It’s tough to exist without a smartphone these days, and with so much of our life contained inside these tiny devices, we don’t want them running out of juice at an inopportune time.
In our tests, the iPhone 11 Pro Max offered more than eight hours of battery life, but what if you have an older model that may not last as long? Apple’s $29 battery-replacement program is long gone, but you can still pay $49-$69 to swap in a new one, depending on which model iPhone you have. If you’d prefer to eke out a few more months without paying for a new battery (or iPhone), though, here are some things to try.
Best Practices to Live By
Before we get into the short-term ways to boost your battery life, it’s important to know what you can do to help your battery withstand the test of time. Here’s what the Responsible Battery Coalition has to say:
- Avoid temperature extremes, both high and low, when using or storing lithium-ion batteries.
- Minimize the amount of time a battery spends at either 100% or 0% charge, as both extremely high and low “states of charge” stress batteries.
- Avoid “fast-chargers,” that, while convenient, also degrade lithium-ion batteries more quickly than standard charging.
If you want to do more, there are settings that can be changed and features you can toggle off to save energy. Here is what you can do right now to boost your iPhone’s battery life, and hopefully make it through the day without having to recharge.
Activate Low Power Mode
One of your strongest weapons against battery drain is Low Power Mode. With it enabled, your phone only performs the most essential of tasks, so background activities like downloads and mail fetching are disabled.
Low Power Mode will automatically kick in when the battery falls below 20 percent, but you can also activate it manually to keep your phone going for longer (though it will only work if your phone’s battery is below 80 percent).
Head over to Settings > Battery > Lower Power Mode and toggle it to on. You will know the feature is activated because the battery icon in the top-right corner will turn yellow.
Adjust Screen Brightness
Smartphone displays are bigger and brighter these days, but those crisp screens keeping you awake at night are murder on your battery life. The good news is you can easily dim that brightness.
First, activate auto-brightness. Navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Auto-Brightness and toggle it to on. Your phone will then adjust its brightness based on your current lighting situation. If you have enough light to see, the screen will turn itself down and save battery life.
You can also manually adjust brightness levels in Settings > Display & Brightness, where you can turn on dark mode if you have iOS 13, but also adjust brightness via the slider bar. A slider is also accessible via the Control Panel; pull down from the top-right corner on iPhone X models or swipe up from the bottom on older iPhones. Press lightly on the brightness icon and move the slider up or down.
Turn Off Location Services
Location services are helpful for apps like Google Maps or Yelp, but those GPS pings can wear down a battery quick. Turn off location services completely via Settings > Privacy > Location Services and your phone will stop feeding location data to these services.
This, however, will make a number of useful apps stop working. Your weather app won’t know where you are for the latest forecast, and you won’t be able to ask Google for directions based on your current location. As such, Apple provides the option to customize how most apps use location data: Never, While Using the App, or Always. Select “While Using the App” for Google Maps, for example, and the app will only ping your location when you open it, not in the background, draining battery.
Turn Off Background App Refresh
When you close an iOS app, it will keep running for a bit until entering a suspended state. With Background App Refresh, however, those suspended apps can still check for updates and new content—a process that can drain battery life.
You can disable Background App Refresh completely or just for certain apps. Navigate to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Tap Background App Refresh up top to turn it off, or opt to have it happen only over Wi-Fi.
To disable on an app-by-app basis, return to the previous menu and find refresh-heavy apps, like email or social networking platforms. Toggle them off. This shouldn’t have any effect on how the app works, but might take a moment longer to surface new information when you return to them.
Customize ‘Fetch New Data’
Having email on your phone can be super convenient and data fetches mean your inbox is always displaying the most recent messages. But you can customize how these fetches occur so the phone isn’t draining its battery by constantly searching for new messages or calendar items.
Turn off data pushes by navigating to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Fetch New Data. Here, you can deactivate Push data entirely or choose how often you want your iPhone to check for new content on the various apps that support it.
Cut Down on Notifications
If your screen lights up with a preview of every notification you receive, it’s consuming power with each text, breaking news alert, or Twitter follow. Cutting down on these interruptions can save your battery and sanity.
One option is to find a notification from an app you’d like to silence, swipe left, and select Manage. Here you can choose to have the alert delivered quietly, which means it will go to your Notification Center, but won’t show up on the Lock screen, play sounds, or show a banner or badge icon. You can also turn off notifications for this app completely.
Or go to Settings > Notifications and customize how and when specific apps will show notifications.
Turn Off Wi-Fi
Using Wi-Fi is a great way to cut down on the amount of data you use, but it doesn’t do wonders for your battery. Your phone continuously searches for nearby Wi-Fi networks, which is why the list of available networks constantly changes when you’re out and about.
The quickest solution is to shut off Wi-Fi at Settings > Wi-Fi; toggle the switch at the top of the screen to off. You can also do this via the Control Center pull-down; tap the Wi-Fi icon to shut it off. Just remember to turn it back on when you get home or to a location with steady Wi-Fi, lest you use up all your cellular data.
Shut Down Bluetooth and AirDrop
Similarly, Bluetooth and AirDrop are constantly looking to connect, but there’s no reason for them to be active at all times.
Turn off Bluetooth by going to Settings > Bluetooth and sliding the toggle to off. Turn off AirDrop by navigating to Settings > General > AirDrop > Receiving Off.
You can also turn AirDrop off from the Control Center. Swipe down from the top-right on iPhone X and above or from the bottom of the screen on older iPhones. Press down slightly on the menu options on the top-left. Tap AirDrop in the menu that appears and choose Receiving Off.
Switch to Airplane Mode
If you’re in a real jam for power, put your device in Airplane Mode, which turns off all your phone’s wireless features. Calls and texts won’t come through, but you can still connect to Wi-Fi if necessary for iMessages and other tasks. The easiest way to do this is to look for the airplane icon in the Control Panel and tap it. It’s also accessible in Settings; just toggle it on.
You’ll know it’s activated by the airplane icon on the top right.
Turn Off Siri Suggestions
Siri is supposed to function as your “digital assistant,” so on iOS, she will make suggestions based on your activity. If you get coffee most days, for example, Siri may suggest your order around the time you normally place it. That’s great, but she has to do some work in the background to make this happen, which—you guessed it—drains battery.
Navigate to Settings > Siri & Search. Under Siri Suggestions, you can enable or disable them in search, in Look Up, and on the lock screen.
Kill Active Listening
Select iOS devices support hands-free Siri, meaning you can say “Hey, Siri” and ask a question without having to touch your iPhone. But that means the device is awaiting your command, so if you don’t use Siri that much, turning off active listening could help with battery drain.
Navigate to Settings > Siri & Search, where you can disable “Listen for ‘Hey Siri.'” Instead, you can leave “Press Side Button for Siri” enabled, and still call Apple’s assistant with the push of a button.
Turn Off Automatic App Updates
It’s always a good idea to keep your apps and operating systems up to date. Some updates can help your apps run faster and smoother, decreasing the processing power needed to make them function.
Since iOS 7, Apple has supported automatic app updates, meaning when an app update arrives, your phone will install it in the background so you’re always up to date. That process can drain battery, though. To temporarily turn it off, navigate to Settings > iTunes & App Store and toggle the switch next to Updates to off.
Remove Motion Effects
There are a number of iPhone features that look cool—motion effects on app icons and dynamic wallpaper, for example—but slowly drain your battery.
Turn off the motion effects on apps by navigating to Settings > Accessibility > Motion > Reduce Motion, then toggle the switch to turn the feature on. Note, however, that this will also disable screen transitions and effects that dissolve as well as the parallax effect—where your wallpaper, apps, and alerts move with you as you tilt your device.
Dynamic wallpapers, meanwhile, are backgrounds that contain movement and change over time. You don’t have to turn this feature off; just choose a wallpaper that doesn’t move via Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper > Stills.
Dynamic wallpaper and perspective zoom are automatically turned off when a phone is in Low Power Mode.
Did you know the mechanism in your phone responsible for vibrations actually eats up battery life? Since the little motor inside the device that is in charge of vibrations requires energy, it may help a bit to silence your phone.
To disable it, go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics and turn off Vibrate on Sound or Vibrate on Silent.
Apple’s iCloud Photos feature will send photos you take on your phone to the cloud, so you can access them on other devices and the web. It’s a nice feature, especially if your phone is lost, stolen, or damaged. But yes, sending those photos to the cloud requires battery power.
If you need a little extra battery power while you’re out and want to take the risk, disable this via Settings > Photos > iCloud Photos.
Buy a Battery Case
If you still can’t manage to make it through the day without recharging, consider a battery case. There are many options available for the iPhone X, iPhone 11, as well as other iPhone models.
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