The ultimate guide to solving iOS battery drain

“I worked on the Genius Bar for almost two years, and the most difficult issue to solve was short battery life,” Scotty Loveless writes for Overthought. “It was extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why someone’s battery was draining.”

“I made it my mission to discover the specific reasons for iOS battery drainage. This article is a product of my years of research and anecdotal evidence I gathered in the hundreds of Genius Bar appointments I took during my time as a Genius and iOS technician, as well as testing on my personal devices and the devices of my friends,” Loveless writes. “This is not one of those “Turn off every useful feature of iOS” posts that grinds my gears. My goal is to deliver practical steps to truly solve your iOS battery woes.”

“One quick thing before we start — 99.9% of the time it is not actually iOS that is causing your battery to drain quickly,” Loveless writes. “I guarantee you that if you erased your phone and there were no apps or email on it, it would last for ages. But, no one uses their device like that, nor should they. Hopefully with these steps you will be living in iOS battery bliss while still using all the apps and features you love.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Wingsy” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Rush Limbaugh offers fixes for iOS 7.1 battery drain, Notification Center bug – March 18, 2014
iOS 7.1: How to correct reduced battery-life performance issues – March 15, 2014

24 Comments

  1. Great post, MDN… excellent advice/help from someone who actually knows what he is talking about! I especially like the recommendation that users of iOS devices quit obsessing about their battery lives.

    1. I find this to be annoying too. iOS is making a prediction only, according to momentary use. This gets ultra-annoying when you hit the 20% mark while doing something energy intensive, then you back off and only listen to music and the battery percentage jumps up again. Then the 20% warning hits again. Them maybe again. So much for machine intelligence at this point in technology history.

      1. That’s like going on a trip and your GPS says your ETA is 5:00PM, then you get stuck is traffic for 20 minutes and when you’re free of it the GPS says your ETA is 5:15PM. Do you complain of that too?

    1. Or, if you can deal with dangly things: I always bring a spare battery with me that I can connect to my iOS devices via its charger cable. The one I got is from Griffin Tech. It charges via its retractable USB connector to either a USB port or a USB charger. When my iOS devices are getting low on energy, I plug in the extra battery and off I go. It recharges the iOS device battery and itself provides further energy.

  2. Just read the full article and agree the guy does know what he is talking about. Just goes to prove that IOS is not as easy as some make out, nor does it “just work” these are fixes that take a lot of knowledge or playing with the system to find out.

    There has been a need to improve the iPhones battery life for a long while now, too many denials and stories that they have a great battery life compared to other phones while actually the opposite was true. I hope that when (if) a new larger iPhone is bought out it will start to have a battery life that matches other phones out there. Apple can do it, the iPads battery life is fantastic as is the Macbook Air, the iPhone has too long been a poor brother in this area.

  3. Three things I’d add to this article:

    1) Apple has their own article about optimizing your iOS device battery. As per usual of late, Apple’s documentation team has been lazy and only written this article for iPhones. But it’s extremely valid for other iOS devices:

    http://www.apple.com/batteries/iphone.html

    2) Adjust the brightness of your iOS device screen to fit your current environment. Apple’s article, linked above, covers this issue. But it deserves reiteration. If you have your device needlessly blasting light onto the screen, you’re needlessly burning the battery. (Palm devices used to make this dirt easy where you could simply run your finger up the screen to get to the brightness control. It’s slightly more annoying on iOS). Yes, the Auto-Brightness control does this for you, but you can provide your own calibration to further save battery life.

    3) Recondition your iOS device’s battery monthly, or there a bouts. Describing why this is important would no doubt trigger a flame war. Instead, I’ll send you off to one of many useful How To articles:

    http://www.macblend.com/how-to-calibrate-your-mac-iphone-or-ipad-battery/

    1. “3) Recondition your iOS device’s battery monthly, or there a bouts.”

      You probably wouldn’t risk a flame war if you quoted the article correctly. This is not reconditioning the battery, it’s recalibrating the battery level software. Li-Ion batteries don’t need “reconditioning” like the old NiCads did.

      I’ve had my 5S since day one and have never had to do this, but if I obsessed over my battery life I would have probably done it 6 times by now.

        1. No, my post is not irresponsible. As an electronics engineer, I’ve designed several Li-Ion chargers and I know what I’m talking about. I’ve done my homework on this subject many times. It is you, the uneducated, who is the dumbass.

          1. http://www.redmondpie.com/how-to-calibrate-iphone-and-ipad-battery-life-for-maximum-performance-tutorial/

            Even though our mobile devices bring the world to our fingertips with some mind-blowing technology, they can still benefit from a little house-keeping, and having demonstrated as much only yesterday with a guide on re-tuning the auto-brightness feature, below we’re going to show you how to calibrate the battery of your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. . .

          2. http://www.macworld.com/article/2046209/fact-or-fiction-nine-iphone-and-ipad-battery-saving-techniques-tested.html

            5. ‘Calibrating my battery will help preserve battery life.’

            As you leave the house, you check your phone and see that you have 4 hours of battery life remaining—but 3 hours later, you run out of juice. If this has happened to you, your iPhone or iPad might need a battery calibration. Apple recommends that you periodically drain your iPhone or iPad’s battery completely and then charge it until it’s completely full. This process, called calibration, helps your device estimate its remaining battery life more accurately. Calibrating your battery will ensure that you know when to charge your battery, but it doesn’t make your battery last longer.

          3. http://trialsandtribstech.blogspot.com/2012/09/improving-iphone-5-battery-life-in-ten.html

            5. Calibrate your battery. This is accomplished by draining your battery down to under 5% and charging it up to 100%. Results may vary with this option but on previous iOS devices people have reported a significant increase in battery life. One caveat to this is that I recommend using a highly-rated battery charging app so you can be sured your battery is fully charged for accurate calibration. I use the Battery Boost Magic to ensure that, as the battery charges, it trickle charges up to a true 100%. This usually takes ~2 hours but it is definitely worth it. Doing a full charge cycle from below 25% to 100% is also said to prolong the life of your battery.

            BOOM! Head shot!
            Retributional dickhead mode concluded.

            1. This is useless. You’re one of those types who are so insecure about what you think you know that you switch to attack mode at the slightest hint that you may be wrong. That’s not very conducive to learning anything. Anyway… Where you’re wrong is calling it “reconditioning”, which is a term normally applied to NiCad and NiMH batteries, which sometimes DO show a slight to moderate real increase in capacity after being fully discharged & charged. The reason it is called “recalibrating” when applied to Li-Ion is that it is a method used to teach the fuel gauge software what the actual capacity of the battery is as it degrades with long term use. The software needs this info so it can accurately display battery level and to effect an orderly shutdown when it “thinks” your battery is critically low.

              Did you notice that in all the articles you cited that “recalibrating” is what they’re calling it?

              Head shot, indeed.

            2. So, boiling away all the bullshit in your series of posts, what you don’t like is my use of the word ‘reconditioning’, which is a matter of semantics. Conceded!

              See how much easier it is to communicate without shoving out rectal excrement all over people?

              No you don’t.

  4. Good article and some interesting ideas.
    In my typical work day or weekend the battery life is fine. I rarely need to charge during the day and simply charge at night.
    It is when I go out on special events that the battery life sucks. it is certainly true that I do obsess about how much battery is left. So the point about constantly checking the % left is valid. Also exchange activity may contribute to this.
    My own gut feeling is that cellular strength is the killer. When you are in your normal environment you typically do not use the phone as much and the cell strength is constant or you have wifi. Walking around in the countryside or in the city the phone experiences poor or variable reception and the attenna uses more power as a result. So reduce services to the minimum may help here.

  5. Here’s my experience in following the author’s recommendations:

    15 minutes after a full charge I saw “Standby 0 hrs 15 min, Usage 0 hrs 13 min”. Not good. So I turned off background refresh for a number of apps and tested again. Same result. I then turned off Background App Refresh for everything and tested again. Same result! So then I did a hard reset (holding sleep & home buttons) and tested once again. This time standby was 10 min and usage was 1 min. I turned Background App Refresh for everything back on and got the same result (standby 10, usage 1). And this morning I see standby at 23 hrs 45 min, and usage at 1 hr, 54 min, with 73% battery remaining. Not bad at all. But why did it take a hard reset to actually change things?

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