Troubleshoot and manage high battery usage in iOS 9

BatteryIconXHaving long battery life is important for your iPhone, so it may be frustrating if you are seeing your battery levels dropping rapidly instead of giving you the 10+ hours usage you expect. In these cases, there are several things you can do to help and troubleshoot the problem, especially true if you have upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 9, where new services can help you track possible battery drains.

First, for general purposes you can disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when unused, as well as adjust your iPhone’s brightness to a minimum using the iOS Control Center. These will increase your battery life a little.

Beyond these, in iOS 9 you can go to Settings > Battery and check the usage shown on a per-app or per-service basis in the last 24 hours. In most cases you should see apps that you know you use regularly listed at the top, but red flags will include the following situations:

  • Apps you do not use often having equal or more battery usage than those you use regularly.
  • Increases in a specific app’s battery usage, such as one suddenly using 60% or more of your battery when it previously only used 10-20% based on your usage.
  • Any major jump in app battery percent usage between apps, so for instance, if most apps are around 10% or less but one standing out with 50% or above, then this indicates significant usage of that app.

Unfortunately tackling battery draining issues is not always a straightforward matter, but if you don’t know what is causing your battery drain, the following two options will help stop the bleeding:

1. Low power mode

In iOS 9, enabling low power mode will turn off background refresh for all apps, among other power consuming activities that Apps and some OS services use. Try using this enabled for a while, and to see if you notice any difference in battery life, and then consider using it as your primary mode if you don’t notice a difference in usability.

2. Airplane Mode

This will not only turn off Wi-Fi and BlueTooth antennas, but also prevent your device from trying to contact cell towers. This can greatly increase your battery life when cell coverage is minimal or unstable. However, unless you need your phone for a non-communications task (such as telling the time or date), then turning your phone off may be the best approach.

These two modes provide global approaches for managing battery-draining activities. They won’t isolate the problem, but will help save precious hours of battery life.

Troubleshooting specific apps

Apple’s battery usage service will not tell you why an app is using your battery; however, you can use several options to empirically determine the cause. The following options (and perhaps similar alternatives) should be available for each app by going to Settings > App Name. Adjusting them to limit their use may be a quick fix to your App’s battery hogging behavior:

  1. Turn off background refresh.
  2. Turn off cell usage.
  3. Limit app notifications.

In addition, as general practice, to avoid problems on any computing device it’s best to disable features if you do not use them, which pertaining to apps means the following two approaches:

  1. Fully quit apps by double-click the home screen, then swipe each up and off the screen.
  2. Remove rarely used apps by pressing and holding the home button, then clicking the X to remove any you don’t have need for.

    No Cell Signal service hogging battery life

    The No Cell Coverage service may hog battery usage if you have poor cell signal stability, or no service at all.

Troubleshooting specific services

In addition to apps that use battery power, services like “No Cell Coverage” and “Home & Lock Screen” may also show high battery usage. In these cases there are several things you can do:

  1. For No Cell Coverage, turn on Airplane Mode when you have limited service, to prevent it from searching for cell coverage.
  2. For Home & Lock Screen, turn off notifications for apps that frequently send them.

This last option can be done by swiping down from the top of your phone’s screen to display Notification Center, and then seeing which apps have many notices. For those you do not need, go to the Apps’ settings and disable all of the notification options available for it.

Battery maintenance and health

Finally, there are some care and maintenance steps you can take to ensure your battery gives you as much performance as possible over time:

  • Avoid fully depleting your battery.
  • Store your phone with 50-80% battery charge.
  • Store and operate your phone at room temperature, avoiding temperatures both below 32°F and above 95°F.
  • Avoid activity that regularly keeps your phone running hot to the touch.
  • Charge your phone while on a desk or otherwise out in the open, avoiding leaving it in a bag, pocket, or other confined areas that may prevent heat dissipation.
  • Do not leave your phone plugged into a Mac that is in turn not plugged in.