11 ways to improve iPhone battery life with iOS 11

Keep your iPhone running longer on a single charge with these battery-saving tips.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
5 min read
Jason Cipriani/CNET

Hooray, a new iOS  update is here! Oh no, my old iPhone is ripping through battery life at an alarming rate! 

Updating to a new version of iOS can be a rollercoaster of emotions. If your iPhone doesn't hold a charge like it used to (despite Apple's best efforts to preserve battery life on older phones), here are 11 ways you can extend the running time of your iPhone with iOS 11 .

Watch this: How to improve iPhone battery life with iOS 11

1. Check app-by-app battery usage

Your iPhone keeps a list of the most egregious abusers of its battery. Head to Settings > Battery and you'll see a list of the apps that have used the most power in the last 24 hours and the last seven days. (In the image below, it says the last two days because I've only been using iOS 11 that long.)  

Tap the little clock icon along the right edge to see how long each app has run on screen or in the background during your selected time frame. With this knowledge, you can limit using power-hungry apps when you're running low on juice. And knowing, they say, is half the battle.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

2. Lower screen brightness

Powering the display is the single biggest drain on your battery. Use the slider in Control Center to reduce your screen's brightness. 

You can also enable Auto-Brightness, which adjusts the screen level based on ambient light -- but I'd only do this if you use your iPhone more at night than during the day or at least more inside than outside during the day. Or live in Seattle or somewhere where it's seldom sunny (*waves at UK readers*). 

This is because in brightly lit environments, auto-brightness keeps your screen at or near max brightness and drains your battery faster. The auto-brightness setting moved in iOS 11. It's no longer found under Display & Brightness page in Settings but buried in the Accessibility settings. Here's the path: Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

3. Turn your Flashlight down low

Like the display, the flashlight can be a big battery drain. With iOS 11, there are four brightness levels for the flashlight. If you're a frequent flashlight user, try out the lowest setting; it's still plenty bright and can save you some battery. Swipe up for the Control Center and 3D Touch or long-press on the flashlight button and set your brightness preference, which iOS will remember for subsequent flashlight uses.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

4. Use Low Power Mode

Low Power Mode isn't new, but it is super useful. It reduces or disables the following features: email fetch, "Hey Siri," background app refresh, automatic downloads and some visual effects, plus it sets Auto-Lock to 30 seconds. When your battery hits 20 percent, iOS will offer to turn it on for you, but you can toggle it on by going to Settings > Battery, asking Siri to "turn on Low Power Mode" or adding a button for it to the new Control Center.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

5. Don't push, fetch less

Urgent messages probably arrive by text these days, which means you need emails neither pushed constantly to your phone nor fetched frequently. Check your mail settings to make sure push is turned off and fetch set to Manually, or, if you must, Hourly. You can adjust Push and Fetch settings by following this path: Settings > Accounts & Passwords > Fetch New Data and change it to Manually. This means the Mail app won't go hunting for new emails unless you launch it and check yourself.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

6. Nay Siri

There's some debate over how much power listening for "Hey Siri" uses. Many people disable it out of privacy concerns because with the setting on, your iPhone is constantly listening for you to utter the magic words for the assistant to spring into action. It must use some, as Lower Power Mode turns it off. 

To turn it off, go to Settings > Siri & Search and toggle off Listen for "Hey Siri."

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

7. Limit background app refresh and auto downloads

Some apps, if you allow them, refresh their content when you aren't using them, so that when you return to them you're served fresh content, saving you from needing to pull down to refresh. Background refresh is certainly convenient, but it's also a drain on battery life. Head to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and you can turn Background App Refresh off entirely or select which apps you'd like to refresh in the background.

Like refreshing in the background, an app updating itself in the background also uses battery resources. You can disable this feature and update your apps manually via the App Store app. To do so, go to Settings > iTunes & App Store and tap the toggle switch to turn off Updates in the Automatic Downloads section.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

8. Disable some visual effects

The visual effects that Low Power Mode reduces or disables, I believe, are the motion and transparency animation effects that lend a sense of depth as you tilt your phone or open and close apps. First, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion and tap the toggle switch to turn on Reduce Motion. Next, head back to the Accessibility screen, tap the line above Reduce Motion titled Increase Contrast and tap the toggle switch to turn on Reduce Transparency.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

9. Tighten up Auto-Lock

If the display is a huge power draw -- and it is -- then it's a good idea to shorten the time it stays on when sitting idle. Auto-Lock shuts down your iPhone after it has been inactive for a period of time. You can set it as short as 30 seconds. To set a time period for Auto-Lock, head to Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto-Lock.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

10. See what's tracking your location

Apps constantly requesting your location naturally consumes battery. Thankfully, iOS 11 gives you more control over how and when apps access your location. No longer can a developer offer only "Always" or "Never" for the tracking options for location services. Now, you'll be able to choose "While Using the App," whether the developer likes it or not. Head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services to adjust the settings for all of your apps that use location services.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

11. Restrict notifications

Too many notifications are both annoying and a drain on your battery because they can wake up an idle iPhone and turn on the display. Go to Settings > Notifications and choose which apps can push notifications your way. You can also shut off notifications on the lock screen. For Show Previews at the top, select When Unlocked.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Editors' note: This story was originally published on Sept. 22 and has since been updated.