Battery-Saving Tips for iOS and Android users

Rob Attrell

February 6, 2016 1:00pm

The smartphone battery is one of the most lamented smartphone features when a new device hits the market. Aside from a select few phones with extra-large batteries, the majority of smartphones barely make it through a day of moderate to heavy use.

Android and iOS both have different approaches to power management, but in the end, the goal is for a phone to manage its own power use seamlessly, without affecting performance throughout the day, in any number of environments.

Let’s compare how iOS 9.2 and Android 6.0 handle battery management in a few important ways.

Battery Display

Since the battery is one of the most important parts of a phone (it will not function without it, after all), it’s no surprise that both iOS and Android put the phone’s battery level indicator right in the status bar all the time.

On iOS, you can toggle the numeric battery percentage indicator on or off based on your personal preference for a cleaner status bar, versus seeing more detailed battery information.

Battery display is very similar between iOS and Android

With Android, your options are more broad, and there are innumerable apps that let you customize the experience. The default look for Android’s battery indicator shows no percentage, though, swiping down to see the full control centre does show the remaining battery as a percentage.

Battery Optimization


If a device is constantly running at full power, it will obviously run out of battery very quickly, and so modern mobile operating systems are built specifically to use power only when necessary.

The Doze feature in Android 6.0 Marshmallow is tuned and optimized to leave the CPU off for periods of downtime, batching necessary commands into discrete units used to power the device as efficiently as possible. The system also optimizes each app based on its power needs with that particular device, so the experience as a whole is very efficient.

iOS, similarly, takes advantage of batching of operations to use power sparingly unless it’s needed for a particular task while the phone is running apps. As the operating system has gotten more advanced, background tasks can ask for more CPU time for operations, but this is tightly controlled so its difficult for an app to burn through battery without the user being aware of it.

Detailed Battery Stats

All the battery optimization on Android or iOS means nothing if there are one or two apps on your device using all your power in just a few hours.

Both Apple and Google have come up with interesting ways of displaying information about how your apps use or abuse the remaining power on your phone.

Android and iOS both break down the biggest battery hogs.

On iOS, the primary concern in the battery section is letting users see at a glance how much battery power is being used by each app, as well as exactly how long that app has been open to warrant that power use. With iOS 9, if an app plays audio, or uses background processes, you can see exactly how much power that process has used, for either the last 24 hours, or 7 days.

For instance, in my case, I’ve played several hours of Candy Crush in the last 24 hours, because I have a problem. Still, I can clearly see that the app used almost half my battery strictly because I used the app for 17 hours in the last week. This breakdown is extremely helpful, and also makes it easy to see which apps are causing your battery problems.

One tap gives you more details about your use of a particular app.

In Android’s battery settings, things aren’t nearly as straightforward, but you get even more detail than you do with iOS. In the settings on Android, the first thing you’ll see is a big graph showing when the system thinks your battery will run out, based on current usage. This will give some idea of just how efficient your battery is, too, if you see long flat portions in the graph when not using the phone.

After that, Android also breaks out battery usage into separate apps, and you can click on any app to see more detailed information. From there, depending on the app, you might see how long it has been open/on for, an estimate of how much actual battery power the app has used in mAh, and the total time the CPU was active.

Another nice touch in the Android battery settings is that for services, each details screen displays tips about how to reduce the battery use of the feature in question.

Low Power / Battery Saver Mode

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, both iOS and most recent versions of Android feature a ‘Low Power’ mode, where non-essential background functions are switched off. The screen is aggressively dimmed and interface animations are either turned off or minimized.


Turn on battery saver early if you’re going to have a long day

On Android, this mode is usually called Battery Saver (in Android 5.x and above). It can be turned on at any time, and set to enable automatically when between five and fifteen percent of the battery is remaining. The status bar turns a bright orange in this mode, and the phone will cease background uploads and downloads. The frequency of normal tasks like fetching email is reduced as well.

iOS also has a Low Power mode in battery settings, and this switch goes on automatically when the cell hits 20 percent. Similar to Android, background processes will slow or stop completely, and the phone effectively only displays notifications and runs the app that’s currently open.


Battery saver: Android is obvious; iOS is very subtle

In the case of both iOS and Android, the effect of low power mode is similar to going back three to four years in the mobile operating system ecosystem. Power use is greatly reduced because the phone isn’t working all the time in the background to update app content, or to make sure that all photos have been backed up. The phone is basically a cellular device connected to the internet that runs one app at a time.

When I know I have a long day ahead of me and that my battery could potentially run out, I will often turn on low power mode preemptively in the morning. When you want to prioritize having a phone at all, over it running its maximum potential all day, low power mode is a great way to accomplish this.

Final Thoughts

Both Apple and Android have taken great strides in improving battery efficiency over the last 10 years. Our mobile devices are extremely well-tuned to last as long as possible, while providing significant power for advanced functionality. Even if you are experiencing battery issues, it’s not possible to pinpoint exactly which apps or services are being excessive, making it difficult to limit this issue.

For the average smartphone user, I have no doubt that the iPhone battery is good enough to get through a day. For others, I would strongly recommend getting your hands on an external battery pack. Mophie sells great batteries for mobile devices, and their packs are small enough that they are not a nuisance to carry around compared to what you get out of having them. Some larger Android devices, like the Nexus 6P or Moto X Play, swap thinness for longevity in a quest to cure battery issues.

There will always be complaints about the battery life on smartphones until we get capacitive charging where 30 seconds on a charger gets you a week of use, but until then, with a little tweaking, we’ve still got it pretty good.

  • Stuntman06

    How about telling phone makers make their phones thicker so they can put a larger battery in it. So many people complain about better life on phones and yet so few complain that phones are too thick or heavy. In fact, some even complain that they are too light.

    • gommer strike

      Today we have to resort to brute force(shoving in just a plain bigger one), and software optimization(yeah that helps to a degree).

      But what about just the battery technology in general. Or some way of “renewing” juice whilst on the go. And that’s not even mentioning easily the biggest consumer of battery – the screen. Do we really need QHD and above on a portable mobile device?

      Gotta find some way to get back to the good ol’ days when our cellphones were good for *weeks* on one charge.

    • Stuntman06

      As battery technology advances, I found that it does not mean longer battery life for users. It means that phone manufactures are just putting in smaller batteries in the phones. There seems to be a race to make the first phone that can slice tomatoes instead of making a phone whose battery life can last for days.

    • Brad Fortin

      There are phones with bigger batteries but the first things people always say are always “it’s so big” and “it’s so heavy”, like the Sonim XP7.

  • Techguru86

    Note was thick, Passport, Z30 but never sacrificed in battery performance, I care more about battery life then my smartphone being thin

  • Christopher T

    Battery stamina used to be a big problem for me until my nexus 5 broke and I replaced it with a moto e. After a day off heavy usage, I typically have 50% battery left. It blows my mind. I’d gladly trade some performance for not having to charge my phone 3x a day.

  • StA


    • Ipse

      +1 for Greenify even without root.
      I’m forced to use Mobile Iron and Greenify puts the bastard to sleep helping me to get through the day….absolutely impossible otherwise.

  • Longtin

    I don’t understand. I personally haven’t had a battery problem with my LG G3, G4, M9; as they all last more than a day. Usually about 1 day and a half, sometimes 2 and I’m considered a above moderate user. The only iPhone that is capable of doing so in my personal experience is the Plus versions of the iPhone 6 and 6S. We do need a breakthrough in battery technology. The fast charging and “wireless” charging are helpful.

    You are right, the average user will be able to use any high end smartphone and have it last a day no problem! However I’m sure everyone would agree that charging your phone once a week would be awesome! Until than those people that desperately need more juice in a day (Extreme – Heavy users) might as well just go for a G4 and buy an extra battery that you can swap out at anytime that way you won’t need to sacrafice thinkness haha


    Buy a ChenBerry

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      Get a life…


      check that mirror

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      Sure thing SUXDIX


      Cool story dude…::.

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards



      More cool stories

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      RE-PETE, is that you?


      Yawnnnn.. More laser (or loser???) pressed comments.

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      So sad that you’re too fuqqin stupid to know the difference between an “@” and an “a”.


      Signs of another AstroTurfer

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards




    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      Looking in the mirror?


      All I see is one handsome dude when I look in the mirror.. I’m sure you blame the mirror for adding that extra 30 lbs, Laurdo.

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      Sure you do scrawny biiiiiiitch.


      Nope.. Keep trying pressed AstroTurfed loooooooser

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      RE-PETE.. I knew it was you.. how sad and pathetic.


      PressedBerry has you in a bad mood.

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      Cute… you and your hubby are posting at the EXACT same time…how sweet


      Don’t have a husband, so keep tying.. Laser, or is it loser ?

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards



      Stay pressed Laurdo

    • Whaaa Whaaaa Flagging Cowards

      Stay pathetic dumb fuq


      Woah, you need to chill there coach

  • Garrett Cooper

    “Even if you are experiencing battery issues, it’s not possible to pinpoint exactly which apps or services are being excessive, making it difficult to limit this issue.”

    Sure it is, damn Google Chrome and the active mobile radio issue, or whatever it’s called. Seems to be the only thing that kills my battery.

  • Kinro

    6 Hours on Candy Crush in the past 24 hours…

  • It seems that facebook messenger excessively taxes the battery, at least for me.

  • blzd

    “intro to how battery stats work on iOS and Android” would be a better title. The only tip I see is to use battery saver mode.

  • hunkyleepickle

    My note 4 still lasts 2 days most of the time, I put a new battery in it after about a year. As much as I’d like a newer phone, I can’t part with what is still one of the longest lasting phones going.

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  • Thanks for showing me you care about my Lumia. Battery saver all the way!!!