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Does iOS 14 Harm iPhone Batteries?

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published by Chand Bellur
December 3, 2020 at 9:12 p.m.


  • As with most major iOS releases, iOS 14’s indexing, caching and iCloud synchronization tend to slow down devices after the update, draining battery life.
  • iPhone owners report that the Battery Health statistic on their iPhone dropped significantly in the days following iOS 14 installation.
  • The iOS 14 post-installation optimization process may be excessively demanding, causing sufficient stress on the battery to the point of diminishing its lifespan.

iOS Post-Installation Upgrade Process Uses More Battery Power

Major iOS releases often require significant changes to stored data on an iPhone. Apple’s AI initiative requires both Siri and Spotlight to index on-device information to speed up recommendations and searches.

Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about the inner workings of its operating systems and devices. Most casual users have no idea that their device is quite busy, even if they’re not using it, in the hours and days following an iOS release.

The extra processing cycles used after a major iOS upgrade are essential; however, they slow down devices and use more battery power. Users can’t opt-out of or reschedule post-update indexing and optimization. Although some techniques can minimize stress on the battery, upgrading to a new, major version of iOS will often damage some iPhone batteries, as evident by the Battery Health statistic.

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Using More Battery Power Increases Stress and Heat on Lithium Ion Cell

Upgrading to a new version of iOS is an intensive process. The distribution itself is enormous, with iOS 14.0 taking up almost 5 GB of storage for users who don’t have the latest iOS 13 installed version. Merely downloading the file will use the WiFi module, battery, and SSD intensively, generating heat within the device.

Once downloaded, files must be extracted from the compressed archive and installed. This puts even more stress and heat on the device, diminishing battery lifespan.

If that’s not enough, a background optimization process runs after installation. Users may be using their iPhones excessively while the process runs, increasing demand on all internal iPhone systems, including the battery.

Users Upgrading to iOS 14 Claim Battery Health Diminished Significantly

Shortly after a major iOS update, Appledystopia articles about iPhone battery life gain readers. Comments on these articles indicate that battery problems occurred immediately after upgrading to a new, major version of iOS. This happens every year shortly after the latest version of iOS releases.

Users also sound off on Apple’s Support Community about diminished battery life after running a major iOS update:

“These suggestions accomplished nothing. Battery drain is AWFUL. At times, I am loosing [sic] 10% every 10 minutes. No apps running in the background. What gives. WORSE [sic] iOS UPDATE OF ALL TIME”

“There is more than one IOS 14.X issue that is creating the battery drain problem. As such, I do not want to mislead you or get your hopes up. With that being said, the most flagrant IOS 14.X issue is mucked up app indexing/processor memory management. To see the problem on your iPhone, go to Settings/General/iPhone Storage. You most likely will see blanks and several lines say calculating. Since iPhone normally relies on caching for speed, the blanks and caching are eating the processor, battery, and as a result making your phone somewhat hot.”

Yet another page on Apple’s Support Community depicts a customer’s frustration with rapid battery drainage:

“I had installed the new ios 14, and my battery drained from 90% to 10% without me even touching the phone. This has never happened before. Please Apple fix asap.”

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Other iPhone users noticed significant drops in Battery Health after upgrading to iOS 14:

“The Battery health of my iPhone XS Max was 96% since I updated on 14.2 it decreased to 89%”

Some frustrated users suggest that this is a conspiracy to force customers into new iPhones. This is false. iOS updates have always needed some post-update optimization process to run. If your iPhone battery is in poor shape or you’re using it a lot, the extra load may diminish Battery Health. Without this optimization process, searching would be slow, and Siri and other services would underperform. If your iPhone is getting very warm, it may be a good idea to shut it down for a few minutes.

Charge iPhone When Powered Off to Minimize Battery Damage

Although there’s not much one can do about battery wear after major iOS updates, charging your iPhone while it’s turned off may help. Charging your iPhone while it’s turned off ensures that other processes aren’t running and generating heat while your device draws current.

Apple’s post-update optimization process uses processor cycles, battery power, and some data communications. If you’re charging your phone and using it while all of these operations are running, it becomes warm. Several users go so far as to say it becomes hot. It’s this heat and stress that damages the battery.

If you turn off your device while charging, your iPhone will only do one thing — charge the battery. It won’t run an optimization routine or entertain you with a game of Angry Birds. Your iPhone will charge quickly. Once charged, you can power it up and avoid excess heat caused by simultaneously charging and discharging the device while running an optimization process and apps.

You can turn off your iPhone by tapping on Settings > General > Shut Down. I recommend this method, as it minimizes wear on physical buttons. For those who find this inconvenient, you can power down your iPhone by holding down the side button until you see the “slide to power off” message. Slide the on-screen switch, and your iPhone will power off.

Connect your iPhone to its charger before shutting it down. If you do this later, your iPhone will start up again, and you’ll need to shut it down again.

Regardless of iOS updates and optimization processes, charging your iPhone when it’s powered off will keep the battery lasting longer. If you replace your iPhone every two years, don’t worry about it. It’s unlikely the battery will significantly decline within two years of regular use.


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