Apple's iOS 11 includes updates to many existing features and introduces new ones. Some of the changes require end users to modify how they work.
Any iPhone user, including ones who have experienced battery throttling, will benefit from the following tips on how to extend and squeeze every last bit of juice from their Apple mobile devices, or charge more often to be able to get the levels of usage they were used to before updating.
Note: These tips will not help you to regain battery life. The focus is on settings in iOS 11 that, when configured from their defaults, maximize the number of resources used by your iPhone, which can quickly and significantly drain the battery even during moments of little to no use.
SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)
How to monitor battery usage in iOS 11
"Knowledge is power," and knowing which apps are draining power and, exactly how much power, will help you make informed decisions about when to use certain apps. Go to Settings | Battery, and from there you can monitor usage over the last 24 hours and over a seven-day period to get a handle on your iPhone's battery usage (Figure A).
Location Services and System Services
One of the greatest features of modern smartphones are the location-based services that utilize geo-positioning to provide GPS functionality, for example, among other handy uses. The problem with an always-on system that tracks positions for any number of services at a given time is that it's always on, and that means using battery life—even when it's not in use.
A good rule of thumb is to turn off any services you don't use by going to Settings | Privacy | Location Services. Another option is While Using, which limits the app's location service battery drain to only while the app is open—the rest of the time, it's not in use (Figure B).
System Services offers a single switch—either on or off—for system-only services that are quite useful. Find My iPhone, Wi-Fi Calling, and Emergency SOS are some of the services that you should keep on. Other services, including Location-based Apple Ads and Significant Locations, drain battery life, use data, and may pose privacy risks with a constant monitoring of your iPhone's location (Figure C).
Background App Refresh
In today's world, information is expected immediately. That is why apps come with support baked-in to facilitate updates when used in conjunction with any of your wireless connections. The downside is that every time a new message pings an update on your phone, it's using energy to power the wireless connection that delivers the message. More pings = less battery.
You can save a lot of battery life (especially if you're active on social media) by tapping Settings | General | Background App Refresh (Figure D)—turning off this feature will restrict apps to updating only when they're open. However, if you rely on background services for, say, email or push notifications for critical apps, toggling off any unneeded apps will prevent them from looking for updates while not in use.
Email push settings
In order to get email almost instantaneously, push services are used to get the data from the server to the iPhone on the server side. On the client side, fetch seemingly reaches out to the server on a scheduled basis to check for new messages, and then the server pushes the messages to the device.
This sounds great, until you realize that by default your iPhone is contacting a remote server every 15 minutes for updates. Multiply this by every email account you have set up on your iPhone, and it seems like your iPhone's wireless connection is constantly sending/receiving data and burning through battery life. Instead, try setting your fetch timeout to every hour if you absolutely must get your emails right away, or try it on manual, which will initiate a data connection only when you open your email client (Figure E).
Display & Brightness
The iPhone's gorgeous display is the main component that drains the most battery life.
Working on a screen that is too dim or difficult to see will likely have a negative impact on productivity; you can adjust the brightness in Settings | Display & Brightness, and now it will efficiently sip battery life instead of gulp it. Most prevalent is the brightness—the higher the setting, the brighter the screen or more juice it consumes. Try setting it closer to the 60% mark and see how it works, and then modify it as needed.
Auto-Lock is the timeout setting that automatically dims the screen and shuts it off after the period of time of inactivity that is shown. If you aren't mindful of this, your iPhone could keep the screen lit up much longer than necessary, which will drain the battery (Figure F).
Cellular data settings
The Cellular setting offers a wealth of information that can help you better understand your data usage and what negatively impacts your battery life.
Go to Settings | Cellular and look for the Cellular Data category. You'll find the total usage for your billing cycle, but more importantly, the total data use per application that's installed on your iPhone. There's a toggle switch next to each app that, when switched to off, restricts the app from using cellular data to transmit data. The app's data will only be allowed over Wi-Fi, which not only uses less power, but it also means that if an app is a data hog and there's no Wi-Fi access, it will not utilize battery resources until you connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot (Figure G).
When you go to Settings | Notifications, you'll find a list of each application and their configuration for displaying notifications. Most app developers want all of these settings to be turned on to provide users with the highest level of functionality.
This becomes problematic as your iPhone becomes loaded with apps, with each one receiving push updates from multiple services and continually pinging the device over its wireless connections. Also, as with most notifications, the screen lights up, which makes the biggest impact on battery life. It can be a pain to modify each app's notification settings, but the payoff for reserving power will be worth the effort (Figure H).
Virtual assistants are all the rage these days. Every new iteration of Apple software further integrates Siri into its core OS for enhanced functionality and newer, better, and more time-saving features. To facilitate this ease of use, Apple's programmed Siri to always "listen in" for the phrase "Hey, Siri," which is the assistant's cue to become fully awake and respond to your requests.
Services that are always on contribute to draining your iPhone's battery life. To combat this, turn off the Listen for "Hey, Siri" function. This settings change will nominally improve battery life, though every little bit helps; as a bonus, it will greatly improve security (Figure I).
Date & Time
I travel for work frequently, and I can't count how many times I've crossed time zones and found my iPhone automatically set to the correct time and time zone. This small thing is very useful, especially because it sets calendars and other time-sensitive reminders to the correct time zones as well. A small drawback is it checks its location once every hour to determine if its position has changed to make the proper accommodations.
If this setting is turned off, the power savings are negligible, but under the right conditions, it could mean the difference between an iPhone that is low on battery but usable, and one that has powered itself off completely. This can be changed by going to Settings | General | Date & Time (Figure J).
In the Display Accommodations setting located at Settings | General | Accessibility under the Vision category, it has been recommended that anyone who wishes to save a substantial amount of battery life should turn on the Invert Colors settings, effectively turning off the white light or lit pixels, in favor of rendering only the text in white.
Not only does this provide a white-on-black viewing area that is much simpler to read and is easier on the eyes, since the screen's backlight is only being used to light up the portions of the screen with text on them, the battery draw is greatly minimized (Figure K).
New in iOS 11, the Smart Invert setting offers the same color reversal as the Classic Invert setting except the OS now has logic built-in to differentiate between test and images in order to not revert the colors of images—just text. In real-world use, this has been hit or miss, but the fact remains that the battery life savings from enabling invert cannot be ignored.
- Latest iOS 11.3 beta adds battery health settings (ZDNet)
- Will a new iPhone battery really speed up your device? There's an app for that (ZDNet)
- Getting Apple to replace your iPhone's failing battery is a bigger hassle than it should be (ZDNet)
- iOS 11.3: How to check if your iPhone is being slowed down (CNET)
- How to transfer all the content from one iPhone to another (TechRepublic)
- How to factory reset an iPhone (TechRepublic)
- Apple iOS 11: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
How has your experience been with iOS 11 and battery life? Are there iOS 11 tips that you would like to share? Please post your feedback in the comments.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.