10+ tips for better iPhone battery life

There's nothing worse than running out of power when you're trying to get somewhere or need to get work done.

Apple, iOS, iPhone, Battery, how to
Leif Johnson/IDG

What can you do when you’re racing to the next meeting, desperate to use Wallet to catch your plane, or otherwise stuck on a long and winding road with no access to power for your iPhone?

You can follow these tips (and avoid trouble).

Think about how you use your iPhone

Of course, I realize that when you are using your iPhone you want to be able to do everything you possibly can do with it. But when you’re attempting to eke out a little more active battery life, it makes sense to think about what you are using your device for – and how to do so in a more energy-efficient way.

That means that when battery life is important, you should ration how many times you check your device, avoid watching video or playing processor-intensive (or any) games and send text messages rather than make voice calls. It takes more battery power to make a voice call than send a text.

Do you really need to check social media right now?

Use Low Power Mode

The first step you should always take is turning on Low Power Mode.

The easiest way to enable this is to swipe down from the top right side of your iPhone and then tap the Battery icon you should see there. This slightly dims the screen, limits background processes, slightly slows the processor and otherwise trims the energy demanded by your device in normal use.

You can also enable Low Power Mode in Settings>Battery>Low Power Mode.

NB: If the Battery icon does not appear in your Control Center, visit Settings>Control Center>Customize and enable Low Power Mode there.

Switch to Dark Mode

When you use your iPhone, your display’s True Tone feature automatically adjusts display brightness to make colors appear consistent in different places.

The thing is, this also means your display will be brighter when used in bright places, such as when outside. The downside: when your display is brighte,r you’ll be using more power to display what’s on it.

Recent tests suggest that there’s an appreciable difference in battery life if you use Dark Mode on your iPhone and with your apps. If you are trying to extend battery life, even a 1% or 2% improvement means you’ll get more time between every charge.

NB: In Settings>Display & Brightness you can disable Automatic appearance and True Tone and set the brightness levels down as low as possible in order to conserve battery life.

Switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

I know this recommendation doesn't apply if you are using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to get things done. But if you aren’t, then you'll see an extension to your battery life if you simply switch Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth off.

You can do this in Settings, but the easiest way is to summon Control Center and then long press either the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth icon until the network controls appear. Now you can switch one or both networking standards off.

Halt Motion and Dynamic Backgrounds

Low Power Mode should mitigate both of these features, but to be certain you aren’t wasting valuable energy on eye candy, disable these:

Motion: Settings> Accessibility>Motion>Reduce Motion and toggle to on (green).

Dynamic Backgrounds: Settings>Wallpaper>Choose a New Wallpaper and select a static wallpaper from the ‘Stills’ section.

Turn off App Location Services

Lots of apps (more than you realize) think they need to track your location to work. The thing is, all those little GPS interrogations and data harvesting of your location use energy, and you’re reading this article because you want to conserve energy. So disable App Location Services.

Open Settings>Privacy>Location Services and toggle this to off.

While you’re at it, why not take a moment to review which apps are currently accessing location data. Do you use those apps often enough that you want to let them?

NB: You can also disable some system activities – scroll down the page at Settings>Privacy>Location Services and tap System Services. You can pretty safely disable Location-Based Apple Ads, Popular Near Me and iPhone Analytics without impacting your user experience. And while the power saving may be tiny, it may just be the tiny tweak of energy you need.

Use AirPlane Mode

Another way to disable Wi-FI, Bluetooth and your cellular connection is to use AirPlane Mode (Control Center, tap the plane icon).

If you want to continue using one of those features, you can switch them on again individually while remaining in AirPlane mode.

Perhaps you want to keep Wi-Fi active, but don’t need calls or Bluetooth, for example. Just jump into Control Center and reenable the networking activity you need or leave them all off for significantly improved battery life.

Switch it off

Sleeping? Unless you really expect to receive a call or utterly rely on your iPhone for your morning alarm call, why not switch off your device? If you sleep for eight hours,  that will save you approximately one-third of your daily charge.

(Don't forget, your device uses energy to launch again, so if you're really slim on power you may be unable to wake it up once you switch it off).

Stop Siri listening – disable ‘Hey Siri’

When you activate Siri (even by accident) it uses a little energy to wake up, listen to you, and then consult the Siri servers for a response (unless it knows the answer on your device).

One way to prevent this is to open Settings>General>Siri and toggle the ‘Hey Siri’ command to Off. You will still be able to summon Siri by tapping the Home (iPhone 8 and earlier) or Side (iPhone X or later) buttons.

Check your battery hogs

Some apps are more addictive than others. By the same token, some apps use more energy than others. Open Settings>Battery and take a look at the Battery Usage by App section.

This shows you which apps are using the most energy. In my case, I’ve frequently found WhatsApp, Mail and social media to be greedy for my battery power.

When I need to save battery life, I’ve been known to disable the background app activity for the most energy consuming apps, or simply switched on Low Power Mode which has the same effect.

NB: At one time, Facebook was the least energy-efficient app on my device; that’s no longer a problem now that I only access that service through a browser.

Plan before you go

Being prepared is the best defense.

One way to ensure you always have enough battery power for your device is to use an Apple battery iPhone case (or a third-party equivalent), or use an external battery pack (mophie is popular in the U.S.), carry a solar charging device and/or always ensure you have a power adapter and cable with you when you travel.

I hope these tips help you get where you’re going without running out of power. When you get there (and charge your device up again), feel free to follow me on one of the social media links below. And if you have any other power-saving tips to share, do drop me a line and I’ll update this story. Travel well!

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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