If it feels like you’re constantly charging your iPhone or are always on the lookout for an outlet to plug in, your phone’s battery health may be deteriorating.
Thankfully, Apple has some built-in tools (with more coming in iOS 14.5) to let you know for sure if you’re imagining a quickly draining battery or if your phone really is about to die.
Understanding how your battery is doing can keep you from dropping big bucks to start over with a new phone (the cheapest iPhone starts at $399). You can make the most of what you’re working with by treating the battery right and implementing a few tricks and tips.
Here are some ways to monitor your iPhone battery and keep it running like (almost) new.
How to look up iPhone battery info
Hop over to “Settings” and open “Battery.” You’ll see a breakdown of when your battery was in use and which apps are using up the most juice. You can look at the past 24 hours or past 10 days.
There’s also a section called “Battery Health.” Click that for a quick analysis of how used-up your battery is currently. My iPhone 8, which I bought new in December 2019, is at 85-percent maximum capacity. The closer to 100 percent, the better off you are. Apple warns that “lower capacity may result in fewer hours of usage between charges.”
Even if you have a lower than 100-percent capacity, you can still operate at “peak performance.” Under “Battery Health” you’ll see if the battery is still able to work as normal — or not. If the latter is the case, you might notice some of these issues with your iPhone:
Longer app launch times
Lower speaker volume
It’s not hopeless if your iPhone has a reduced battery capacity. Apple says anything above 80-percent capacity will let your phone operate as usual. Here are some different tricks and settings you can use to try to salvage your battery:
Lower your screen brightness. Even better, turn on Auto-Brightness in Accessibility settings so you don’t have to think about adjusting.
Use WiFi as much as possible. It takes up way less energy to connect through your wireless internet than by using cellular data.
Resist the urge to keep your phone fully charged all the time. Your lithium-ion battery only has so many charging cycles (about 500) before it starts degrading. So unless you really need a charge, let it drop below 100 percent full. But try to keep your battery from constantly plunging all the way to 0 percent. Instead, dropping to partially charged before the next plug-in is best for longterm battery health.
Toggle on “Optimized Battery Charging” in the Battery Health section. That lets your iPhone learn your charging habits so that it doesn’t overcharge while it’s plugged in.
Avoid cooking your phone in temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s easiest to avoid overheating by keeping it out of direct sunlight. You can put it in a pocket, or a backpack or other covered bag when you’re out in the heat. Even better: leave it inside your air-conditioned home.
Keep the software updated. This isn’t just for security, but Apple adds battery improvements and new settings regularly.
Limit background activity like “Background App Refresh,” automatic email checks on the Mail app, and location services. Go to “Settings” then “General” where you’ll find the “Background App Refresh” toggle. For Mail settings, look up “Mail” then adjust the”Fetch New Data” options. For location settings, you’ll find those under “Privacy.”
Turn off notifications. It might be convenient to get breaking news alerts, but it wakes up your home screen every time and drains the battery. You can manage your notifications in the settings.
Turn on Low Power Mode. For more on this simple option, read on.
Low Power Mode helps save your battery when you’re running low on juice. But it can also help slow down the drain. Once the mode is on, screen brightness dims and animations are minimized, and background activity slows down to conserve energy. You won’t be able to use AirDrop, iCloud sync, and the Mail app won’t keep checking and downloading emails in the background.
At the start of a busy day, I’ll turn on this mode preemptively. You can do this by putting a low power mode button on your control center (change the settings under “Control Center” and then “Customize Controls”) or go into the battery settings to turn it on manually. You’ll see the low battery option under “Battery” in settings.
Once your phone drains to 20 percent, a notification will pop up to turn on the energy saving. You get another notification at 10 percent.
How to replace your iPhone battery
If it’s a lost cause, you can replace your battery through Apple. If the message on your Battery Health section reads “Your battery’s health is significantly degraded,” you’ll know it’s time.
If your iPhone is out of warranty or if you don’t have AppleCare+, which covers battery life as long as you’re paying for the phone insurance, you’ll have to cough up $49 or $69 (plus $6.95 for shipping) depending on your model to have Apple put in a new battery. If short battery life is your only issue, with a replaced battery you’ll feel like you have a whole new phone, even if you’re still rocking an iPhone 6s.
Just be sure to care for your new battery a little better this time…