How To Improve iPhone Battery Life in iOS 7.1.1

Yesterday I gave some tips about how to save on cellular usage, which has a side effect of helping out your battery life. Today, we’re going to talk specifically about extending battery life.

First, there are the long-standing tips. If you don't need Bluetooth, turn it off. The same goes with WiFi. If you have an LTE-capable iPhone but don't live in an LTE market, turn that off, too. Is your phone too bright? Turning down the brightness will dramatically improve battery life if you use it a lot.

Now, make sure you’ve updated to 7.1.1, since one of the big improvements is advertised to be battery life. Second, keep in mind that “battery life” is subjective. My dad uses a feature phone he charges maybe three times a week, so anything more often will seem like battery failure to him. Improving battery life is a dark art at best, so pretend each of the steps below ends with “remember, your mileage may vary.”

Let’s begin by determining if you have an actual problem or just a perceived problem. Start by noting usage and standby time (writing them down is good) in Settings > General > Usage, as shown in the screenshot below. Then, press the button on top of your phone to put it to sleep and leave it be for five full minutes. I know, it’s going to be difficult, but we’ll get through it.

Settings > General > Usage shows current stats.

After five minutes, wake it up, check those numbers again, and compare the new times to the ones you wrote down. If things are working as they should, your Standby time should be five minutes more than it was when you set your phone down, and Usage should be the same, possibly up one if the minutes were close to increasing anyway. More than a minute should cause concern since there is something draining the battery. It could be a hardware issue, but it could also be a rogue app that keeps your device from sleeping properly.

Keep that test handy because it's a great way to determine if anything is getting better or worse as you walk through the steps below.

Scotty Loveless has published The Ultimate Guide to battery drain, and his first suggestion is to go to Settings - Privacy - Location Services and disable location services, then go to Settings - General - Background App Refresh and disable Background App Refresh specifically for Facebook. I did this myself, and it did help battery life, so I agree that starting here is an excellent idea.

Settings > General > Background App Refresh

Since you’re already in the Background App Refresh screen anyway, you might as well walk through it and make sure you’re only allowing particular apps to run amok on your battery life. It will become clear very quickly if you’ve disabled something that actually does need to stay on.

Another thing to try is disabling push email. This may or may not help, but might come in handy if one of your email accounts is ‘stuck’ checking since that will kill your battery, too. To adjust, tap on Settings > Mail, Contacts, and Calendars and scroll down to Fetch New Data and adjust it. Leave it this way for a day or two if you’re in a position to do so. You might find it’s not hurting anything to let your phone manually check every half hour. Some people notice no battery difference with push, so feel free to reinstate it if you like. I'm not the boss of you.

Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars

If you just want to sort of watch battery usage, a nifty little app called Carat is a research project from UC Berkeley that monitors battery life and can help highlight apps that are using a lot of battery life. I like to check it once in awhile because I'm constantly adding and removing apps so I like to keep an eye on what could be using more than its share.

If you haven’t seen it already, Apple also has a section of their site all about batteries, including a page of iPhone tips in case you haven’t seen this list of steps already.