How to Check and Improve your iPhone Battery Health

Why should you care about your phone’s battery?  Well mostly you don’t have to care.  It’s only once you find you’re having to recharge it too often that you may be interested in prolonging its charge and its life.  Phone batteries have improved considerably from the early days of smartphones, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that they are expensive to replace.  Many if not most people choose to buy a new phone rather than just replacing the battery due to their expense, both as a total outlay and as a percentage of the cost of a new phone.  So better to be aware of how you are using your battery and how you can conserve it.

Checking current battery health

Battery health refers to the overall viability of the battery rather than its current charge percentage.  Smartphone batteries start out able to charge to their full capacity, but over time this maximum capacity erodes to a percentage of its original.  That is a major reason why older batteries seem to not hold their charge as well.  What’s your current maximum charge capacity?  You can easily check in a few taps on your iPhone.  Go to Settings   

Scroll down to Battery, and select it. (first image below)

Scroll down to Battery Health and select. (2nd image below)

In the example below (2nd image) you can see that my battery’s maximum capacity is at 99%.  This is pretty good; my phone and battery are about 9 months old at the time of this writing.  Current prevailing wisdom says you should look to replace your battery (or get a new phone if you prefer) once your maximum capacity gets as low as 80%. 

If you aren’t ready to replace your battery but want to get more from every charge, there are a number of things you can do.  The first step is knowing which features or programs are using up your battery.

What’s using up your smartphone battery?

In Battery Health, choose “Last 10 Days” tab on right (see pic below, right).  Alternatively, you can keep it on the default tab of “Last 24 hours”, but you will get a more holistic view of your habits if you view them across more time, hence choosing “Last 10 Days”.   As you can see from the green and blue bars below, battery usage can vary greatly across each day, depending if your habits vary.

You will see a list of programs and apps in descending order of their use of your battery.  Scroll down further to see the list that will show you down to small figures.  (See below, left).  In this case my search browser (Safari) was responsible for 18% of my battery usage in the last week and a half.

If you’re feeling brave and prefer to see how many hours you’ve wasted, er spent, on various activities, you can tap “Show Activity”. (See image below).  Tapping again (this time it says “Show Battery Usage”, see below right) will bring you back to reading percentages rather than hours & minutes.

Improving your iPhone battery usage

If anything looks excessive, you can take steps to rectify it either by reducing your time on that program (for example gaming…) or by ensuring the battery isn’t wasted when you’re not actually using the app or program.  For example, if you see “Maps” is taking up more battery than you would expect, it may be that you have forgotten to close the app when not in use.  Be sure to do so to avoid the program continually trying to read where you are.  Likewise if you think your Search browser (eg Safari, Explorer, Edge, etc) is over-represented, it may be that you are not closing out of search tabs when you’re done with them.  It’s easy to do if you are in the habit of swiping up when you’re done with a results page.   When recently helping a friend determine her smartphone battery usage, we found that her browser was taking over 80% of her battery charge.  When we opened the browser we found she had over 70 tabs open!   You can find easy instructions how to manage your search tabs under this subject topic.

If something innocuous like your Home Screen is taking up a lot of power, it may be that your screen brightness is set very high, the time before your screen locks is long, or both.  You can read how to manage these in our posts on these subjects.

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