Last January 2020, my siblings and I upgraded our 4-to-6-year-old phones to the latest model at the time, iPhone 11 Pro Max. Apart from the cracks on the screens and dents on the side, our main reason for upgrading was the battery.
Battery degradation was increasingly annoying
My sister's 5-year-old iPhone 6 lasts only 1 hour with LTE and continuous use, whereas my 4-year-old iPhone 7 lasts only 2-3 hours with the same. At around 20% battery level, the phone will die when you're on an audio/video call. We have had to bring a powerbank wherever we go.
The worst-case was trying to book a cab during the busy nights of the 3rd quarter, 2019. I remember one time I had to walk 3km back to the office to charge my phone after waiting 2 hours for a cab because my powerbank died and my phone was about to die. Another was on a Friday afternoon during rush hour when my friend and I spent 2 hours booking and waiting for a cab.
I could create a lengthy catalog of scenarios when my phone battery inconvenienced me -- and I am positive that I am not alone in this. I vowed to perform better once I upgrade my phone -- and I did.
Once I got my phone, I researched and collected tips on how to extend the battery life of my iPhone and shared them with my family and close friends. Unfortunately, I was the only one who religiously followed the list below.
After one year, my battery's maximum capacity is still at 99%, whereas my siblings' were at around 85%
Prevention is better than cure
After the upgrade in January 2020, my siblings and I had the same phone -- and are therefore on equal footing. Then in December, I checked my siblings' and my phone battery's health, comparing the maximum capacity (Go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health):
- Mine (minimal LTE use due to lockdown): 99%
- Sibling 1 (minimal LTE use, multiple months during lockdown w/o using LTE): 89%
- Sibling 3 (uses LTE more than half a day): 81%
- Sibling 2 (uses LTE a couple of hours a day): 85%
Why is there a sizeable gap between our battery's capacity? The difference lies in the charge cycles, usage, and how we took care of our batteries.
I was very consistent in following the tips outlined below, which have significantly helped extend my iPhone's battery life.
Apple lithium-ion batteries work in charge cycles. You complete one charge cycle when you’ve used (discharged) an amount that equals 100% of your battery’s capacity — but not necessarily all from one charge. For instance, you might use 75% of your battery’s capacity one day, then recharge it fully overnight. If you use 25% the next day, you will have discharged a total of 100%...
More on charge cycles here.
Tips on how to extend the battery life
It is important to note that it is natural for the battery's capacity to diminish as you use your phone. Every mobile phone battery’s capacity diminishes after 500 to 1000 charge-discharge cycles. You complete a charge cycle when you use 100% of your battery (not necessarily in one charge).
- Heat is bad for your iPhone's battery. Don’t charge your iPhone when it’s hot outside, or you're under the heat of the sun. Only charge your phone if the ambient temperature is less than 35 degrees Celsius.
- Remove iPhone Case when charging. If your iPhone is hot while charging, remove the iPhone case, else the battery capacity will decrease.
- Half-charge when you store it long-term. When you intend to store your iPhone or not use it for a while, ensure that your iPhone has half a charge and not empty.
- Enable Auto-brightness. Enable auto-brightness to extend battery life. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Turn on Auto-Brightness.
- WiFi over Data. WiFi uses less power than data. Turn off mobile data and mobile hotspot when WiFi is available.
- Overnight charging is discouraged. Charging phones overnight is risky because it may catch fire as phones generate heat. Charging overnight can also shorten your battery's lifespan.
For more information, the sources are here, here, and here.
The sweet spot is 40% - 80%. Experts’ opinions on Lithium-Ion batteries are unanimous – you should keep your iPhone charged at a battery level of 40%-80%.
How to achieve a maximum capacity of 99% after one year
Degrading the capacity of my iPhone's battery by 1% after 11 months (to be exact), seems to be an improbable task.
As mentioned, I am consistent and religious in observing the items above, most especially the last point, keeping my battery level between 40% and 80%. It was no easy task, especially at the beginning. It entailed discipline and persistence.
Here are a couple of factors that contributed to the preservation of my phone's battery life.
- Whenever I charge my phone, I set a timer, estimating when it will reach 80%. Now, I run an automation/shortcut to do the task (article coming this month). I observed that my iPhone 11 Pro Max charges at around 1%-2% per minute and set my timer based on that.
- To prevent overnight charging before COVID, I charge my phone more often, at least 3x a day:
- Once I get to the office
- Before I leave work
- A few hours before bed
- I avoid charging my phone when I'm outdoors. If it can't be helped, I ensure my phone is inside my bag so as to prevent direct exposure to sunlight.
- It's easier to stick to the routine above during the lockdown when everyone was working from home. Further, there's less need for mobile data usage or LTE since there's WiFi at home. I only use LTE when our WiFi signal is weak or when it doesn't reach certain areas of the house.
At the time of writing this article, 14 months after the purchase, my maximum battery capacity is down to 91%. I maintain that this is pretty good considering I didn't have WiFi access for a month this year. Plus, it's still higher than my siblings' capacity after 11 months. 😂
Follow the tips above and do your best to be consistent -- even if you miss a day or two, just keep going. Your efforts every day will compound to greater rewards in the long run.
I'd love to hear about your experience on this. Let me know how it goes, or if you've noticed an impact.