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How to Maximize Your iOS Battery

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Any user that upgraded from an older iPhone to the iPhone 4 will most certainly notice the improved battery life that the new device offers. You really notice in the end of the day when you look at the battery meter and is surprised that it still breezing with say 20-30% of battery. Not to mention for those of us that own an iPad and enjoy it’s crazy long battery life.

I thought it would be a good idea to review some ideas to get the most of your battery life. Users of older iPhones models will appreciate this even more.

The first thing is to be sure to have the most updated version of iOS (currently v4.1). At every iteration iOS is getting noticeably better and better at power management.

The obvious ways to improve battery life is to turn off certain network services in the settings. Primarily 3G, WiFi or Bluetooth. If you know you won’t be using one of them just turn it off and it will improve your battery life. But realistically who is gonna turn off 3G? Bluetooth on the other hand is something I have it on in a need to use basis. It is mostly off for me.

Now WiFi, I leave it on, but if you are commuting or traveling and will be relying solely on 3G, turning off WiFi will of course help. A setting that by default is ON in iOS is the “Ask to Join Networks” option inside the WiFi settings. This pops up a notification window when the iPhone is trying to connect to the available WiFi networks around you and shows you the options. I always leave this setting OFF. When I want to join an unknown WiFi, usually I am going to tap into the settings pane anyway. My suggestion is to turn this off, since it will always be looking for WiFi networks around you, all the time. Big battery use here.

Screen brightness is a big drain when turned really high. I find that the “Auto-Brightness” setting seems to go for the more is better approach. In low light conditions it doesn’t really go as dark as it should. My suggestion: leave it ON and set the brightness to about 60-70% level. You won’t notice it, until you are under bright sunlight and the screen will seem shaded to you, then you need to pump it up.

Less obvious ways to safe battery life are to:

1. Disable Vibrate alerts. It takes energy to run the motor that vibrates the phone. Personally I really like it because usually the phone is in my pocket and it comes handy when I can’t really hear it in the street.

2. Disable the Equalizer (EQ) function inside the iPod settings. It takes juice for the real time EQ to run.

3. Be sure to have auto-lock set to the system’s default of 1 min.

4. Turn off Location services, that is the GPS.

5. Use the Airplane mode when in low or no coverage areas or your iPhone will keep trying to connect to the network and use a LOT of battery trying to do so. Use EDGE in these situations.

6. Be aware of Skype! The current version of the skype app (v2.1.1) runs in the background and it will kill your battery fast! Although I would really like to mostly use skype to make and receive calls, the current implementation of the app just makes this impossible. Apple really had a reason to do multitasking the way the did it and I always sign off of it or kill it in the app switcher if I won’t be using it.

The simple solution is to keep a charger around. At home, at work, in the car. Just keep chargers around you. I tend to always have with me a 7cm USB to dock connector cable like the CableJive’s iStubz. The iPhone’s lithium based battery does not have memory issues, you can charge it when it’s empty, half full or close to full without damaging the battery’s capacity.

What other ways have you found to save battery life? Let me know in the comments below!

I’m a new contributor to the iPhone in Canada website and will focus on the iOS how to’s. Excited to be part of team with other Apple products fans. You can connect with me for through twitter @RodChristiansen and RodChristiansen.net.

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  • Anonymous

    You forgot to mention about disabling push for e-mails =)
    That is one of the biggest battery drains right there.

    As for 3G…. You can only turn it off if you have Rogers or Fido as your carrier as their network is both 2G and 3G. The Bell and Telus shared network is 3G only and turning it off will result in no service. So it isn’t really an option for them. But really I wouldn’t turn off 3G anyways on Rogers as Edge snails in comparison to 3G.

    Airplane mode is a big battery saver when out in the middle of nowhere where there is no service. Or even in the subways where we still (!) don’t have cell service.

    Good points though =)

  • James

    Thanks for the post. What about notifications? Does anyone know if say, ten apps with push activated drains the battery than only one or two?

  • SMARTY

    nice writeup… I didn’t know that iPhone’s battery doesn’t have memory issues, something good to know. Thanks.

  • Amod Agrawal

    How does EQ in the Settings App effect battery life? I am still confused about the basic function of “EQ”.
    Please do reply!

  • “kill it in the app switcher”… What? How?
    I didn’t know this was an option, tell me more!

  • Amod Agrawal

    Nope. That doesn’t matter.
    Notification work on a basic principle that Apple’s Servers push info to a particular “USER ID”.
    So if you have Push turned on for 10 Apps or 2 Apps.. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is Exchange’s Push Email. That does consume a lot of battery life.

  • Amod Agrawal

    Nope. That doesn’t matter.
    Notification work on a basic principle that Apple’s Servers push info to a particular “USER ID”.
    So if you have Push turned on for 10 Apps or 2 Apps.. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is Exchange’s Push Email. That does consume a lot of battery life.

  • Amod Agrawal

    Nope. That doesn’t matter.
    Notification work on a basic principle that Apple’s Servers push info to a particular “USER ID”.
    So if you have Push turned on for 10 Apps or 2 Apps.. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is Exchange’s Push Email. That does consume a lot of battery life.

  • Amod Agrawal

    On iOS 4, just double tap Home Button to get the App Switcher.
    Hold on to the icon and tap on the “-” sign on App. It will be killed.
    This is only Applicible to iPhone 4, 3GS, iPod touch 3G and iPod touch 4.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the tips! One thing I noticed with the new iOS 4.1 is now in the settings>general>network section there is now a tab called “Cellular Data” not sure if having that “on” consumes more battery but it used to be just the “Data Roaming” button and I turn that off if I’m not on the road (locally) as I think it contributes to battery drain as well. At least I seem to notice better battery life if I have it turned off instead of on.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the tips! One thing I noticed with the new iOS 4.1 is now in the settings>general>network section there is now a tab called “Cellular Data” not sure if having that “on” consumes more battery but it used to be just the “Data Roaming” button and I turn that off if I’m not on the road (locally) as I think it contributes to battery drain as well. At least I seem to notice better battery life if I have it turned off instead of on.

  • Anonymous

    The extra processing needed to adjust the music reduces the music.

    It isn’t that big of a battery difference to me….

  • Simon J

    Just like when you delete apps on the phone: press and hold the app’s icon in the app switcher until they wiggle, then press the X on the corner of the app you want to kill!

  • cool, thanks! I didn’t know about that.

  • cool, thanks! I didn’t know about that.

  • Anonymous

    WOW….I did NOT KNOW you could do that! Thanks, I just killed about 12 apps. I was wondering why my battery life was crappier after upgrading to iOS 4.1. I think I now know why!

  • Wuju

    if you have a jailbroken phone, i would suggest to get iScheduler cause I could tell the phone when to turn on/off pretty much everything at any time of the day to save battery. e.g. airplane mode while sleeping at night. 3G while traveling and off in the office with wifi, etc.

  • Wuju

    if you have a jailbroken phone, i would suggest to get iScheduler cause I could tell the phone when to turn on/off pretty much everything at any time of the day to save battery. e.g. airplane mode while sleeping at night. 3G while traveling and off in the office with wifi, etc.

  • Wuju

    if you have a jailbroken phone, i would suggest to get iScheduler cause I could tell the phone when to turn on/off pretty much everything at any time of the day to save battery. e.g. airplane mode while sleeping at night. 3G while traveling and off in the office with wifi, etc.

  • Wuju

    if you have a jailbroken phone, i would suggest to get iScheduler cause I could tell the phone when to turn on/off pretty much everything at any time of the day to save battery. e.g. airplane mode while sleeping at night. 3G while traveling and off in the office with wifi, etc.

  • Wuju

    if you have a jailbroken phone, i would suggest to get iScheduler cause I could tell the phone when to turn on/off pretty much everything at any time of the day to save battery. e.g. airplane mode while sleeping at night. 3G while traveling and off in the office with wifi, etc.

  • netskipper

    hehe, just like me 🙂 but i did put a post in iphoneincanada forum, and ask how to 🙂 problem solved 🙂

  • netskipper

    hehe, just like me 🙂 but i did put a post in iphoneincanada forum, and ask how to 🙂 problem solved 🙂

  • netskipper

    hehe, just like me 🙂 but i did put a post in iphoneincanada forum, and ask how to 🙂 problem solved 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I take it you don’t use your data on the go? As Cellular Data means you can access the internet through the cell phone connection and use up your data plan. So keep this ON if you have a data plan. If you don’t have a data plan then just keep it OFF all the time.

    Data Roaming means when you are traveling outside Canada and your phone picks up another carrier it will use their data services to access the internet. Currently this is a huge charge and is not covered by your regular data plan so I would keep this OFF all the time unless you know what you are doing and want to pay the high price.

  • SF

    This is not related to this topic, but does anyone know when the jailbreak for 4.1 is coming? I’m still on 4.0.1 and prevented myself from upgrading to 4.1 unless there is a jailbreak available. I thought the DevTeam had it figured out one month back but have not heard anything since.

  • Anonymous

    When it is ready 😉

  • I should’ve mentioned how to do it. But you don’t need to use this kill switch all the time and to all apps, because the implementation by Apple makes most background processes go into hibernate. Skype is a particular app that is very power hungry when in the background.

  • Turning off 3G and switching to EDGE is one of my favourite battery saving tricks. Useful when your battery is at 10%. This can only happen with Rogers/Fido, whereas Telus/Bell users on the 3G/HSPA overlay can’t do it.

  • Yes, I skipped Push for emails, calendar and contacts. Thanks for noting it.

    Because I use MobileMe and the “Find My iPhone” feature requires push to be on to find, lock or wipe the iPhone or iPad. It isn’t an option for me to turn it off : )
    But yes it is another way to save battery life.

  • Don

    October 10th

  • JL

    yep, the latest version of Skype definitely drains my Iphone 4 battery while running in the background. Hope Skype addresses this in the next release.

  • DAvid

    As are GPS apps, when in the background. Leave a navigation app running & watch your battery life drop…..

    DAvid

  • ineediphone

    Is there a difference between signing out of Skype or killing it from the app switcher? I noticed that Skype was a battery hog and just sign out when I’m done with it. Should I kill it from the app switcher as well???

  • I think either works the same. If you sign off, you won’t see it draining the battery.

  • Anonymous

    I found that the more email accounts you set up to push the worse it gets. Sounds obvious, I guess, but I had to check it out.

  • With location services on, is the OS continuously updating it’s location? I thought location was only called upon when an app needs it?

  • Great post, I will use a few of your suggestions! 🙂

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