car camping trip last weekend.

It was there that we learned that Subaru made an incredibly stupid design decision with a vehicle targeted at those who use their vehicles for camping and exploring:

The rear hatch is not designed to be left open.

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Review: Olala 10,000mAh Power Bank

For those not aware, I have something of an addiction to portable power packs—with two kids and who knows how many devices, it seems someone somewhere is always out of power.

For the last few weeks, I've been testing an addition to our stable of such products: Olala's $32 10,000mAh Power Bank.1I received the Power Bank at a greatly reduced cost, but my review is based solely on its performance and my impressions of its build quality.

This shiny piano black unit looks great (though that shiny finish is a fingerprint magnet), and its smooth surface means it easily slides into a pocket in a backpack. Four blue LEDs let you know how much juice you have left. Unlike some battery packs, this one is Apple MFi Certified, meaning Olala has gone through the necessary steps to certify that their device meets Apple's standards. (You can search for MFi certified devices in case you're ever curious about a given accessory developer.)

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On the subject of Apple devices and battery life

In one of his recent "Hey Apple Fix This" columns for Macworld, Kirk McElhearn wrote about Apple's seemingly never-ending pursuit of thinness and its affect on the battery life of its products.

When I got this laptop, replacing a 13-inch MacBook Pro, I was very happy that it was thinner and lighter, but my goal was not to own a computer that could give me paper cuts; I wanted a computer that was practical.

While I completely agree with Kirk about the stupidity of pursuing thinness at the cost of better battery life, as a work-at-home person, the battery life of my Apple devices isn't usually an issue…until I have to take a trip, that is. Recently, I headed to San Francisco for a special "Thanks Sal!" dinner, thanking Sal Soghoian for all he's done for Mac automation over the last 20+ years. This was a very short trip—a 75 minute flight, one night away from home, then 75 minute flight back home. (Plus approximately 2,500 hours in the two airports.)

Because we're a small two-person company that writes Mac software, and it's my job to support our customers, I always have to bring my Mac (a late 2013 13" Retina MacBook Pro). And my iPhone, to contact my family/friends and check email. And my watch, because I've gotten used to having it around for notifications and weather and such. And to pass a bit of time in the hotel room, I'll usually bring my iPad.

Because of Apple's thinness decisions, only one of these devices (the iPad) can make this very short journey without needing a recharge. That meant I'd need to bring a Lightning cable (iPhone/iPad charge from computer), my Apple Watch charging cable (charge from computer), and my MacBook's power brick with wall adapter (I did leave the extension section at home, though).

All of that to support a simple overnight trip. Two-day battery life out of my devices would be so worth some extra thickness. (If I owned a newer laptop, it would have been even worse, as I would have needed some USB adapters, too, I'm sure.)

As an aside, what I didn't bring was an in-car charger, and that turned out to be a mistake. I drove a roughly 60 mile round-trip (2.5 hours in the car, with traffic) on Friday to see a friend, using my iPhone for navigation both directions. The rental car didn't have any USB jacks, so I was using my iPhone on battery power.

By the time I got back to the hotel, my phone had entered power saving mode. Thankfully, I was back early enough to charge it before the evening's festivities started. This seems like unusually high battery drain, but I don't do a lot of in-car navigating with my iPhone, so I don't know. (I used Apple Maps on the way there, and Waze on the way back.)

Portable power pack products prevent powerless problems

"Hello, my name is Rob, and I have a portable power problem. It's been six days, 13 hours, and 23 minutes since I last bought a portable power solution."

OK, so that's a bit over the top. But still, I find portable chargers appealing, as I don't like being without power when away from a wall outlet. Whether it's a long flight, a camping trip, or a Mother Nature-induced power outage, I like having alternatives. That's why there are currently eight chargers in my collection, as seen in the image at right (click for larger).

And while I can't pretend to be anywhere near as thorough as The Wirecutter, I thought it'd be interesting to compare all eight of these portable chargers.

The following table provides baseline specs on all eight chargers, and shows how much power you're getting for each ounce of weight you carry (mAh per Ounce) and how much you'll pay per milliampere-hour (mAh per Dollar)—so you can choose by power effectiveness or cost effectiveness. (The order of the table corresponds to the numbering in the above-right photo.)

My two favorites are highlighted; the Jackery is an ideal size to carry around nearly everywhere, and the EC Technology is excellent for camping trips or other extended periods away from power. Beyond the table, I share a few thoughts on each of these power bricks, in case you're really interested in these things.

#ProductSize (LxWxH, inches)Volue (cubic inches)Weight (oz)Capacity (mAh)mAh per OunceCost ($)mAh per Dollar
1OrigAudio w/ Oracle logo3.751.750.805.34.11,000243.9----
2Sony CPV3 Portable Power Pack4.001.500.754.53.02,800933.3
3Sony USB Portable Charger5.132.750.638.89.610,0001,041.7
--Sony Cycle Energy - 2+3 sold as a set13.312.612,8001,015.9$83.85152.7
4Zagg 6000 battery pack4.252.751.7019.97.56,000800.0$55.89107.4
5EC Technology Power Bank6.302.900.8014.615.422,4001,454.5$45.95487.5
6Jackery Giant+ Portable Charger4.303.100.8010.710.412,0001,153.8$39.95300.4
7Boostcase Hybrid Battery Case5.502.380.405.22.82,200800.0$99.9522.0
8JunoPower JunoJumper5.472.950.599.57.26,000833.3$99.9960.0

Read on for a little blurb on each charger…

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