Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BlackBerry Curve 8320: Mystery Overheating, Battery Drain

Suddenly found the phone quite hot, with the battery completely drained. At first I thought that I just kept the keyboard jammed in my pocket for a few hours - said to myself, no big deal, I'll just charge it overnight.

In the morning, the phone was still hot - I thought, no big deal, it's just been charging.

Then the battery charge started rapidly disappearing again. Cold reboot helped.

Trivial analysis would offer an educated guess - there was a runaway process consuming CPU and power. Too bad BlackBerry in production configuration doesn't offer any diagnostic tools...

So I just wrote it off as a weird bug.

Until the next time it happened, few days later.

Primary suspect: Google Maps for Mobile. Not everything is clear at this point, but it seems that the necessary conditions are:

  • fetching driving directions;
  • following the route;
  • driving through a no reception zone (not sure).
Apparently, the My Location feature, dependent on cell tower triangulation, is implemented in a way that goes nuts once in a while and just drains the battery. I am also wondering what does it do to sustained radiation emission levels - can't imagine the hot device in my pocket not pinging stations like crazy on maximum power level when this bug is triggered.

Interestingly enough, a similar problem was reported for iPhone 3G (read this, search for "draws") - apparently, it is possible to drain the battery faster than the power adapter charges it.

Last time, it was possible to stop the drain by closing Google Maps - it took me a few tries, however, and I'm not sure how exactly did I get the BlackBerry out of that condition. Let's see if this happens again, and what would Google do to Maps to fix this.

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