More battery life for iPhone and iPad

How do you get more runtime out of your iPhone battery? We give tips.
© Screenshot / Tim Kaufmann

If the battery level drops below 50 percent at lunchtime, then “battery stress” breaks out. Everyone reacts differently to it. One turns the display brightness down, the next activates flight mode and the hectic launch of apps is still not extinct. There are many ways to prevent this from happening in the first place. We’ll go through them step by step, based on iOS 14. Most of the settings also apply in iOS 15.

Read the battery level precisely

A battery bar is ok, a percentage is much more accurate. Up to and including iPhone 8, iOS shows the battery level in percent. With the notch on the upper edge of the display, this precision has been lost from the iPhone X onwards. In the control center you can still find the percentage on the newer devices (top right). To open the control center, swipe from the iPhone X and on the iPad over the top right corner into the display.

Show iOS battery
On the newer iPhones with notch, you can see the battery level in percent in the control center.
© Screenshot / Tim Kaufmann

Determine the battery status

Batteries have a limited lifespan. Each charging cycle robs the energy storage device of its maximum capacity. IOS in the settings reveals how the battery is in your iPhone. There you tap on “Battery > Battery status”. If the maximum capacity is well below 100 percent, then you should think about replacing the battery, either at a cell phone doctor or directly at Apple.

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Determine the “battery killer”

IOS also reveals more about the energy consumption of your iPhone in the settings under “Battery”. The most important thing is the information on the energy consumption of the individual apps. Tap on one of the apps so that iOS shows the energy consumption separately for “foreground” and “background”. “Foreground” means that the app is active on the display. “Background” means that you have left the app, but it is still running in the background.

Above you will find two buttons with which you can call up the statistics for the last 24 hours or the average values ​​for the last 10 days on the display:

  • 24 hours: Use this view to identify emerging problems with energy consumption. Case in point: the battery drains particularly quickly in a single day, even though you do not use the phone unusually. The fault is then usually a crashed app, which you can find high here in the list.
  • 10 days: If battery problems drag on for days without the 24-hour view providing an explanation, then switch to the 10-day view. In this way, you can track down complex problems, for example when different apps are draining the battery.
iOS battery usage
In the settings you can check which apps use the most electricity.
© Screenshot / Tim Kaufmann

Eliminate battery killers

Now that you know which apps are using the most power, it’s time to decide how to handle them.

  • Apps that empty the battery in the foreground are usually not critical. You use an app intensively, so it also needs energy. For example, the apps from video streaming services such as Prime and Youtube fall into this category.
  • Mostly it is apps running in the background that drain the battery. In the first step you should simply quit the app (read below how to do this). Maybe she just crashed. But if an app keeps attracting attention due to its background usage, then it gets tricky.

The difficulty lies in distinguishing useful battery consumption from useless ones. Think about whether the app concerned has a function that justifies high background consumption. Started a few downloads in the Netflix or Prime app? The app carries out the data transfer in the background and consumes electricity in the process. The same goes for the Maps app while navigating, for Spotify when listening to music, etc. Can’t you think of a reason to justify the background usage? Think about whether you can simply do without the app and then delete it if necessary. You can also simply replace some apps with the associated website. Keyword “Facebook”, whose app is notorious for its energy consumption.

Exit iOS apps
If an app is using too much power, quitting it can help.
© Screenshot / Tim Kaufmann

Quit apps

How you quit an app depends on which device you are using. The different Procedures for quitting apps has described Apple well on a help page. Basically, iOS manages background apps very well. Therefore, do without the old habit of closing apps on suspicion without a specific problem. That puts more strain on the battery than it helps. But iOS is not protected from crashing apps either.

Background update and location services

If you don’t want to do without an app with high background consumption, then you should take a look at its settings for background updates and location services. These iOS functions enable apps to become active in the background, for example at certain time intervals or when changing location.

Restrict the rights for background updates and location access for the corresponding app. The battery load may change as a result:

  • The settings for the background update can be found under “Settings > General > Background update”.
  • Apple has placed the location services under “Settings > Data protection > Location services”.
iOS Dark Mode
The dark mode helps to save energy, especially on OLED displays.
© Screenshot / Tim Kaufmann

Activate dark mode

With iOS 13, Apple introduced dark mode, in which light image content is replaced by dark. Dark mode saves electricity, especially on iPhones with OLED displays (X, XS, 11 Pro, 12 and 12 Pro). Experience has shown that 1 to 2 hours more runtime are possible. Combine the dark mode with a completely black background image to intensify the effect.

The background: OLED displays produce black by completely switching off the corresponding pixels. Conversely, this means that every black pixel on the display does not require any electricity. It’s different with LED displays. The display lighting generally remains switched on here. The superfluous light is only filtered in black areas.

We showed how to activate dark mode in the presentation of iOS 13.

Activate power saving mode

In power saving mode, the iPhone reduces its activity. E-mails are picked up less often, automatic downloads are omitted and iOS also does without one or the other optical gimmick. This leads to a longer battery life, but also a certain loss of comfort. We have had good experiences with activating the power saving mode in the morning when we know that a long day of intensive iPhone use is ahead. Otherwise we will do without it.

To activate the mode, open the battery settings. You can also add the power saving mode symbol to the control center (via “Settings > Control Center”). When the battery charge remains 20%, iOS offers to activate the power-saving mode. When charging, the operating system switches off the mode when the battery level has reached 80%.

Tip: With the Shortcuts app, you can create a shortcut that enables power saving mode and dark mode in one go.

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Power saving for advanced users

iOS offers many other options for reducing power consumption and thus increasing battery life:

  • Switch off the automatic activation of the display when lifting the iPhone (“Settings > Display & brightness > Activate when lifting”).
  • Place the iPhone face down. Then the display will not be activated for incoming messages and other new lock screen content (from iPhone 5S).
  • Remove widgets you don’t need.
  • Change to a non-dynamic (ie rigid) background image (“Settings > Background image”).
  • If the iPhone is not connected to a WLAN, it will constantly search the area for available wireless networks. That costs a lot of electricity. You can prevent this behavior by deactivating the “Point out networks” function (“Settings > WLAN”).
  • Let the iPhone control the brightness of the display. The device then automatically adapts to the ambient conditions (“Settings > Display & brightness”).

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