Why Is My iPhone Battery Draining?

How to prevent your iPhone from excessive battery drain.

We’ve all been there: You’re out with friends, on a road trip, or in nature when you notice your phone’s battery is draining — fast. A portable power bank has become a common accessory for many in recent years, and they can certainly give your device a boost. But if you don’t want to tote around an external accessory, cables, or your charger — or, worse, ask a stranger to borrow theirs — there are quick and simple changes you can make to your device’s setting to extend its battery life.

Before getting started, it’s good to know that iPhone software includes Low Power Mode to help conserve battery. If the setting is on, your phone will automatically begin reducing background activity when the battery drops below a certain level to help you save power until you can charge it again. To turn it on, tap Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode. You’ll know it’s active when the battery icon at the top of your screen switches from green to yellow.

Apps Can Be Power Hogs

The first place to look for drags on your device’s battery performance is your apps. Snapping, tweeting, and messaging burns a lot of power. Find what’s using the most by tapping Settings > Battery > Battery Usage to see a list of each app and its battery consumption over the last 24 hours or seven days. Tap the clock to see how much time you’ve spent in each app and how long it’s been active in the background.

If you see an app eating up a lot of power, you can shut it down. (You might also want to rethink just how important that app is to your day-to-day experience on your phone and, maybe, delete it all together.) But it’s important to know that shutting down apps doesn’t always do the trick. It sounds counterintuitive, but closing out an app can actually decrease your battery life — you’re asking your phone to do more work at exactly the moment you want it to do less. It’s generally better to leave them running in the background. So, if you can, keep your apps open until you can plug into a power source.

No, Really, Apps Can Consume a Ton of Power

There’s another way apps can sneakily siphon off your phone’s juice: by constantly refreshing in the background. Apps do this to give you the most up-to-date info all the time — whether you need it or not. Chances are you won’t, so it’s a good idea to turn background refresh off. Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and turn it off. You can also keep Background App Refresh on for specific apps. Do this by turning on Background App Refresh, and going through the list of apps on the screen and adjusting their refresh settings one by one.

Dim the Lights

It might sound obvious, but the brighter your screen, the greater your battery consumption. Your phone comes equipped with Auto or Adaptive Brightness settings, which dynamically adjust how bright your screen is based on the conditions you find yourself in. (You might need the brightest screen possible when outside, but that will really hurt your eyes — and offend those around you — when you look at your blazingly bright screen in a darker place.)

The best thing to do is turn on Auto-Brightness to help manage your battery usage. You can always turn the setting off if you want more control over how your screen looks. To turn this feature on, tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations and turn on Auto-Brightness. To manually control your screen’s brightness, tap Settings > General > Display & Brightness and use the slider. You can access another brightness slider in the Control Center by locating the bar with the sun icon.

Save Your Screen

Another standard feature on all phones allows you to control when the screen turns off. You can adjust it to stay on for a short amount of time or to never turn off. The faster it turns off when idle, the longer your battery will last. How long the screen stays on is your call, but 30 seconds to 1 minute is recommended. (You should probably never leave it always on, especially if you’re concerned about battery life.) To adjust how long your screen stays on, tap Settings > Display > Auto-Lock.

Change Location Services

Location Services uses cell towers, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth to pinpoint your phone for location-based features like finding the nearest gas station or giving you the most accurate weather report. Helpful? Absolutely. Battery drains? You better believe it.

Like with Background App Refresh, you can turn off Location Services across the board or keep it running on an app-by-app basis. Open Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Tap the on/off switch based on your preference. If you want to keep it on for some apps but not others, turn on Location Services and go through the list of apps below it. For most of them, you can choose Never, While Using the App, or Always.

Something important to keep in mind: Some apps won’t work properly without Location Services (like Maps and Weather). Selecting “While Using the App” (if available) is a safe bet to save the most battery without sacrificing functionality.

Check Your Signal Strength

A common cause of battery drain is poor cell coverage. When this happens, your phone works extra hard to find a signal. The best way to determine if this is the culprit of your device’s power woes is to check the signal bars at the top of your screen. Look for LTE, 4G, or 3G, which indicate that service should be reliable. But if you see No Service, 1X, or have low signal, you’re likely in a low-service area and your phone is attempting to find service that might not be there.

There’s not much you can do to solve this issue (unless you’re planning on building a new cell tower), but you can manage how much power it eats up by switching your phone into Airplane Mode. Simply swipe to open the Control Center and tap the Airplane icon. This turns off the cellular-usage part of your phone, so it won’t keep searching for coverage. When you think you’re in a better location, turn off Airplane Mode and your phone will go back to looking for a signal.

Time for a Restart

Sometimes phones need a break — especially if they haven’t been powered down in a while. So if you’ve tried everything else and the battery is still draining fast, you might try simply turning your phone off, then turning it back on a few moments later. You can also try restarting your device.

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