Improve iOS Battery Life

I remember a time when my candy phones’ batteries could last few days. It isn’t so much that battery technology has not improved. On the contrary, the iPhone 5S with a battery capacity of 1560 mAh has almost 2.5 times the battery capacity of the Nokia 8210 which has a battery capacity of 650 mAh. But a modern smart phones does so much that it consumes so much power.

Most of us charge our iPhones daily, and some of us resort to charging it multiple times a day, every time we have the chance to.

For average use, most of the phone’s functionality and apps can be allowed to run as it is. But let’s take a look at a few factors that affect battery life:

Cellular Connectivity

Radios are used to connect to cellular networks (like 3G, LTE and CDMA) as well as WiFi networks, Global Positioning System (GPS) – for fetching your location – and Bluetooth for connecting with other devices supporting Bluetooth are one of the most battery-draining functionality in iOS devices.

One thing that might not be obvious: cellular radios work much harder to find a cellular signal when the signal is weak. So if you are in an area that has terrible or no reception for a few hours, it will probably help to enable Airplane mode.


WiFi radios consume less power than cellular radio. On the surface, switching on your WiFi network adds another source of battery use. But if there is WiFi connectivity available, iOS will use WiFi for data transfer, which actually ends up consuming less power than using cellular data networks.


Similar to other radios on iOS devices, the (Global Positioning System) GPS consumes battery when powered on and iOS manages whether the radio is powered up or down based on apps’ requests for location. A badly-designed app can ask for location too frequently and burn through battery much quicker than necessary.


iOS devices supports Bluetooth LE which consumes considerably less power than classic Bluetooth. As long as you are using accessories that support Bluetooth LE (and many do), battery consumption is very minimal.

Personal Hotspot

When another device, such as another iOS device or Mac, connects to your iOS device via Personal Hotspot, iOS has to keep both your WiFi and cellular radios powered on and this drains your battery drastically, so use it with care.

Background Fetch

To cut down on battery used by cellular and WiFi networks, iOS will try to power down the cellular and WiFi radios when they are not used. In order to still offer apps a way to fetch up to date data in the background so they can be presented immediately to users when users launch them (e.g. so you can read new emails in emails app as soon as you launch them), iOS has a feature called Background Fetch. When cellular or WiFi radios are already in use, iOS will occasionally prompt and allow apps to perform background fetch. i.e. iOS will be smart about letting apps access data in the background when it doesn’t cost too much battery.

This feature can be turned off without harming functionality, but it improves user experience so much and because iOS is smart about it, it can be worth keeping it enabled or just selectively disabling Background Fetch for certain apps in Settings app > General > Background App Refresh

Push Notifications

Push notifications has been around in iOS for a long time, and like Background Fetch is managed by iOS so it is efficient in how it uses the battery. Disabling apps’ push notifications nowadays should be more about managing distractions – and stopping annoying ads – rather than saving battery.

Screen brightness

Naturally, a large, vibrant screen consumes loads of battery.


Besides specific features mentioned above, battery drain is often dependent on how apps works. Certain apps might be overly aggressive about fetching an accurate location or polling for updates unnecessary or upload or downloading overly large content that isn’t tailored for a mobile device, or basically doing unnecessary work. It isn’t very easy to identify these apps at the moment, but iOS 8 will help by listing battery usage by specific apps.

If you liked this, you might like my article: 5 Things You Should Know About Your Mobile and Laptop Batteries too.


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