iPhone Battery Draining Fast – Full Troubleshooting Guide
If you’re still in your 30s, then you may remember a simpler time from before the age of the smartphone. Believe it or not, we use to live in a world where communication occurred in person, or sparingly through landline telephones (which were connected to a wall in your house!) or through the occasional letter or even rarer email.
Today, we often feel naked without a smartphone in our pocket. The idea of missing out on a piece of communication or news, even if just for an hour or two, feels preposterous. Our psychology has adapted with our technology—for better or worse. Now, one of the most stressful day-to-day challenges we face is keeping our iPhone battery charged until bed. It can be a struggle for your iPhone to last the day. But there are a few ways to diagnose any potential issues as well as extend your battery life for longer. All smartphones house a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which is a great piece of technology but has its limits.
What is a Lithium-Ion Battery?
Every rechargeable device on the market currently uses lithium-ion technology. From explainthatstuff.com, lithium-ion technology is described summarily:
“Like any other battery, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery is made of one or more power-generating compartments called cells. Each cell has essentially three components: a positive electrode (connected to the battery’s positive or + terminal), a negative electrode (connected to the negative or − terminal), and a chemical called an electrolyte in between them. The positive electrode is typically made from a chemical compound called lithium-cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) or, in newer batteries, from lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4). The negative electrode is generally made from carbon (graphite) and the electrolyte varies from one type of battery to another—but isn’t too important in understanding the basic idea of how the battery works.”
The obstacle with this type of battery is that it has a finite number of charge cycles. As you use your iPhone battery, you decrease the number of charge cycles. And as these charge cycles reduce, the performance of your battery will suffer and ultimately cease altogether. A typical lithium-ion battery has between 500 and 1,500 charge cycles, with one charge cycle denoting the discharge of your iPhone.
Keep Your iPhone Battery Healthier Longer
While lithium-ion batteries are hardy pieces of technology, they have their limits. Keeping your battery in environments that exceed their ideal threshold won’t just limit their lifespan, it can cause them to catastrophically fail.
Keep Your iPhone Out of the Heat
The operational temperature of a lithium-ion battery is between 41 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything outside of that range will impact your battery health. Sustaining temperatures outside of that range will lead to premature failure of your battery, sometimes catastrophically.
You may wonder how you’d ever exceed 113 degrees unless you’re a long-term resident of the Sahara Desert. However, you’re overlooking the most obvious and most common mistake you can make with your iPhone. The simple act of leaving your iPhone in your car on a summer day will provide all of the excessive heat needed to give your iPhone a proper meltdown. While your iPhone may or may not explode on you, leaving your phone in your car more than a few times will have a significant impact on its health. A car’s interior temperature will rise beyond 113 degrees in an hour even in 70-degree weather.
Don’t Let Your Battery Go Low
Often, the complete opposite advice is given to you when discussing battery heath. Many people think that a lithium-ion battery, because it has a finite number of charges, should be discharged fully to “get the most” out of those charge cycles. A lot of people will even claim to ensure your iPhone is at 30% battery or lower before charging it.
The exact opposite is true. Lithium-ion batteries do not calculate their charge cycles in such a concise manner. Instead, charge cycles are calculated while your iPhone discharges throughout the day. As your battery charge decreases, the power demand becomes harder to keep up with, which uses charge cycles. It’s been found that charging your battery at 75% life will use less of your charge cycles than charging it at lower levels. With lithium-ion batteries, battery health comes down to discharge levels, not charge levels. Try thinking of your battery’s life in terms of discharging—as it discharges, it ages. Charging your battery stalls that process.
You Cannot “Overcharge” Your Battery
With that said, the concept of overcharging is a myth as well. Keeping your iPhone plugged in all night, even if it’s already at 100%, is not going to significantly impact your battery. Lithium-ion batteries are designed to manage their charge cycles. When they’re full, they neither charge or discharge. In short, you’re not doing any damage to your iPhone by leaving it plugged in—you’re essentially putting the battery on pause until you next unplug it.
Evaluate Your Battery Health via iOS
With the launch of iOS 12, Apple now supports a helpful and clever diagnostic tool found buried in your iPhone’s “Settings” application. If you tap to open your “Settings” menu and navigate to the “Battery” section, you can see a comprehensive graph of your phone use in conjunction with your battery level. While all of this data may be hard to understand, you can find a simpler breakdown of your battery health by tapping the “Battery Health” menu option.
From this section, you can see the “Maximum Capacity” of your battery. In essence, this percentage denotes the remaining life of your battery. Ideally, a brand new, out-of-the-box iPhone has a maximum capacity of 100%. As you use your phone, this capacity will slowly diminish. If it reaches a certain threshold, then your battery’s ability to even support simple iPhone tasks will suffer. An unhealthy battery is problematic.
Luckily, Apple will tell you when your maximum capacity is too low. At that stage, this section will inform you that you need to bring your iPhone into an Apple store for battery service.
Peak Performance Capability
A dying battery doesn’t just mean less juice. It will cause your iPhone’s performance to suffer. Luckily, Apple has a “Peak Performance Capability” section under its “Battery Health” page. This section will tell you if your battery health is adversely affecting your phone’s performance.
What does poor peak performance look like? Have you ever tried to open your iPhone camera at 15% battery and had your phone crash? Or your iPhone’s battery goes from 15% down to 1% almost in an instant? This scenario is related to poor battery health, and because of a bad battery, demanding tasks will cause your power usage to spike. With a healthy battery, this is par-for-the-course. But a dying battery will wince at this demand, and even if it has some juice left in it, it will more than likely fold under the pressure, making your phone crash or completely die in the process.
A healthy iPhone battery will meet your demands even at 5% power. Sure, your battery will drain rapidly under constant demand, but it won’t suddenly shut off. It will handle your workload until it drains to empty, as it should. Needless to say, the “Peak Performance Capability” and “Battery Health” iOS sections are great indicators of your battery health should you sense any performance issues with your iPhone.
Software Can Impact Hardware
If you have the newest and greatest iPhone, then you should be at peak performance across the board. Your CPU, GPU, and the battery should all be working together to effortlessly run the processes that are demanded of them. However, older iPhone can and will struggle with new software demands and that will affect your battery life.
Think Before You Upgrade
Once your iPhone is a few generations old, it’s time to start considering the consequences of upgrading your operating system. iOS has forever been known as a relatively sophisticated piece of software that does a great job at power management without any intervention from the end-user.
However, Apple is also known as a very forward-thinking company. To put it simply—the hardware demands of their subsequent software upgrades will eventually begin to negatively impact your iPhone’s performance well before your iPhone has seen its last breath. Apple has been in hot water for throttling battery performance on older phones running newer software. Their excuse was that they needed to manage those phones differently to run their more sophisticated operating system. Whether you believe that or not, the result is the same—a slower, more cumbersome experience that worked perfectly on an older operating system. Any time a new point release for iOS is released, ask yourself how badly you want it and do your research—see what other people are saying about the performance using your particular phone before you upgrade.
Closing Apps is Not Helpful, It’s Detrimental
Apple has, almost from the very beginning, had an “application management” screen that allowed you to forcefully close applications in the system memory, effectively wiping them clean from your iPhone RAM until they are next opened. It makes sense that manually closing these apps would help with your phone’s performance. It certainly can help on your laptop—closing applications and freeing up RAM have always gone hand in hand.
However, mobile operating systems don’t work off of the same architecture that we’re used to on laptops and desktops. And in fact, iOS is very sophisticated in its RAM allocation and management. Whether you want to admit it—your iPhone operating system is better than you are at knowing when to free up RAM and when to leave it allocated.
Closing applications outside of the operating system’s algorithm will put a wrench in an already proven process. And reopening those applications from a “zero state” will require more memory and more power than if they had stayed open in the first place. Think of it this way—what’s more efficient, turning your car off every 5 miles on the highway because you don’t want to overtax your engine or just letting it run, trusting that the engineering of your combustion system is managing everything all by itself?
iPhone Battery Replacement
If your operating system is reporting that your battery is at the end of its life and in need of service, then you may want to consider the total replacement of your battery with a brand new one.
Replace Your Battery at an Apple Store
The easiest thing to do if you have a poorly performing battery is to make an appointment at the Apple Store. It’s best if you reserve a spot ahead of time to minimize your wait. Also, when you create an appointment, you can tell the mobile technicians that you’re coming in for a battery replacement. This will ensure you’re prioritized and they have everything they need on hand to do a battery swap.
However, bear in mind that many people report that their new batteries are still diminished. This may be because of the new operating system, or because many of the repair parts that Apple uses are certified refurbished. Whatever the case is, replacing your battery will extend your iPhone’s life, but it isn’t going to double it.
Consider a New iPhone
Truthfully, if you’re having battery issues, that usually means your iPhone has lived a long and fruitful life. The lifespan of an iPhone is typically around 5 years, considering that you’ve taken good care of it. When your battery is on the way out, it’s likely time to consider an upgrade. Even if you love your iPhone 6s Plus, the chances of it ever running as smoothly as launch day are slim to none.
Even if your battery is on its last legs, as long as your iPhone is in great cosmetic condition, you can trade it in to a buyback program for some cold, hard cash that can go directly toward the purchase of a new iPhone. It’s a win-win situation; your old, trusty iPhone can do you one last solid while putting some new tech in your hands.
The Lithium-ion Battery is Great Tech with Caveats
Like it or not, the lithium-ion battery is the best way to power our cordless, rechargeable devices. Research is being done to investigate other, better options, but for now, the lithium-ion battery is the gold standard.
And for the most part, the lithium-ion battery works extremely well. When taken care of, it’ll last you years. It’s also smart enough to know when to stop charging when it’s full. Most of all, it’s versatile enough to be packed into every piece of tech that can’t be chained to an AC outlet. With some diligence, some TLC, and understanding of your battery’s limits, you should still be able to get the most out of your iPhone battery until the need to upgrade arises.