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Since the introduction of smart devices, battery power has been and still remains a precious commodity. In this article we will review many of the features and settings of iOS devices that impact battery life, and make recommendations about how to conserve power.

One important thing to keep in mind is that battery life is complex, and the impact of one setting for a specific user may not always reflect the impact of that same feature on another user’s device. It’s also important to note that after you make any changes, be sure to charge your iOS device on a wall charger overnight. This full charge is often needed before any changes will be effective.

iOS Updates
Backup your device just in case, then install any pending iOS updates to make sure you have the latest performance updates. You can update your iOS device’s software by tapping Settings > General > Software Update. If there is an update pending, you’ll be prompted to download and install it.

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Brightness
Turning the brightness down will make the display use much less energy. To adjust this, go to Settings > Wallpapers and Brightness, then slide the brightness slider down to the lowest point where you can still thoroughly enjoy your device. Turn Auto-Brightness off so your brightness setting does not change.

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In situations where you need more brightness temporarily, access Control Center by swiping from the bottom up, and adjust the brightness there.

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Location Services: On vs. Off
Turning off location services will make a significant difference in battery life. However, if you turn it off, you will not be able to locate your iOS device if it is lost or stolen, so you have to decide if having Location Services turned on or off is best based on your circumstances. You can turn this feature off in Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

Location Services: App Settings
Rather than disabling location services system-wide, you can go with a more granular option of disabling it for specific apps. For example, the Maps app obviously needs to use location services for directions. However, you can turn it off for apps you rarely use, or apps you don’t feel it’s necessary to use location services. For example, I don’t use Passbook, and I don’t feel the CNN app needs to use my location to be effective, so I turned location services off for those apps. I recommend leaving this featured enabled for Reminders, so location-based reminders continue to work.

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Location Services: System Services
Another section in the Location Services settings page allows you to toggle GPS access for certain system features. To get to this page, scroll to the bottom of the Location Services settings and select System Services.

You can safely turn off Diagnostics and Usage and Location-Based iAds without much consequence. Disabling Frequent Locations will help save some battery life, but Notification Center will no longer be able to give you estimated travel times for your job or other frequently-visited locations. Based on your lifestyle, you can also turn off Traffic, Setting Time Zone, and Popular Near Me (which will disable the App Store feature for finding popular local apps).

Bluetooth
Bluetooth is generally used for sending audio to Bluetooth speakers, headphones, or car audio systems. It should be turned off unless it is being used. To turn Bluetooth off, access Control Center by swiping from the bottom up, and tapping the Bluetooth icon.

Wi-Fi
Turn off Wi-Fi in situations where you are not using it. For example, when you are walking around in an urban area, your phone is recognizing each wireless network that is in range. If you turn off Wi-Fi in these situations using Control Center, you will save some battery power.

Multitasking
Apps running in the background can affect battery life. To quit them, double-click on the home button and use a swipe-up gesture quit each app. You can do this to all the apps that are currently running, since you can always open the app again if you need it.

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Email Accounts: Push and Fetch
If you have any Mail accounts set to receive Push email, your phone is constantly checking for new messages from the server, which uses up power. To turn this off, access Settings > Mail, Contacts and Calendars > Fetch New Data and scroll down to Push. Changing this setting to off will save power, especially if you have several email accounts. However, you will need to manually open the Mail app to get any new emails.

A good compromise here is to use the “Fetch” setting with a suitable fetch time. With this setting, your phone will connect to the server and check for new mail only a few times (once every 15 minutes at most). This decrease in network activity can help mitigate battery drain while still delivering your email automatically.

Background App Refresh
This feature allows apps running in the background to refresh their content automatically. Each time an app wakes up in the background to access the network, it uses battery power. To change this, you can go to Settings > General and scroll down and tap Background App Refresh, and turn Background App Refresh to off. When prompted, tap Disable Background App Refresh.

As with most other settings, disabling Background App Refresh can impact certain features that you rely on. For example, the “Today Summary” feature in Notification Center relies on both Location Services and Background App Refresh in the weather app to function. To avoid disabling system features you enjoy, you can toggle the feature for individual applications just like Location Services.

Unlike Location Services, however, apps don’t need to ask for your permission to use Background App Update, so be sure to check this list often and see if any recently-updated apps have registered for the service without telling you.

Disable 4G or LTE
If you live in an area where your cellular carrier offers 4G service, turning this feature off may make cellular data load more slowly. If you live in an area where your carrier does not offer 4G service, turning this feature off will not make any difference in your cellular data speed. Either way, if you turn it off you will save some battery power. Access Settings > Cellular and turn Enable 4G off.

Music and the Equalizer
When you use the speaker on the iOS device to play audio, it uses a great deal of power. When you play music using earbuds, much less power is used.

There is also an Equalizer setting in the Music app that allows you to control the sound of the audio. Enabling the equalizer uses much more power than the default setting. To turn the equalizer setting off and save power, tap Settings > Music > EQ and change the setting to Off. 

Gaming
Some games are very demanding on the processor. One of the main reasons I mention gaming is not to recommend against it, but to make sure that if you are gaming you consider using earbuds. Playing certain games through the speaker can drain your battery completely from a full charge in just over an hour.

Third-party Apps
Certain apps can use an unreasonable amount of processing power and cause problems. Prior to iOS 7, flashlight apps were popular and used battery power even when the flashlight was not being used. The Facebook app is also rumored to cause performance problems and use an inordinate amount of power. You can uninstall any flashlight apps and the Facebook app to save battery power. Then use Safari to access Facebook and Control Center to access the flashlight.

Restore and Setup as New
If none of the measures above are resolving battery life issues, perform a Restore and select Setup as New in the iOS setup assistant. First back up your device, just in case, then access Settings > iCloud and make sure all the data you want is synced to iCloud, such as your contacts and calendars.

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Then tap Settings > General, scroll down, and choose Reset. Select “Erase All Contents and Settings.” Type your passcode if prompted and then tap Erase iPhone twice. If you have Find My iPhone turned on, you will then be prompted to enter your Apple ID password to erase the iPhone.

Your phone will restart and you will be on the setup screen as if your phone were new. When asked whether you’d like to restore a backup, choose Setup as New instead. After that, you will be asked to enter your Apple ID for iCloud. This will bring back your contacts, calendars, and other iCloud data. You can get your apps back from the App Store by tapping Updates at the bottom right, then Purchased at the top. Tap the cloud icon with the down arrow to download apps again.

Your purchased music can be restored from the iTunes Store by tapping More at the bottom right and then Purchased. Tapping a media type like Music, Movies, and TV Shows displays your purchase history. In Music, tap All Songs and you’ll find a convenient “Download All” button at the top right of the next screen.

Charging Cases and Other Devices
If you still aren’t getting enough battery life out of your iOS devices, you can always use a charging case, like the Mophie Juice Pack Air. However, some people don’t like the extra bulk that results from a charging case. To get the extra power without the bulk, you can choose from a wide variety of external batteries.

One product I’ve found helpful is the Halo Pocket Power 2800. It will charge your iPhone 1.5 times, and at 2.5 ounces (71 grams) provides a lightweight, affordable, compact solution you can keep in your jacket pocket. For something more formidable, you might try the Anker Astro E5 15000mAh Dual External Battery Pack, which can charge your iPhone 7 times.

Of course, as noted above, battery life is a complex issue that can be affected in different ways for different users. If you’ve got a great battery-saving tip, be sure to drop it in the comments section below.

 

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19 Responses to “How-to: Conserve battery power on your iOS devices”

  1. Multitasking sometimes helps to preserve battery life because it freezes the RAM and uses less energy to reopen. When you use some app all the time it better to keep it there.

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  2. Avenged110 says:

    Just ftr, depending on the device, turning off LTE could actually decrease battery life, assuming your carrier has it. For example, on AT&T, LTE is much more efficient than their terrible HSPA+ service, so my phone drains much faster with LTE disabled. Also, for the 5s and 5c, Apple quotes an additional 2 hours on LTE vs 3G. The only time you would want to disable LTE is if your carrier doesn’t even support it in your region. Signal attenuation in pockets causing flipping between 3G and LTE because there’s no freaking switch to disable HSPA+ issues notwithstanding.

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  3. Mark Bright says:

    The best way to improve your battery life is to turn your phone off before you charge it. Completely OFF!!!
    Then plug power into your phone, the phone will boot back up and you have battery that will charge better. This will turn off everything that is running in the back ground. Swiping Apps with your finger does not always turn them off. Remember your phone is not just a phone, its a computer that makes phone call and you have to reboot once in a while.

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    • That’s a good point that I should have included in the article. Simply turning your phone off stops apps from running away with your battery.

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    • inquiblog says:

      Mark, you are at such a high level as this article reach with your tip. Your tip is very logical and quoted by many sources, you must really know about iOS to know that Swiping Apps does not always turn them off!

      Also when you say that the best way to improve battery life is by turning off the phone before charging it, that’s great and never heard about it before, Apple should include that info somewhere!

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  4. inquiblog says:

    Location Services: “..However, if you turn it off, you will not be able to locate your iOS device if it is lost or stolen”

    FALSE (read you own image, the warning is telling you the opossite)

    A Lot of things mentioned in the article are showing that lack of real knoweledge, only a summary of things heard around, many of them will make a reader think: May be Apple has nobody smart enought to make some of this settings default or change thigs so users don’t need to do it manually (like closing apps), or may be that makes no difference, or may be the iOS does that automatically after 10 min.

    I think this is mis-informating users, and making the iOS experience worse…

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    • jjcoolstuff says:

      I agree. I generally like this site, but this post is a joke. Most things listed here are either not worth it and cripple the device or they’re just false. Getting users in the habit of closing all apps that are in a saved state is terrible. They’re not using power unless they’re allowed to multitask or use background app refresh. To say that using push email causes your phone to constantly check for emails couldn’t be further from the truth. The name even says “push”. The email server notifies your phone when there’s new mail and pushes it to you. I generally feel like any end user that I’ve ever talked to about an iPhone could have done a better job with this article. As one commenter mentioned, you’re just taking things that you’ve heard and passing them off as fact without checking any of it. I even took the time to create a stupid wordpress account to let you know how frustrating this is.

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  5. zmac11 says:

    Your statements on multitasking are completely false.

    Please refer to Apple’s own support site: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4211

    It says “Multitasking doesn’t slow down the performance of the foreground app or drain battery life unnecessarily.”

    Closing background apps would help on an Android, but not on an iPhone.

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    • Tallest Skil says:

      >>unnecessarily

      Great definition. It’s ambiguous enough that your claim is completely false, as, again, Apple’s own documentation states. Unnecessarily does NOT mean “does not drain battery”.

      Background apps keep:

      1. playing video/audio
      2. sending and receiving location data
      3. receiving push notifications
      4. receiving local notifications

      So they DO continue to use processing power, and therefore battery.

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      • 1. not if they aren’t currently playing. You can tell because… music would be playing.

        2. not if they aren’t currently using your location. Maps being in multitasking doesn’t mean it’s getting your location data. You can tell when an app is using it in the background from the location service icon next to the battery status. If it’s outlined it means you have an app using geofencing such as reminders. If it’s solid it means an app is currently using it. Open maps and notice how it goes solid. Then go to the home screen and after a few moments it goes away automatically– no need to close it in multitasking. This is not the case if you are currently routing directions in which case you’d really want it to stay on.

        3. push notifications have nothing to do with whether an app is running or not. Close down mail and then send yourself an email from a computer and you will still get it. It’s a server and os thing, not a app thing. That’s why in previous versions of iOS you would get a notification and then open the app and it would need to refresh its content instead of being there already. Now waiting for the app to refresh when opening happens less often because of background app refresh but notifications and multitasking/background app refresh are still separate things.

        4. I don’t even know what this means? you mean geofencing? This is another case of iOS managing it and not the app itself. If you have location services enabled for an app like reminders but have closed the app in multitasking it will still remind you. Again, this is testable. Just make a reminder for when you “leave home” and then close the reminders app from multitasking. The outlined location services icon next to the battery will stay on until you remove that reminder. Now leave home and you will still get the reminder.

        If you have turned off all these other services than closing down your apps will have so little effect on battery that you probably lose more battery taking the time to close them than just putting your phone away.

        As Guilherme noted in the first post, if you use an app frequently, removing the frozen ram requires it to use energy to reload it. iOS manages ram so that if the current app you are launching needs more ram an app used earlier will give it up. This whole “close all your apps in multitasking” argument is ridiculous.

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      • Tallest Skil says:

        I guess Apple is lying to us, then, when they say those things are available to an app specifically if it’s running, huh.

        Look, I know what you mean, man. When you’re not focused on an app, it uses next to no power! I’m in your camp; it doesn’t really matter. But it DOES use more power than if it was closed. They’re NOT wrong in that regard.

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  6. Steve Grenier says:

    This article is not very practical. If you want to improve battery life without disabling everything, read this. http://www.overthought.org/blog/2014/the-ultimate-guide-to-solving-ios-battery-drain

    Like

  7. This completely glosses over how background app refresh works and makes it seem like apps are just constantly checking for data whenever they feel like.

    – The app tells the system if it wants to use background app refresh.
    – The system analyzes your usage patterns for that app (you open it every morning around 7, once an hour, on third Tuesdays, etc.)
    – After the system thinks it has your pattern for the app figured out, the system will then try to find a time where it can wake up as many apps at once to do their work. Minimizing the number of times the device wakes up will help it save battery.

    it also takes into account your location and whether or not you are wifi when determining these patterns. It’s much smarter. Of course turning off more will might take it less time of accessing network but the device is still going to wake for those other apps at some point anyway.

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  8. An actual battery saving advice from apple: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3576

    “If you have an app that could send frequent notifications (for example, Mail with high-traffic email accounts, Twitter apps, and so on), your iOS device could wake frequently to display the notification (and affect battery life). You can disable Show on Lock Screen for a particular app in Settings > Notification Center > .”

    this is not the same as turning off notifications entirely, you will still get sound or vibration badge and banner if you are currently using your phone, it’s just not waking the screen up when you might not be looking at it, like in your pocket. It would actually be nice if it used the proximity sensor to not wake the display if it’s in a pocket so it will still be on lock screen when you choose to look at it but not waist energy when not looking at it. Maybe they don’t have that if the phone is on a desk but face down it’s useful to see the light from the screen. I don’t know.

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  9. bhberson says:

    Whitney, will you and all other “Apple Blogs” stop saying that Multitasking is ruining battery life. It SAVES it as Guilherme says. The only reason you should ever have to quit an app is if it is not behaving properly. If you are using a GPS app or music app for example, yes it will consume battery when you are taking advantage of it running in the background, just stop it and then exit it like normal and bam, back to normal, NO need to quit an app.

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