It’s difficult to live without a smartphone these days, and with so much of our lives contained within these tiny devices, we don’t want them to run out of power at an inconvenient time.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max provided more than 15 hours of battery life in our tests, but what if you have an older model that may not last as long? Apple’s $29 battery replacement program is no longer available, but you can still replace your iPhone’s battery for $49 to $69, depending on the model. If you’d rather go a few months without having to buy a new battery (or iPhone), here are some things to try.
Best Practices to Live By
Before we get into the short-term ways to extend your battery life, it’s important to understand what you can do to help your battery last longer. We’ve debunked a few phone battery myths, but here’s what the Responsible Battery Coalition has to say:
- When using or storing lithium-ion batteries, stay away from temperature extremes, both high and low.
- Reduce the amount of time a battery spends at 100% or 0% charge, as both extreme high and low “states of charge” stress batteries.
- Avoid using “fast chargers,” which, while convenient, degrade lithium-ion batteries faster than standard charging.
To save energy, there are settings that can be changed and features that can be turned off. Here’s what you can do right now to extend the life of your iPhone’s battery and, hopefully, get through the day without needing to plug in.
Activate Low Power Mode
Low Power Mode is one of your most powerful weapons against battery drain. When it is enabled, your phone only performs the most important tasks, so background activities such as downloads and mail fetching are disabled.
Low Power Mode is activated automatically when the battery drops below 20%, but you can also activate it manually to keep your phone running longer (though it will only work if your phone’s battery is below 80%). Go to Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode and enable it. When this option is selected, the battery icon in the top-right corner will turn yellow.
Adjust Screen Brightness
Smartphone displays are getting bigger and brighter, but those bright screens that keep you awake at night are wreaking havoc on your battery life. The good news is that they are easily dimmable.
First, turn on auto-brightness. Toggle on Auto-Brightness by going to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Auto-Brightness. Your phone’s brightness will be adjusted based on the current lighting situation. If there is enough light to see, the screen will dim to conserve battery life.
You can also manually adjust brightness levels by using the slider bar in Settings > Display & Brightness. The Control Center also includes a brightness slider; simply press lightly on the brightness icon and drag the slider up or down.
Turn Off Location Services
Location services are useful for apps like Google Maps and Yelp, but the GPS pings can quickly drain a battery. Turning off location services completely via Settings > Privacy > Location Services will result in your phone no longer sending location data to these services.
However, this will cause a number of useful apps to stop working. You won’t be able to ask Google for directions based on your current location, and your weather app won’t know where you are for the most up-to-date forecast. Most apps can be configured by Apple to use location data in one of three ways: Never, While Using the App, or Always. For Google Maps, for example, select While Using the App, and the app will only ping your location when you open it, rather than in the background, draining battery.
Turn Off Background App Refresh
When you close an iOS app, it will continue to run for a short period of time before entering a suspended state. Background App Refresh, on the other hand, allows suspended apps to continue checking for updates and new content—a process that can drain battery life.
Background App Refresh can be turned off completely or just for specific apps. To refresh the background app, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Toggle off Background App Refresh at the top of the screen, or choose to have it happen only over Wi-Fi.
Return to the previous menu and find refresh-heavy apps, such as email or social media platforms, to disable on an app-by-app basis. Turn them off. This should have no effect on how the app works, but it may take a moment longer for new information to appear when you return to them.
Cut Down on Notifications
If your screen displays a preview of every notification you receive, each text, breaking news alert, or Twitter follow consumes power. Reducing these interruptions can help you save your battery and your sanity. Navigate to Settings > Notifications and configure how, when, and where specific apps will display notifications.
Another option is to directly select a notification that you want to turn off in the future. Swipe to the left on such a notification and select Manage. You can choose to have the alert delivered quietly, which means that it will be delivered to your Notification Center without displaying on your lock screen, playing sound, or displaying a banner or badge icon. You can also disable this app’s notifications entirely.
Switch to Airplane Mode
If you’re experiencing a power outage, put your device in Airplane Mode, which disables all wireless features on your phone. Calls and texts will not be received, but you can still connect to Wi-Fi for iMessages and other tasks. The simplest way to do this is to look for and tap the airplane icon in the Control Center. It’s also available in Settings; simply turn it on. The airplane icon in the top right will indicate that it is active.
Turn Off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AirDrop
Wi-Fi is a great way to reduce the amount of data you use, but it doesn’t do much for your battery if you’re not using it right now. Because your phone is constantly searching for nearby Wi-Fi networks, the list of available networks changes all the time when you’re out and about. Similarly, Bluetooth and AirDrop are constantly trying to connect, but there’s no reason for them to be active all of the time.
The simplest solution is to disable these services through the Control Center. You can disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth by tapping the respective icons. To view the AirDrop icon, slightly press down on the menu options in the top left. You can also disable them by going to Settings > Wi-Fi, Settings > Bluetooth, and Settings > General > AirDrop > Receiving Off. Just remember to reactivate these services when you require them.
Turn Off Siri Suggestions
Siri, your digital assistant, will make recommendations based on your activity. If you get coffee every day, Siri may suggest your order around the time you usually place it. That’s great, but your assistant has to do some work in the background to make this happen, which, as you might expect, drains the battery. Go to Siri & Search > Settings. You can enable or disable Siri Suggestions in search, on the lock and home screens, and while sharing.
Kill Active Listening
Hands-free Siri is supported by modern iOS and iPadOS devices, which means you can say “Hey, Siri” and ask a question without touching your iPhone. However, this means that the device is always waiting for your command and draining precious resources. If you don’t use Siri frequently, turning off active listening may help with battery life. Navigate to Settings > Siri & Search and uncheck “Listen for ‘Hey Siri.'” Keep “Press Side Button for Siri” enabled to summon Apple’s personal assistant with the press of a button.
Remove Motion Effects
Dynamic wallpapers, or backgrounds that move and change over time, are visually appealing but drain your battery. If you have one, select static wallpaper from Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper > Stills. (When a phone is in Low Power Mode, dynamic wallpaper and perspective zoom are turned off automatically.)
Toggle on or off motion effects in apps by going to Settings > Accessibility > Motion > Reduce Motion. However, this will also disable screen transitions and dissolve effects, as well as the parallax effect, which causes your wallpaper, apps, and alerts to move with you as you tilt your device.
Buy a Battery Case
If you still can’t get through the day without recharging, consider investing in a battery case. There are numerous options for the iPhone X, iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and older devices.