The recent revelation that Apple firmware sometimes slows down older iPhones with ageing batteries to prevent them from shutting down unexpectedly has created a perfect storm in the tech world. Apple claims that they have never and would never shorten the life of any of their products deliberately to encourage the purchase of upgrades. They would say that, wouldn’t they! On the contrary, they maintain that their aim has always been to design products that their customers love. And making iPhones last as long as possible is part and parcel of that philosophy of excellent customer service.
Your iPhone is a wonderful companion until it suddenly goes blank. We’ve all been there. The commute home with nothing to read and no-one to phone. The loss of Google maps as you travel into unfamiliar territory. The sickening realisation that the alarm didn’t go off because you forgot to plug in your phone the previous evening. Not only that, it’s frustrating to have to restrict your phone’s usage to avoid that blackout. But the fact is that all rechargeable batteries become less effective and less able to hold a charge because of chemical ageing, something that’s common to all lithium-ion batteries. The number of times a battery has been recharged and extremes of temperature also cause the battery to age more quickly. In addition, the battery becomes less able to deliver peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which is why it shuts down unexpectedly. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prolong your battery life and we’ll look at the main ones.
Start your voyage of iPhone battery discovery by going to Settings>Battery. Make a note of the remaining usage and standby times, then tap the sleep/wake button and wait 10 minutes. Go back to Settings>Battery and see if the standby time has increased by 10 minutes. If it hasn’t, you’ll know something is preventing your iPhone from resting, and it’s likely to be an app. Multiple notifications appearing on the screen while the phone is locked will cause the display to switch on continuously. You can most likely live without some apps, such as recommendations from your favourite TV streaming. So go to Settings>Notifications, find the app and disable the Show on Lock Screen.
And, while we’re on the subject, if you don’t need all apps to be updated automatically, go to Settings>General>Background App Refresh, look at the list and turn off those that don’t need to be. Bear in mind that they’ll still update and work normally when you click on them, but they won’t remain active when they’re not being used. In any case, if you don’t like the change, you can always reverse the action by going back to Settings. Force quitting apps is generally a bad idea, because idle apps don’t use much energy and when you open them again, they can resume from where you left off. But force quitting an app forces it to start again from scratch when it is relaunched and so uses much more energy.
A poorly coded app, even really popular ones such as Facebook and YouTube, can contain bugs that really power down the juice in a matter of hours, even if they’re not in use. If you find that your battery life is going down fast, go to Settings>Battery to discover what’s eating it up. Click on the clock icon next to Last 24 Hours and Last 7 Days, and you’ll see a breakdown of how the apps have been performing – anything with a large amount of background activity will be suspect. Either delete the app, or go to Settings>General>Background App Refresh and switch off that app’s ability to refresh in the background.
Poor cell phone coverage and Wi-Fi, for that matter, have a substantial impact on battery life because your phone is continuously searching for a better signal. If you know you’re going somewhere with poor reception, either keep your phone on charge or switch to Airplane mode (swipe up from the Home screen, open Control Centre and tap the Airplane icon to activate), but remember that you can’t make or receive calls. The same goes for GPS. Unless you’re using a maps app, you should be able to get by without it. Go to Settings, Privacy and Location to disable it.
Excessively bright screens are a huge drain on the battery, especially if you receive a lot of notifications that activate the display or you use your phone a lot. Try turning on Auto-Brightness to dim the display and increase the battery life. Open Control Centre and drag the Brightness slider to alter. Auto-Brightness adjusts your screen to the prevailing lighting conditions automatically. Go to Settings>General>Accessibility, then to Display Accommodations and switch on Auto-Brightness.
Then there’s air temperature. This is the biggest drain on battery life, whether it’s charging or using the phone in the cold. While it is true that extremes of both hot and cold can adversely affect performance and battery life, cold is the real villain. Room temperature – around 20 degrees C/ 70 degrees F is the ideal temperature for charging equipment, but the range can be widened from 5 degrees to 45 C/41 to 113 F. Anything outside this range will be harmful for the battery, especially charging the battery below 0 degrees C/32 degrees F, which can cause permanent damage. Ideally, charge your phone at as close to room temperature as possible, and keep your phone in a pocket when outside in cold weather. Buy a case for your phone if you’re going to be out in cold weather, and don’t leave your phone in a cold car in winter.
If you want to avoid sudden blackouts, but find altering the settings too much of a hassle and time-consuming, how about buying a portable charger until there’s a real breakthrough in battery technology? There is plenty of choice out there, in terms of power output and price, ranging, for example, from one with enough juice for a camping trip to a pocket-sized solution for your daily commute. So either way, there’s no need to suffer any longer!