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Stop Your Phone From Dying Fast by Turning This Setting Off

Here's how to easily save your phone's battery and data.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
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Zachary McAuliffe
2 min read
A smartphone charging

If your phone's battery and data drain quickly, try turning this setting off.

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If your phone's battery is dying fast, people have probably given you the advice to close your background apps. Some say it conserves your battery, boosts your phone's performance and saves data. Others, including executives from Apple and Google's Android team, say no, background apps don't take up enough of your phone's resources to affect its performance. 

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Both groups of people can be right, though. While background apps may not use your phone's resources on their own, Android phones and iPhones will refresh background apps periodically by default. This uses your phone's battery and your data. While background apps refreshing don't drain your resources as much as screen brightness and cellular connection, stopping apps from refreshing can help conserve your battery and data for when you really need them.

Low Power Mode for iPhones and Battery Saver for Android phones both stop background apps from refreshing, too. However, they also pause or change other settings, like screen refresh rate and device performance. These options will certainly save your battery and data, but they cause more dramatic changes compared to stopping background apps from refreshing.

Here's how to stop background apps from refreshing, helping your battery last longer and saving your data.

Stop background apps from refreshing on iPhone

If you have an iPhone, here's how to stop background apps from refreshing.

1. Open Settings.

2. Tap General.

3. Tap Background App Refresh.

4. Tap Background App Refresh again.

Here you can choose to turn background refreshing Off, limit background apps to refresh when you're connected to Wi-Fi, or allow background apps to refresh on Wi-Fi & Cellular Data.

If you select Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi & Cellular Data, you can also select which apps can refresh in the background. For that, follow the first three steps above. Then you should see a list of apps near the bottom of the page and select which can refresh in the background.

Stop background apps from refreshing on Android

If you have an Android device, here's how to stop background apps from refreshing.

1. Open Settings.

2. Tap Network & internet.

3. Tap Data saver.

4. Toggle Use data saver on.

Data saver will stop background apps from using data unless your phone is connected to Wi-Fi. Some apps you're actively using might not load things like images, unless you tap on the image, which can be annoying. You can tap Unrestricted data just below Use data saver, and this lets you choose three apps to have unrestricted data access even with Data saver on. 

You can also allow certain apps to use background data. Here's how.

1. Open Settings.

2. Tap Network & internet.

3. Tap Mobile network.

4. Tap App data usage.

5. Tap the app you want.

6. Toggle Background data on. 

Now you can decide what apps refresh in the background, potentially saving your battery and data.

For more phone tips, check out how to clear your iPhone's cache and how to clear your Android's cache.