iOS Device Battery Usage when Idle

This isn’t new, but I’m always surprised how quickly the batteries of iOS devices drain when they’re doing nothing. I put an old iPad mini 2 in the kitchen, to watch the news with breakfast, and to display recipes and play music when I’m cooking. I have a charger in the kitchen, but I don’t leave it plugged in all the time. Even though I only use it for about 15 minutes most days, I generally have to plug it in every three or four days.

I got a new iPod touch, and set it up yesterday. Around 6 pm, it was charged to 100%. This morning, at around 8:30, I checked it, and it was at 69%. That’s more than 30% of the battery in a bit over 14 hours.

Ipod touch battery

The iPod was doing nothing other than occasionally checking iCloud, and maintaining wi-fi and Bluetooth active (the latter uses very little power). Yet it used about one-third of its power. Over 24 hours, it would lose nearly half its power.

Apple should improve this element of iOS devices. When they’re not being used for more than a certain amount of time, there should be a sort of hibernation mode. If you put a charged iOS device in a drawer, and leave it for three days, you likely won’t have any power left, and that’s just a waste.

Update: It’s been a while, and it’s clear that if wi-fi is on, then the battery dies pretty quickly. Partly because of the wi-fi itself, but also because of iCloud updating when the device is idle. I have background app refresh turned off globally, but Photos still updates, and downloads new photos; Music still updates iCloud Music Library; and any other Apple iCloud-based app will update as well. So to save battery life, either turn off those features, or put the device into airplane mode. If I do the latter, the battery does deplete, but much more slowly.

0 thoughts on “iOS Device Battery Usage when Idle

  1. I am in no way denying a word you’ve written; but this has not been my experience. I have an iPhone X. Full charge late evening, say 10pm. Twenty-some hours later, say 6pm – (texts, calls, looking at the weather apps for the day – nothing heavy, no music) – battery at 89%.
    My wife’s iPhone 7 – same scenario – 66%, but then hers is a much older phone.
    My iPad Pro (10.5″) gets much heavier use including music, reading, Internet. From 100% to 55% in the same time period. Not bad, I’d say.

    • Yes, good point. Same with my iPhone XS. My iPad Pro is good, but it’s the latest model. So older models don’t have the same battery technology.

  2. I have just migrated from an iPhone 6Plus to a Xr and am gobsmacked by how long the battery lasts. I know its a big tech jump but still I’m impressed by the Xr.

  3. I could be imagining this, but I have a recollection of learning that iOS devices do a lot of background syncing and whatnot when they are first set up. So I’d be interested in seeing you do this test again in a couple weeks.

  4. I’ve always wondered about this. At what duration airline flight should the user quit macOS versus merely enabling Airplane Mode?

  5. My iPad Mini 2’s battery is weird. Some days I’ll charge it up in the afternoon and it’ll be at 80% by bedtime and then at 15% when I wake up. Sometimes it behaves more normally. I’ve turned off background app refresh (it never leaves the house and is usually just for accessing Facebook and Twitter and a little light web browsing) and I close apps I’m not using (and yes, I know Apple claims this isn’t useful but I’m nothing if not obsessive) so I don’t know what could be eating up all that battery.

    At this point I’m ready to just replace it with a full-size iPad (a refurb 10.5″ Pro would suit me perfectly) but honestly, apart from the battery, the mini works well, so maybe i should just replace the battery instead?

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