It's a truth universally acknowledged that an iPhone battery will eventually start to lose its ability to hold a decent charge. If your iPhone battery isn't lasting as long as it once did you aren't alone: all rechargeable batteries become less efficient over time and sadly the battery for your iPhone is no exception. As the battery gets older it may start to require charging more frequently, hold charge less well, or even start to shut down your phone unexpectedly.
Once your iPhone’s battery passes the 500 complete charges point it’s probably time for it to be replaced. Unfortunately iOS doesn’t indicate how many times your current battery has been charged, but there are some other ways to check up on your battery’s health and find out if you need to replace it.
Apple's attracted some bad press in regard to the iPhone battery, from reports that the company was throttling older iPhones who's batteries were degrading, to August 2019 reports that the company had outlawed third-party battery replacements. We have all the information about those claims below.
How to check iPhone battery health
In early 2018 Apple issued an iOS software update with new features that "give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance".
Just go to Settings > Battery and tap on Battery Health. We'll explain how to use this feature in more detail below.
Wondering why Apple felt it necessary to reveal this battery information? Earlier in 2018 Apple was criticised when it was discovered that the company was slowing down older iPhones in an attempt to stop shutdowns caused by failing batteries.
In reaction to the PR crisis, Apple reduced the price of replacing an older iPhone battery, and volunteered to make it easier to stop this throttling behaviour in a future update to iOS. You can read about the accusations that Apple has been slowing down iPhones and the UK and US Apple iPhone battery replacement pricing details here.
The deadline for applying for Apple's scheme whereby you can get the battery changed for £25/$29 has now passed. iPhone owners had until 1 December 2018 to get their battery changed for the low price.
In August 2019 another Apple PR crisis broke when it emerged that if a user had the battery inside their iPhone replaced by a third party who wasn't an Apple Authorized Service Providers, or Apple itself, then they would see the warning: "Important Battery Message: unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery."
The issue was replicated by iFixit, who became aware of it after watching this The Art of Repair video on YouTube.
The problem here is that following the replacement by a non-Apple provider, the Battery Health screen in Settings will display a "Service" message rather than information about your battery health.
iFixIt has confirmed that despite the “Service" message the iPhone battery will work as normal - it isn't being throttled by Apple. But this will nonetheless concern anyone who is considering a battery replacement.
There may be good reason for Apple to dissuade customers from third-party battery replacements. Those batteries could be hazardous knock-offs, or the customers could be ripped off by third-parties who fit a replacement battery that is in fact a reconditioned older battery.
With reports of mobile phones bursting into flames there may really be an issue here that Apple is trying to avoid.
When to replace an iPhone battery
Wondering when to change your iPhone battery? It's easy to tell if it needs replacing:
- Go to Settings > Battery
- Tap on Battery Health
- You will see what the ‘maximum capacity’ of you battery is - this is a measure of your battery capacity relative to when the battery was new. The older your iPhone, the lower this number is likely to be. Apple advices that “Lower capacity may result in fewer hours of usage between charges.”
- Below that is an indication of the battery’s ‘Peak Performance Capacity’. If your iPhone battery is running well you will see a message that “Your battery is currently supporting normal peak performance”.
- However, if your iPhone has experienced an unexpected shutdown because the battery was unable to deliver peak power, Performance Management may have been applied - and if that is the case you will see a message that: “This iPhone has experiences an unexpected shutdown because the battery was unable to deliver the necessary peak power. Performance management has been applied to help prevent this from happening again.
- Next to the above statement you will see Disable… If you tap on the option you can stop the performance of your iPhone from being throttled, although you may experience an unexpected shutdown next time the battery is under pressure.
- You may see an additional warning that “Your battery’s health is significantly degraded. An Apple Authorized Service Provider can replace the battery to restore full performance and capacity.” And a link to More about service options…
iPhone battery warnings
It is possible that your battery may have a low capacity but that the Performance Management hasn't been applied. This may indicate simply that you haven't been in a situation where an unexpected shutdown could have taken place. However, if you were to play a graphically intensive game, while the battery was below 20 percent, the setting could be triggered.
If you see a message that your battery health is degraded, you can continue to use your phone, but you may experience reduced charge capacity and some slight stability issues while your battery is on lower charge. Having your battery seen to by an official service technician is the best way to proceed, which may result in getting a new battery or having your current one fixed if there are any issues.
Here are some indicators that your iPhone might require a new battery: dimmer backlight than normal; lower speaker volume; stuttering screen when scrolling; frame-rate reduction in some game apps; and longer app-launch times.
If you’re covered by AppleCare then you can actually have your battery replaced at no additional cost, assuming it currently only holds 80% or less of its original charge.
How to maximise battery life on an iPhone
If you want to make sure your battery lasts as long as possible until you have a chance to get it replaced, then try the following suggestions:
- Turn off Location Services.
- Disable Background App Refresh.
- Make sure Auto-Brightness is enabled.
- Use Airplane Mode when you don’t need to be connected to the internet.
We have lots more tips about saving battery life on your iPhone here.
If you’re really desperate to get some more mileage out of your iPhone, then perhaps consider a Smart Battery case. These protect your phone like a regular case, but can also recharge your phone when you need it. We have a collection of the best iPhone battery cases here.
Apple notes that the number of times a battery has been charged is "not the only factors in this chemical ageing process" - "device use" and "leaving or charging a battery in a hot environment" can cause a battery to age faster.