How To Extend iPhone Battery Lifespan

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Turn off Battery-Intensive Features

By default, the iPhone offers features that rapidly consume battery power. Content refreshes and automatic app updates can drain the battery even when you are not using your iPhone. Features like auto-brightness can sometimes use more power than they save. If your iPhone can deliver 300-500 full charge cycles, these background features will diminish battery lifespan over time. They can also slow your iPhone. For more information on turning off unnecessary features and speeding up your iPhone, please read this article.

Don’t Drop or Shock Your iPhone

Mobile computing devices go with us just about everywhere. Unlike a desktop computer, this makes them more susceptible to drops and shocks. Such trauma can damage lithium-ion batteries, diminishing their capacity or lifespan. In fact, a damaged lithium-ion battery could pose a fire risk.

If you have dropped your iPhone and noticed diminished battery performance and capacity, I recommend having it replaced immediately. Given the possible fire hazard, this is not a suggestion to take lightly.

Although I recommend not using a case, if you are prone to dropping things, protecting your iPhone makes sense. Find a case that can protect your iPhone, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security. Even with a case, dropping your iPhone could damage the battery and increase the risk of fire.

References

Just about every article I have written about iPhone batteries has been met with skepticism. I am often challenged with information from other sites with no science or research behind them. I encourage comments and challenges, but prefer when they originate from fact. It’s remarkable how controversial and superstitious iPhone battery maintenance can be.

People get upset when their 1 year old iPhone can’t hold a charge. It’s expensive to replace the battery, and some people may just opt for a new iPhone. Apple has been notoriously quiet on the finer points of iPhone battery maintenance, which creates problems for writers like me. Some of my suggestions are assumed to be mythical, because Apple is silent on the matter, or recommends a practice that isn’t optimal.

Skepticism is beneficial to a certain extent. It’s all too often that the counter argument comes from a website with no facts but some spiffy design and a modicum of popularity. A lot of websites try to be controversial in order to attract readers. It’s like a poorly behaved dog. It wants attention regardless of whether it’s good or bad.

For these reasons, I provide the sources for this article. Feel free to read them and look at the data on battery lifespan based on several factors. The science doesn’t always agree. Apple may make a claim that Battery University or Electropaedia don’t support. Keep in mind that some sources apply to lithium-ion batteries in general and not the iPhone. Apple’s recommendations ensure a reasonable lifespan for your iPhone’s battery. They strike a balance between convenience and longevity. It doesn’t mean that Apple’s suggestions are optimal.

You also have to find the right balance between convenience and optimal battery life. Even though it’s optimal to charge the iPhone to 58%, I wouldn’t do that myself. Long battery life is one of the iPhone’s best features. For further reading, here’s the science behind this article:

http://www.apple.com/batteries/why-lithium-ion/
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_store_batteries
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/safety_concerns_with_li_ion
http://www.mpoweruk.com/lithium_failures.htm

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28 comments

  1. Hi, so i read your article and you recommend charging an iphone while switched off and charge it beyond 100% whenever i charge, but should i be aware of how many percent is left before i charge? and is it a good idea to charge it only after i fully discharged my iphone’s battery?

    1. If your battery isn’t drained all the way, you have to guesstimate how long it will take to charge up to 100%. I can’t provide this information for all models of iPhones. You can always turn your iPhone on to check the charge status, and then shut it off again.

      You don’t need to drain your battery all the way every time you charge. In fact, it’s not good for your battery. The iPhone does a trickle charge after it reaches 80%, so I try to charge my iPhone before it gets below 80%. Draining and recharging it is for calibration. Topping off is the best practice for routine charging.

      For more information, please read “How to Extend iPhone Battery Lifespan”.

  2. Very useful information, thank you! I just got an iPhone 7, and was wondering how to prolong the battery, and about whether battery cycling was still necessary. I appreciate that you provided detailed information about why things work the way that they do, and that you added sources and a disclaimer about your personal opinions. Overall really grear article!

    1. Yes. The iPhone 7 uses the same lithium-ion battery technology. As the battery ages and its capacity diminishes, the iOS estimate of battery life becomes less accurate. Calibrating fixes this.

  3. Hi!!! Please explain to me — what is topping off? Sorry I don’t understand. What percentage should your battery be before your charge it. You said when your battery is 80 percent you charge it? I do understand that charging more than 100 percent is ideal like what you said, but please answer my questions!! Thanks.

    1. Topping off is when you charge your iPhone before it is fully drained. That’s what most people do, and it’s fine. I try to recharge my iPhone before it gets below 80%. At 80% and above, it does a trickle charge. This puts less stress on the battery. Really, you can charge your iPhone at any percentage. It’s more important that you turn your iPhone off and take it out of the case when charging. This will minimize heat and prolong the battery’s lifespan.

      I think you’d really like this article. It covers how to prolong the lifespan of the iPhone battery in great detail.

  4. And also… I’m using airplane mode and wifi at the same time… Is it fine? My cellular data is also off.

  5. Hey, I already read your article about how to extend the iPhone battery’s lifespan and I need your help. I have an iPhone 6 with iOS 10.1.1, every time I fully charge it, it will only last about 2 hours. I think the problem is the iOS version that’s too big for my iPhone. I don’t know how my battery’s condition is right now, but all I know is that I can’t charge my iPhone the right way…

    Maybe if I roll back to iOS 8? Will it become normal again?

    Thank you! Sorry for my bad English.

    1. While there may be a bug with iOS 10 that affects battery life, I would try calibrating the battery first. If this doesn’t work, you may need to replace the battery or buy a new iPhone. The iPhone battery won’t last forever, and if you use it a lot, it’s not unusual for an iPhone 6’s battery to be on its last legs.

      Rolling back to iOS 8 isn’t really possible, unless you jailbreak. Apple stops signing iOS releases shortly after the new one is launched.

      Is your iPhone shutting down at about 30%? That’s what happens with the iOS 10 bug. If that’s not the case, it may just need to be calibrated. The battery may have also just reached the end of its lifespan.

  6. Hi,this is a great article, really jealous with your iphone 4 that can still have 8-10 hours usage on one charge. I am one of the guy that really wants to have long battery life on his iPhone. So I did research right after I got my new 6s, I read some other good articles and technical articles on Battery Universe. I then chose to always try to top off my phone whenever it gets below 70%, and unplug it when reaches 90%. I always try to not to get it charged to 100%. What do you think about this?

    I also get it that the more charge the battery currently holds the more stress it has. That’s why I always tried to not get it to 100%. I don’t mind not having 100% capacity in my iphone, because I always have my charger beside me most of the time. One thing that I want to ask, will it then decrease my battery overall capacity?

    Last question, as you said you try to top off your phone before it gets to 80%,and you said that after 80% trickle charge will happen. Does it mean that 100% battery with trickle charge from 80% will have way less stress than one that doesn’t have trickle charge?

    I find it quite contradictory, bigger % means bigger stress on battery, but you always try to top it off before it gets to 80% (I assume you also always try to top it off to 100% and beyond.) I might have misunderstood you along the way, but really appreciate it if you can enlighten me. Thanks.

    1. I actually cover undercharging the iPhone in my “How To Extend iPhone Battery Lifespan” article. Yes, if you undercharge your iPhone, it puts less stress on the battery. This is done with satellite batteries, as they are not easy to replace. But I think most iPhone users want their battery to last all day. That 10% could mean the difference between and hour or more of battery life. I personally charge my iPhone batteries to 100% and beyond. None of them have shown any signs of problems. In addition to my iPhone 4, I still have a 2011 iPad 2 that also has great battery life. It’s possible that Apple’s 100% (and even beyond) charge is still not maxing out the battery’s capacity. I know a common complaint with their competitor’s smartphone is that, after a year, people often get only 30% of the capacity. They both use lithium ion batteries. I think even 100% and beyond on an Apple device is still below the battery’s max capacity. It seems to be done to reduce stress on the battery.

      In the battery lifespan article, I do mention this as an option, but I don’t think it is necessary. In my experience, charging to 100% and beyond doesn’t seem to damage the battery. For the purposes of this article, charging should be done to beyond 100% when calibrating the iPhone.

      For your second question, I think an iPhone battery that is charged to 80% (avoiding the trickle charge) will last longer than one that is charged to 100%. But losing two or more hours of battery life is unacceptable to most people. The iPhone does a trickle charge over 80% in order to minimize stress on the battery. But yes, a battery charged to 100% and beyond will be under more stress than one charged to 80%. That said, my Apple devices last a long time, even when charged to 100% and beyond. I recommend charging to 100% because your battery will still last far longer than the device is useful. I replaced my iPhone 4 a few years ago, but I still use it as a “coffee table” device. I will be replacing my iPad 2 next month. Really, I could keep using it for years, in terms of battery capacity. But the device is slow and the browser crashes constantly, probably due to a lack of RAM on the older device, along with Apple’s neglect of web technology. (After all, a great web browser would only benefit their competitor.)

      The things that really destroy battery life are charging it in a case (which even Apple discourages) and charging while the phone is on. If, for example, you do an iOS upgrade with the iPhone plugged in, your iPhone will get warm and the battery will be damaged. This is usually why I see a spike in this article’s views after a major iOS release. Also, hot weather, whether charging the iPhone or not, will reduce the battery’s lifespan. Never, ever leave an iPhone in a hot car. Not even if you turn it off. People also used to damage their WiFi module after major iOS upgrades, from heat related issues. Apple seems to have fixed this. It affected their older “glass sandwich” phones — iPhone 4 and 4s.

  7. Really informative article! I’m guilty of many of the things you mentioned, hence my iPhone 6 battery ended up not being able to hold a charge after 2 yrs and I had to have the battery replaced yesterday. Re. some points in your article, can you please clarify the following:
    – turning off the phone before charging – even when I do this, my iphone 6 wakes up the moment it is plugged in for charging. Is there a trick to keep it off while charging?
    – charging to 100% and beyond – what do you mean by “beyond”? Is it continuing to charge the phone even when % shows 100%? How many hours more is advisable? And if indeed you are able to keep phone off while charging, how do you know up to what % it is charged?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. You can turn off your iPhone while charging by turning it off after the charging cable is attached. It should stay off. My iPhone 6 does.

      Charging beyond 100% is something an Apple SVP mentioned. The 100% level means that the battery is charged enough to last for the expected charge cycle. The iPhone continues to charge beyond 100%, but the battery meter doesn’t display 101% or anything like that. If you’re using the original charger and your iPhone is turned off, 5 hours should be more than enough time to fully charge your device.

    1. Charging overnight is fine. I recommend shutting down the phone while it charges. It will reduce heat and charge the device faster. You can’t really overcharge an iPhone, because the power IC manages the charging process.

  8. Hi I know this Ian a fairly old post but I hope you still reply.

    I know you covered a lot in the article including it best to have the device off while charging but I was wondering your thoughts on topping off vs it always being plugged in as someone who is now no longer ever away from my desk I tend to just leave it plugged in all the time.

    I know you said to avoid charging while doing high heat generating things like playing games but what about when it’s just mostly idle?

    1. It’s best to charge the phone when it’s off, but I don’t always do that either. Pay attention to heat. If your device is getting warm, the battery will be affected, but by how much is hard to determine. This is my rule of thumb. I charge my device when it’s on sometimes, but if it gets too warm, I shut it down.

  9. I’m very confused with the article.
    it seems that you’re stating that

    (1) Don’t let your battery go below 80%, charge at 80 till 100% using trickle charge but that will stress the battery

    (2) Charge only till 58% or 80% and that will reduce stress on battery.

    Leaving aside the fact that people need phones to run the whole day, my question is
    What is better for the battery if one has the ability to charge anytime during the day?

    Thanks

    1. I think I mis-typed what i wanted to ask. What I’d like to know is which is better

      (1) Charge to 100% whenever battery drops to 80% – trickle charge for heat but stresses battery. So still a partial charge.

      (2) Charge to 58% whenever battery drops to 38% – fast charge, no heat/stress issue, still a partial charge.

      The advantage that is listed in the article – Having a fully charged battery is really irrelevant if one starts charging whenever battery drops to around 80%. So the above 2 options are the same and it seems option (2) is better for battery.

      Any comments?

      1. Thank you for your comment. I understand what you’re asking.

        It’s sometimes useful to have a fully charged battery. If I’m at home during the day and I top off my iPhone’s battery when it’s at 80%, then I go out for the evening, I’m pretty set. This will stress out your battery, but the advantage is your phone will almost always have a lot of capacity. This is useful if you have an on-call career (physician, data center ops) or an active social life.

        Yes, option 2 is better for the battery. This is what they do in satellites, because it’s difficult to replace the batteries.

  10. Thank you for the response and an excellent article that really gave me information that I’d never looked at before.

    You’re right that having a full battery is preferable depending upon one’s lifestyle. In most cases, if one has a 60% charged battery in the evening then its all good.

    I took the liberty of putting the second option to start charging at 38% to have the same amount of partial charge – 20% that you recommended – 80 till 100. Not sure if you agree with that or would you prefer to discharge till 20% and then charge till 58%. anyhow this charge is fast-charge.

    Thanks again

    1. Also, was wondering what your thoughts on quick charge versus tickle charge.
      Which one is better for the battery?

      Depending upon the answer, I can select one of the options
      – charge at 80 till battery is 100 OR
      – charge at 38 till battery is 58

      Thanks again,

      1. The second option is best. The laptop I am typing on right now (LG Gram) has an option to stop charging the battery at 80% to prolong the cell’s lifespan. I turn this setting off and let it charge to 100% only if I’m going out and need a lot of battery life. I also do it occasionally to run it up to 100% and back down to 0% without a charge in between. With most smart batteries, this helps calibrate the meter.

        Also, when I charge my personal phone, if it needs to be on, I only do it 20 minutes at a time. If your phone is turned on and you’re charging it, even if there are no apps running, it will generate heat which degrades the battery faster.

        I need to review this article and update it. I’m working on a very long article about the complete history of iOS right now. After that, I’ll revise this piece with some of my more recent findings.

  11. Hello,
    Thanks for the info. Will wait for your next update.

    Will the phone still generate a lot of heat if while charging it is ON but no apps are running (they’re closed) and there is no app that has Background Refresh turned on?

    1. You’re welcome. Thank you for the comment.

      Yes. It will still generate some heat, as the cellular connection is running. Furthermore, when plugged in to a charger, the iPhone takes advantage of its operational certainty to sync with iCloud, download (but not install) updates, run backups and conduct other optimization processes. You can stop most of these by putting the device in Airplane mode. Of course, you won’t be able to receive calls.

      When my iPhone was my main device, I used to either turn it off or put it in Airplane mode while charging. Living in SF, I have very poor Internet connectivity. Sometimes plugging in an iPhone would pretty much consume my network’s bandwidth. Apple takes advantage of a plugged in, idle phone to accomplish some tasks.

      Of course, sometimes you need to have your iPhone plugged in and online. That’s when your iPhone will run backups. If you want to keep your battery lasting a long time, you’ll want to balance offline charging with the occasional need for online charging.

      1. Great input as usual.

        Thanks for sharing and continuing to do the research that not only benefits the community but the environment as well.

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