The big new feature in Apple’s iOS 12.1 is apparently multi-user FaceTime. Fun. But I hear that there are some battery features that slipped in too. Can you explain?
I won’t go so far as to say that Apple has been embroiled in “batterygate” for the last year or so, but battery functionality and how the system reacts to a low battery has definitely been a mess! The latest generation of iPhones offer greater functionality in terms of gaining control over your battery behavior – the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max – but what about everyone else? That’s where iOS 12.1 comes into play: it extends battery behavior and management settings to the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
Which is cool, actually. These settings and the data shown is quite useful (and almost on par with what you get in Android, by the way, just in case you think Apple’s always the head of the curve). What I most appreciate is the ability to see which of my apps is eating up battery life on my iPhone, particularly those that operate in the background. And yes, you can also change how the phone behaves when the battery gets critically low (the entire point of batterygate in the first place).
Let’s start with the Settings app. Go there and swipe down from the top. A search box shows up:
Surprising how few people realize that there’s a search box in the Settings app.
Use it by typing in “battery”:
Turns out both of those go to the same place, so tap on the one you prefer. I’ll use “Battery” because, well, it has an icon so it must be a better match, right? 🙂
Either way, you’ll end up looking at this (warning: It might take a few seconds to load the data portion of the screen):
Let’s start with the most important one: “Low Power Mode” is the new control and as Apple describes it…
Low Power Mode temporarily reduces background activity like downloads and mail fetch until you can fully charge your iPhone.
Got it? You can directly switch into Low Power Mode if you feel your phone is going through battery too fast or you just want to eke every minute out of this charge. More importantly, if your phone automatically switches to Low Power Mode, you can disable it and plow ahead until it is kaput. Not sure when that would be useful, but… now you can control it.
Further down the screen is far more interesting, showing the phone activity levels, both when the screen is on (interactive) and when it’s off (background). Notice that the second vertical bar of my activity graph shows a LOT of background activity. Curious…
Tap on “Last 10 Days” to see a longer view of your battery usage:
To me, the most interesting part is the last few lines: what apps are actually eating up my battery life?
Swipe down and you can get a much better view of which apps are sneaking around in the background and using battery life you didn’t realize would even be affected. This is a view of the last 24 hours on the iPhone X:
You can see that Facebook is the biggest offender. Between foreground use (me being interactive with the app) and background tasks (checking for updates and comments) it is consuming 12% of my total battery energy. That’s a lot. It certainly suggests that if I deleted Facebook my phone would last longer, right? Probably true; I’d use it less!
If you’re a big gamer then this could be a great screen to analyze too, as some game programs are written on the assumption that you have infinite power. They don’t care if it’s hugely power intensive but this way you can learn not to play, say, Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga (both of which are known to be battery hogs) if your battery is starting to fade.
Finally, notice the “Battery Health” option at the top of the screen. This is good to know and helps answer the question do I need to replace my iPhone battery?
You can see that after a year of heavy use, this particular iPhone X still has a 91% capacity on the battery, which I’d say is pretty darn good. Even 75% is fine, but if you’re below 50%, or even more so below 25%, you already know your phone dies quickly. Now you know why.
Hope that helps you understand all that’s going on behind the scenes on your iPhone to help you learn how your battery power is utilized and consumed by your apps and the system itself!