Ever since the iOS 13 update became available back in September of 2019, users of older iPhones have been complaining about how quickly the battery goes down their older devices. This is a problem that happens almost every year when Apple releases their new iPhones and iOS updates. Older iPhones get a little slower, and the battery starts going down quicker. For some people, it’s a major annoyance and they end up buying one of the new iPhones. For others, it is an minor inconvenience that they learn to deal with.

But this year, things are a little more complicated. The battery performance hit has been worse than usual. But on the other hand, many people would like to wait for next year’s rumored 5G iPhones before upgrading to a new phone. So, if you are trying to wait until next year before you upgrade your older iPhone, here’s some tips to stretch your battery life as much as possible on older devices.

  • Turning off Background App Refresh: One of the things that can really drain your battery’s performance is how often your apps are running in the background even when you’re not using them. An example of this would be the ESPN app, or a news app that is constantly fetching new scores or new headlines even when you’re not using that app. All of the apps that you install on your phone will essentially “call home” on a regular basis even when you’re not using them. In some cases that’s really useful. If you use a mobile payment service like Venmo or PayPal, you may want to be notified as soon as someone has sent you money even when you’re not using the app. Same thing with an app like Uber or Lyft, because you need the most accurate and up to date information. Now, to be clear, turning off Background App refresh for certain apps does not completely block them from ever refreshing. It simply minimizes how often and under what circumstances they do so. But many of us have dozens of apps on our phones that we hardly ever use. It’s with those apps that it would be wise for you to turn off Background App Refresh.
    To do that, simply go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and toggle on or off which apps you allow to refresh in the background.


  • Low Power Mode: This is essentially a more extreme version of blocking Background App Refresh. When you turn on Low Power Mode, it does a number of things:
    1. Your email will no longer refresh in the background.
    2. Your iPhone’s “Hey Siri” feature no longer works.
    3. Background App Refresh will be minimized.
    4. Automatic Downloads will be turned off
    5. Some visual effects will be reduced.
    6. Auto-Lock of your screen will default to a time of 30 seconds.
    7. iCloud Photos syncing will be temporarily paused.
    So, your phone works just fine in Low Power Mode, but it’s not fetching new emails and syncing your photos in the background.
    If you know that you’re going to be somewhere for a few hours with no option to recharge your phone anytime soon, turning on Low Power Mode even at full charge may be a smart option. You can turn on Low Power Mode in your Settings > Battery section.


  • Dimming the screen and using Dark Mode: Dimming the screen can make a very big difference. You can do that in your settings > Display & Brightness and dialing that in to whatever looks acceptable to you. Dark Mode is one of the new feature that was recently introduced in iOS 13. Using Dark Mode has also been shown to improve battery life by a few percentage points, so that may be worth experimenting with.

  • Airplane Mode: This is the most extreme option, but one worth considering in some cases. And I’ll give you my own example for how you could use this. I currently use two different iPhones. The oldest one of those is an iPhone 6S. It works fine with iOS 13, but the battery usually drains dramatically overnight. It may go from 90% full at night to only 20% or 30% full by the next morning. I started putting it in Airplane mode before going to bed at night and the difference was massive. Now it only loses 5% or 10% charge overnight, instead of 50% or 60% of its charge. And that’s because putting it in Airplane Mode completely cuts off all background activity. Now, that also means that phone calls or text messages will not come in on that phone while in Airplane Mode. In my case, that’s perfectly okay because I have another iPhone and an Apple Watch for those calls to come to. But if that iPhone is the only device that you have that can receive calls, putting it in Airplane Mode may not be possible for you in case of an emergency.

Alright, so those are few things you can experiment with if you want to stretch your iPhone for a few more months or years before you upgrade. If you have any other tricks that you like to use, please let me know.