In an extensive research note covering Apple's product roadmap for 2014, KGI Securities Ming Chi Kuo reiterated expectations that Apple is... -
/hr. 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. 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.
iOS 7.1 came out recently and brought with it a bevy of design tweaks and
performance enhancements. However, some users are reporting poor battery
life since the update, and many blogs are reporting it as fact.1
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. 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.
But first, we need to test and see if you even have a problem to begin
How to Test Your iOS Battery Drain
There is a quick and easy battery life test built into your device, if you
do a little bit of math — the Usage and Standby times2. Head on over to
Settings > General > Usage and check out your times.
Your Usage time is how long you have actually used your device, and the
Standby time is how long your device has been dormant in-between the times
you've used it. The key to look for is that your Usage time should be
significantly lower than your Standby time, unless you have been using your
device every single second you've had it unplugged. If this is not the case
and your Usage time is exactly equal to your Standby time, you have a
severe problem. The bottom line is that your Usage time should be accurate
to how much you've used it since you took it off the charger.
So here's the test: write down your usage and standby time, press the
sleep/wake button (or lock button, as some call it) to put the device to
sleep, and set the device down for five minutes. When you come back, take
note of the change in time. If your device is sleeping properly, then the
Standby time should have increased by five minutes and your Usage time by
<1 minute 3. If your Usage time rises by more than one minute, you have a
drain problem. Something is keeping your device from sleeping properly,
significantly shortening the time it will last.
If you do not have a battery drain issue, then great! You don't even need
the steps listed in this article. But if you or someone you know is
constantly complaining about how short their battery lasts, read onward or
send this post to them.
Here are the main causes of iOS battery drain I've found, and how to
Step 1: Disable Location and Background App Refresh for Facebook
This first step may seem extremely specific, but that's because it is
extremely common and extremely effective. It has also been well tested and
confirmed on many devices.
I just got the iPhone 5s about two weeks ago, and thought my battery was
draining a little too quickly. Being the nerd that I am, I decided to run
the app Instruments from Xcode, Apple's developer tool, in order to see
what the problem was. Basically, Instruments acts as an Activity Monitor
for your iPhone, allowing developers (or nerds like me) to see every
process currently running and how much memory and processing power each app
is using in real-time.
During this testing, Facebook kept jumping up on the process list even
though I wasn't using it. So I tried disabling Location Services 4 and
Background App Refresh 5 for Facebook, and you'll never guess what
happened: my battery percentage increased. It jumped from 12% to 17%.
Crazy. I've never seen that happen before on an iPhone. The iPod touch
exhibits this behavior, to my memory, although I haven't tested it in a
while. For the iPhone, the battery percentage is usually pretty consistent.
I have confirmed this behavior on multiple iPhones with the same result:
percentage points actually increase after disabling these background
functions of Facebook.
Bad, Facebook, bad.
Step 2: Disable Background App Refresh for Apps You Don't Care About
My recent post explains the benefits of Background App Refresh. BAR 7 is an
awesome feature added in iOS 7, but you don't necessarily need it running
for every app that supports it. Disable Background App Refresh for Facebook
or other apps you don't absolutely need to stay up-to-date all the time.
If there are apps you check regularly, and you trust the quality of the app
and developer, then enable Background App Refresh with confidence and enjoy
your apps being updated intelligently so they're ready for your enjoyment
at a moment's notice. Background App Refresh is great if you need it, but
you really don't need it for every single app on your iOS device.
Step 3: Stop Quitting Your Apps in Multitasking
iOS 7 made it super fun to close your apps: all you have to do is
double-click the home button and swipe up on the app preview to blast it
into a digital black hole.
What most people tell you is that closing your apps will save your battery
life because it keeps the apps from running in the background.
Yes, it does shut down the app, but what you don't know is that you are
actually making your battery life worse if you do this on a regular basis.
Let me tell you why.
By closing the app, you take the app out of the phone's RAM 8. While you
think this may be what you want to do, it's not. When you open that same
app again the next time you need it, your device has to load it back into
memory all over again. All of that loading and unloading puts more stress
on your device than just leaving it alone. Plus, iOS closes apps
automatically as it needs more memory, so you're doing something your
device is already doing for you. You are meant to be the user of your
device, not the janitor.
The truth is, those apps in your multitasking menu are not running in the
background at all: iOS freezes them where you last left the app so that
it's ready to go if you go back. Unless you have enabled Background App
Refresh, your apps are not allowed to run in the background unless they are
playing music, using location services, recording audio, or the sneakiest
of them all: checking for incoming VOIP calls 9, like Skype. All of these
exceptions, besides the latter, will put an icon next to your battery icon
to alert you it is running in the background. 10
Step 4: Disable Push Email Temporarily
If steps 1 through 3 did not solve your problem, try disabling Push email
temporarily to see if it helps 11. Push email allows your device to receive
instant notifications every time you get an email. It is great if you need
to know when every single email comes in, but does impact battery if
I've seen many devices where Push is the primary cause of battery drain,
but I've also seen plenty of devices have great battery life with Push
enabled. It is really specific to your email and server settings. Try
changing the setting to Fetch every hour, thirty minutes, or fifteen
minutes and see if the drain stops. If that doesn't help, turn it back on.
You could also trying disabling Push on individual accounts if you have
multiple. Just keep referring to the test at the beginning of the article
to see if that resolved your issue.
Unbelievably often, especially with Exchange push email, it's as if the
phone gets stuck in a loop checking for email constantly. When this
happens, the phone will usually die within six hours of being off the
charger, and the Standby and Usage times in Settings > General > Usage will
be exactly the same. These times are not the same because the "firmware 12
is bad or corrupted", it's because push email is keeping the phone from
Step 5: Disable Push Notifications for Apps That Annoy You
Does that annoying game your child downloaded keep sending you push
notifications to keep buying more digital sheep for the virtual farm? If
so, every time you get one of those notifications, your phone wakes from
sleep for a few seconds to light up your screen and wait for your potential
action upon each notification.
Push notifications do not cause excess battery drain by default, so please
don't hear me say you need to turn them all off. However, every message
wakes your device for 5 to 10 seconds, so it can add up. If you receive 50
notifications during the day and never act on them, that will add 4 to 8
minutes to your Usage time, meaning you now have that much less time to do
things you actually want to do on your device. 13
Turn off those annoying Push notifications for apps you don't need
notifications from. It might be a small difference, but it can add up.
Step 6: Turn Off Battery Percentage
That's right, you heard me.
Turn off that battery percentage meter and stop worrying about your battery
drain. You can find this setting in Settings > General > Usage, right above
where your battery times are listed.
One thing I found in my Genius Bar experience is that people that are
anxious about their iOS device battery life are constantly checking it to
see the percentage and how much it has dropped from the last time they
checked it. So if you check your device twice as much, simply to check on
the battery life, you are essentially halving the time your device will
Stop freaking out and enjoy your life. There are more important things to
worry about than your device's battery life. The control freak inside you
might freak out the first few days you do this, but you'll get used to it.
Step 7: Go to an Apple Retail Store
Update: I was informed after posting this that the Apple battery test only
runs on the iPhone 5 and up.
I know, you hate making a Genius Bar appointment because it's loud and
crazy in there, but I have a good reason to add this to the list.
According to my sources, Apple has rolled out a new 'Extended Battery Life
Test' for all iOS technicians that allows them to see a detailed report of
battery usage on your device. It takes only a few minutes to run and, from
what I've heard, is comprehensive. I have not had a chance to see this test
for myself, but my friends tell me it rocks.
The other rare possibility is that your physical battery is defective, and
the technicians can replace it for free if your iOS device is under
warranty, or very cheaply if it's not.
I guarantee you that if you follow these steps, you will be getting the
best battery life possible out of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
If your device is still not lasting you a full day, and you can't stomach
heading into one of the stainless steel noise chambers I lovingly refer to
as your nearest Apple Retail Store, don't worry. There is still hope for
The reason your device isn't lasting all day might simply be because you
are a heavy user, and your iOS device is acting completely normal under the
grueling pace with which you use it. That is not a fault of the device, or
you, for that matter. You are simply pushing it beyond it's capabilities.
My advice for you is to buy a car charger, a second charger for
travel/work, or a battery case to extend your battery life 15.
I hope this article empowers you to stop stressing about your battery life,
and frees you up to enjoy the great device in your hands. There are more
important things in life that deserve our attention, so the more we
minimize the trivial stressors, like bad battery life, the more time we can
spend on people and problems that really matter.
1. Users will report poor battery life after every iOS update. Always.
For eternity. This is not newsworthy. ↩
2. This only works on the iPhone and iPod touch. Sorry iPad users, for
some reason these times are not viewable. **Update** Reader Timothy
Fultz emailed in to let me know that iPads on iOS 7 do have these
Standby and Usage times. Thanks Timothy! ↩
3. Sometimes the Usage time will go up by one minute, but really it was
only a few seconds. The minute was close to changing, and those few
seconds pushed it over the edge to the next minute. ↩
4. Settings - Privacy - Location Services ↩
5. Settings - General - Background App Refresh ↩
6. Note about battery percentage: it is an estimate of how long your
device will last looking at the amount of charge left in the physical
battery and comparing that to the current processes draining that
bank of electrical charge.
A good thing to compare the way iOS calculates battery percentage is
ETA (estimated time of arrival) in modern GPS and navigation. Most
devices look at the miles left to travel and compare that to the
speed limits of all of the roads you are going to travel on your
current route. If you drive faster than the speed limit, you will get
there faster than the estimated time, so it's not 100% accurate.
Battery percentage estimates work the same way, looking at the amount
of juice left (miles) versus how fast you're draining it (miles per
hour). That explains why disabling Facebook made the percentage go
up, much like how if you stop on a road trip, your ETA climbs
7. short for Background App Refresh, not the awesome Browning Automatic
Rifle used in World War II and by Steve McQueen in the final scene of
"The Sand Pebbles". ↩
8. Temporary, short-term memory. ↩
9. Internet phone calls. ↩
10. Apps that can make or receive calls, like Skype, Viber, Tango,
Whatsapp, and Facebook are able to check for incoming calls without
notifying you. I believe these types of apps sometimes abuse this
exception and could have possibly influenced Apple to add Background
App Refresh as the sanctioned method for this type of behavior.
I think this is why disabling Facebook's background services is so
influential on battery life: I speculate they are abusing the fact
that they have VOIP call features to run in the background more than
they should. It would provide a better experience for people using
Facebook, sure, but people would never know Facebook was the cause of
their battery life issues, and would definitely blame the device or
iOS itself. ↩
11. Settings > Mail, Contacts, and Calendars > Fetch New Data ↩
12. The foundational software connecting hardware and software. ↩
13. That number may seem small, but over a year (x365) that number turns
into 1,460 minutes (about a day) to 2,960 minutes (about two days)
less battery life. ↩
14. I really wish Apple had a "No battery percentage meter except under
20%" setting, so bad. That would be my ideal configuration. ↩
15. Or buy a second iPhone as your night phone ;) ↩ -
/hr. The Steve Jobs email that outlined Apple’s strategy a year before his death
In 2010, a year before his death, Steve Jobs outlined Apple's strategy in an email to the company's 100 most senior employees. He heralded the "Post PC era," vowed "Holy War with Google," promised to "further lock customers into our ecosystem," and warned that Apple was "in danger of hanging on to old paradigm too long." The email... -