How To

How to improve battery life on your iPhone

Fix battery life on iOS 8

Are you looking for a way to fix battery life on iOS 8 or your new iPhone 6? With each major iOS release, we see a rush of folks who are experiencing some sort of battery drain, that’s not in keeping with their past experiences. If you have an old iPhone that had been running the latest version of iOS 7, it included several updates from Apple that have fixed bugs and optimized battery life. iOS 8 may look and feel much like iOS 7, but it’s got a number of new features and it’s a major update. That translates to significant changes to the underlying code that runs on your iPhone. So whether you have upgraded an older iPhone to iOS 8 or experiencing battery life issues with your new iPhone 6, there is no magical fix, at least yet. You can expect that future point releases should provide for some welcome improvements. So, what can you do in the interim? Here are some tried and true ways to improve your battery life and make use of the new Battery Usage options available to you in iOS 8.

Fix battery life on iOS 8

Update Your Apps

Have you looked the App Store icon on your home screen recently? If not, chances are that you’ll see a red badge with a large number of apps that are desperately seeking to be updated. When Apple updates iOS each year, they make significant changes and developers have to modify the coding of their apps to come in compliance. In some cases, this includes supporting new features like widgets, but others are just updating their apps to keep them optimized and stable for iOS 8. In either case, you’ll want to keep your applications up to date. To do so, open the App Store, tap on the update tab and select ‘Update All’. Apple also makes it easy to have your apps updated automatically. This is also a good idea. Although iOS 8 is out, developers are still working hard to push out updates. You can expect this to continue throughout the end of 2014. To configure auto updating of your apps, open Settings > iTunes App Store > Automatic Downloads > Toggle Updates to ‘On’ or green.

Turn off automatic app updates

Evaluate Your Usage Patterns

When tackling battery problems, it’s important to look at usage patterns. Have things changed in how you use your iPhone? If you upgraded to the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’ve been using it more frequently. That’s common and expected. Going from an old iPhone to a shiny new iPhone 6 will often result in your head down and power on. While Apple rates the new iPhones as having greater battery life than their predecessors, more use always translates to a quicker dispersal of your battery. Speaking from experience, my iPhone 6 Plus usage during the launch weekend was anything but typical. For one, I chose to setup as new. That meant I was rifling through each app that required a password for access. The iPhone 6 Plus, in particular, is a conversation starter. I was quick to show off its beautiful screen by firing up Netflix and view photos, videos from my personal collection. I can say unequivocally that my usage patterns were drastically different and more battery intensive.

iOS 8 Battery Usage Monitor (Battery Shaming)

New in iOS 8 is Battery Usage, which displays apps and the percentage of battery life that has been used by them. This can viewed either by the last 24 hours or the last 6 days. Both provide extremely interesting data points, but they can be misleading. An application that is topping the charts might not indicate a problem, but rather how you use your iPhone. If you’re on Tweetbot all day, the battery usage will reflect just that.

 

Battery Usage iOS 8

I’d caution you not to look at the numbers and start deleting apps. Instead, take a look at what apps are drawing power, but aren’t among apps that you use on a day-in, day-out basis. For example, I noticed that Foursquare had been using 2% of my battery. This provides me with a couple of options. For one, if I no longer use the app, I could just delete it. To do so, press and hold the icon until they jiggle. Press the ‘x’ in the top right to delete the app. Problem solved.

Delete apps

You shouldn’t start deleting apps if you plan to use them. I don’t use Foursquare frequently, but I would like the option to use for the infrequent check-in at Starbucks. One culprit could be that you have Background App Refresh enabled for that app. This is a feature that allows apps to refresh their content when on WiFi or cellular in the background. Apple themselves note that “turning off apps may help preserve battery life.” Bingo! Take a look at your usage list and cross reference it with apps that have Background App Refresh enabled.

Location Services

When you setup your iPhone 6, you likely enabled Location Services. It utilizes GPS, crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspots and cell tower locations to determine your location. More and more applications are using Location Services. Even if an app isn’t used for mapping, finding restaurants or checking in, it can be used to tag your location for a social app like Facebook or Twitter. When a handful of apps are using Location Services, it shouldn’t be of concern. Using my Foursquare example above, I’m not so certain I want the trade-off of having the app take anything from my battery. I can leave it on my iPhone, but disable location services. If at some point, I go on a check-in rampage, I can simply reverse the process. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. The toggle at the top will turn it off globally.

Locations services iOS 8

As we did above with battery usage, cross reference that list with applications that have Location Services enabled. You might find some that will still work, but maybe you don’t want them to have location permissions.

When you start disabling things, remember not to disable the important stuff. At the top of that list is Find My iPhone. That services is phenomenal and could mean the difference between losing and finding a $650 iPhone 6 you left behind at a bar or restaurant.

Start Fresh

Ghosts in the machine. No, not the classic Police album, but gremlins that may exist inside your iPhone. Apple makes it incredibly easy to backup and restore your iPhone. It’s virtually painless. All of your apps, settings and data magically makes its way to your new iPhone 6. Similarly, those upgrading to iOS 8, also receive the jetpack upgrade. There are a myriad of reasons why with each upgrade or new iPhone, it makes sense to setup as new. If there are lingering issues affecting the battery, you’re carrying them over to the new phone or operating system. That’s not to say that plenty of folks restore from backup without any issues. That’s probably more the norm. However, when you are trying to remove potential problems, why not start with a clean slate. It’s filled with hassles, like re-entering passwords, getting apps downloaded and getting things organized.

Setup as new iPhone

Top 5 Tips To Improving Battery Life in iOS 8

In addition to the suggestions outlined above, these are the top ten tips for improving battery life in iOS 8. There’s a fine line between squeezing out more battery life and making changes to impact the overall user experience. These should help and won’t impact your overall iPhone experience, other than being able to use it longer throughout your day.

1. Auto-Lock: Your iPhone has a setting that puts the phone to sleep and back into lock mode. Go to Settings > General > Auto-Lock. You’ll want to check the box for ’1 minute’, which is the lowest possible setting. The best way to conserve is to manually put your iPhone to sleep using the sleep/wake button.

Auto-lock

2. Turn Off Automatic Update: Ok, we’re going against the grain here. Earlier, it was suggested that enabling this feature would keep your apps updated. That’s true, but it will also mean more downloads during the day. It’s your call. Maybe setup a routine to update apps every night, when you’re close to a power source?

Auto app updates

3. Notifications: Notifications are great. They help keep us up to date without having to turn on our phones. Over time, enabling notifications across all of your apps can present a number of problems. First off, it can be incredibly disruptive to your work day, having to continuously look down at your iPhone. They can also be detrimental to our goal of improving battery life. I’m not saying you have to do something crazy like turning off all notifications, but at a minimum, turn off notifications where you absolutely do not need them. You can adjust your settings by navigating to Settings > Notifications > Name of App. Toggle ‘Allow Notifications’ to Off for maximum benefit.

Notifications

4. Turn Down Brightness: These massive retinaHD displays require power. You can easily cut the usage down by choosing either ‘Auto’ or manually lowering your brightness. Navigate to Settings > Wallpapers and Brightness: Manually slide left to lower the brightness to a lower, but acceptable level. Another option is to set to Auto-Brightness. If you toggle that option to ‘On’ (green), your iPhone will naturally adjust the brightness depending upon your location.

Brightness

5. Wallpaper: Navigate to Settings > Wallpaper. Make sure that you are using either one of the stills or your photo. If you are using Dynamic wallpaper, make the change to one of the still options. As an interesting side-note, Apple updated iOS 8 wallpapers for the still category, but didn’t add any dynamic wallpapers.

still wallpaper

 

When there are major software releases, it’s quite common to see users complaining of battery life problems. These are major software updates with new features and tremendous amounts of code changes, some of which can impact the optimization of battery life on iOS devices.  Apple’s insistence on shipping new hardware and software each year at the same time doesn’t help matters. By releasing software at the same time, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on their developers to ship by a set date. You can be sure that before the iPhone 6 was even announced, developers were already hard at work on updates to iOS 8. While the beta testing period helps Apple pinpoint problems, the public release is so widely adopted that it can certainly help unearth potential problems. There is no magical fix for battery problems, other than a software update from Apple. That in mind, there are ways that you can improve battery life. Using the steps outlined, take a methodical approach, with the help of Apple’s new Battery Usage monitor. When combined with our battery saving tips, you’ll be on your way to getting the most from your iPhone.

How does your battery usage compare with other iPhone 6 owners?

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. EricW

    September 22, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I think most of these issues stem from installing over an older OS or restoring an older phone backup on a newer phone.

    For new phone releases or Major upgrades of the OS (7 to 8)…start over and don’t update. Meaning add the iPhone 6 as a new device or install the newest IOS as a clean install and not as an update.

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