Apple on update issue - no comment

Charging iPhone battery symbol
Image caption Battery draining too fast?

Is there a problem with the latest update to Apple's mobile operating system, and is it threatening to cause wider damage to mobile and corporate networks? I'm not entirely sure - because Apple itself is being typically uncooperative with anyone inquiring about it.

iPhone users, corporate IT departments and at least one mobile network are reporting problems following the iOS 6.1 update released late last month. It has apparently caused batteries on some iPhones to drain rapidly by repeatedly contacting the mobile network.

There appear to be two issues - one affecting mobile networks, the other corporate email.

Some iPhone users have seen intermittent problems with making calls or sending texts, apparently caused by their phones continually "talking" to the network.

And users have taken to Apple support forums to report problems with rapid battery loss:

  • "Since I updated to iOS 6.1 my battery is draining like crazy," said one
  • "My iPhone 5 was working fine until the 6.1 update, and then started running hot, and burning battery like crazy," reported another

Vodafone says the problem seems to be intermittent, and as far as it can see only affects iPhone 4S users. But the concern is that if a number of iPhone owners who had updated to iOS 6.1 were in the same location, the excess traffic generated could overload the local 3G mast. On Friday night the company contacted 4S customers who had not yet updated advising them to put it off while Apple worked on a fix.

Corporate IT departments using Microsoft Exchange for mail have also experienced problems. Some reported that the upgrade can cause phones to contact internal mailboxes thousands of times an hour, slowing down mail services and draining the users' batteries. Again, some companies are telling iPhone users not to upgrade for the time being.

So what is Apple telling users to do? Is there a problem and if so, is it working to solve it?

I contacted the company on Friday afternoon, and have been seeking a response ever since. The most I've received so far is "we're currently not commenting".

Having dealt with the company over the years this comes as no surprise. It has always played its cards very close to its chest, refusing to comment except on its own terms.

That has worked for Apple in the good times - but will refusing to enlighten its customers about an important issue endear them to the company at a time when some of the shine is beginning to come off the brand?

Update 12 February 09:28 GMT

Overnight, Apple has released another update to the iOS mobile operating system. It says that iOS 6.1.1 "fixes an issue that could impact cellular performance and reliability for iPhone 4S."

So it seems there was a problem and Apple engineers have been working on a fix. The company believes that saying as little as possible and letting its products speak for themselves is still the best approach.