How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

Summary: I don't normally do tips and techniques in this column, but when my iPhone went from lasting less than a day to lasting more than a week, I figured I'd post a tip.

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I'm generally one of those people who reads product manuals cover-to-cover. But when it comes to Apple products, I often just glance at the minimalistic documentation, use the product, eventually get annoyed, and complain.

My annoyance is often justified. Apple products tend to have some sort of moronic limitation that's completely insurmountable -- because Apple generally thinks its consumers are incapable or unwilling to use advanced features and settings, and so doesn't provide any option to fix the problems (which Apple rarely even acknowledges exist).

That's why my original Apple TV won't let me unfavorite items, for example. It's got a bit corrupted somewhere in the system, and doesn't offer an advanced "rebuild icons" feature. Instead, the company just suggests reformatting to factory original condition. And that's just one example of many annoyances, and why I'm often whining about Cupertino's products.

On occasion, however, there's actually a way to get around an annoyance. This is the case with my ancient iPhone 3G. Yes, I still have my iPhone 3G because I can't decide between waiting for an iPhone 5 or getting an Android phone -- which I'm sure will annoy me in new and wonderful ways.

In any case, I've been perpetually cranky about my iPhone (in part, just 'cause it's an iPhone), but in a major part because the battery couldn't last a full day, even with barely any use.

I don't talk on my iPhone. I just don't. I use it for email almost exclusively. Even so (and yes, I check email every hour or so), the phone shouldn't run out of juice in 10 hours. It just shouldn't.

Sigh. As it turns out, Apple may be right. Some customers (okay, me, are you happy now?) didn't dig around enough in the settings and advanced features.

There's a setting in the Settings app, in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars section. Flick down, until you see Fetch New Data. If your battery is getting sucked down, it might be set to something like "Push" or "15 Min".

If your setting is set like this, your iPhone is constantly churning its battery to get your mail, and it's going to suck your battery like vampires suck blood.

There is -- much to my chagrin -- an easy fix. Tap that setting, go into the Fetch New Data submenu, turn Push off and set Fetch to Manually.

Now go back to Mail and your Fetch New Data field should be set to Off:

I don't normally do tips and techniques in this column, but when my iPhone went from lasting less than a day to lasting more than a week, I figured I'd post a tip. Since my iPhone also went from being a constant source of annoyance to being merely a regular source of annoyance, I figured I'd share with the few of you out there that don't know about this particular (and surprisingly useful) setting.

Update: One detail I forgot (I wrote this before coffee). You'll now have to hit the refresh button in your Mail app to check new mail. Small price to pay for less iPhone suckage, though, huh?

Special thanks go to my wife. When she recently bought her iPhone (and yes, she loves it, sigh), she read all the documentation and discovered this little gem on the first night. So here's a tip within a tip: when you get married, marry someone who's not only pretty, but smart as well. If you're a little like me, finding someone who's highly tolerant would also be a good attribute to look for.

Go ahead. TalkBack. You know you're going to (and, sadly, I know what you're going to say). Whatever.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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Talkback

119 comments
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  • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

    "... finding someone who?s highly tolerant would also be a good attribute to look for."

    Best. Advice. Ever.
    flargh
    • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

      @flargh

      *grin*
      josh92
    • Message has been deleted.

      litigationtech
    • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

      I wonder what such a person looked in Gewirtz to marry him.
      nomorebs
  • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

    turning the screen brightness and WiFi to low/off will also increase battery life a decent amount (on any phone)
    PriMinister
    • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

      @PriMinister except that iPhone doesn't have a low setting for WiFi, just an on and off. And a "Ask to join networks" that you should really turn off.
      Champ_Kind
      • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

        @Champ_Kind @PriMinister means turn the brightness to low and turn the WiFi off.
        sunny.3mysore
    • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

      @PriMinister
      Wouldn't you want to keep wi-fi on? I feel an unstable 3G connection is going to drain it faster
      dave.smags
  • Welcome to 2007...

    How to improve battery life even more. Switch to airplane mode. It will last a month. :-) Seriously, switching off the 3G radio does save battery quite a bit.

    Your tip is fine but you will never get a new e-mail notification. So you will need to check your e-mail every 15 minutes anyway. Which of course will use more battery then letting the phone check it for you and give you a nice beep.
    dazzlingd
    • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

      @dazzlingd

      This tip did seem to work for David, however. Real life experience always trumps theory .. no matter how good or correct the theory is.
      kenosha77a
    • I will not be a slave to my cell phone.

      @dazzlingd I look at email, texting and cell phones a little differently. You have a choice be a slave to these things, and let them manage you... Or you can use these tools to manage your work. I turned off all notications on email and texting, my productivity is much higher now. I check and respond to email and texts when I have scheduled time for that. Typically once in the AM and once in the PM. I will screen phone calls with caller ID. You'll be surprised how much more work you get done. BTW, Your boss will appreciate your increased productivity as well.
      jhuddle
      • It's not about slavery ... it is about productivity

        @jhuddle

        Depending upon your needs, it can be of great value for you to receive those notifications, even if you don't check it often. David's needs a re different from yours. Still, your smatphone needs to be available when you need it. Period. It is isn't available throughout a workday, it is not meetiing your needs. Period.

        Frankly, it is interesting that David keeps buying Apple products if he is so frustrated with them. He is correct though. Their primary design goal is simplicity and that always means fewer features.
        M Wagner
      • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

        @jhuddle I get plenty of emails that I need to react to within 5 minutes, or someone will get pretty annoyed.

        I'll get automated emails from software I wrote on servers alerting me when something isn't going right. Or I'll get emails from users or coworkers to let me know when something goes down or isn't working right. Reacting within a minute to reacting once my next email break comes around could make a giant difference.

        Not saying that your system works great for you, just that it doesn't work for everyone. I need my push alerts :D
        vel0city
      • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

        @jhuddle @vel0city If your job description reads respond to emails within five minutes, than yes you need push. That is not what I am getting at. Most people let these tools manage their time and workflow. I will challenge everyone on this behavior. Everyone I work with knows that emergent issues require a phone call, anything else can be communicated by email and they will get a response within the day. Now I know that this will not work for everyone, but trust me when you stop letting these tools dictate your time and workflow you will be more productive. All I am saying try managing this tech, instead of letting it manage you. Step outside the box, and breath the fresh air my friends.
        BTW the way if David needed his email instantly, I doubt he would be advocating turning off push email. I suspect that David is more like me, in that he does not need to be bugged every two minutes.
        jhuddle
      • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

        @jhuddle
        AGREE!!!!!!!!
        I too was a slave to email, until I switched to manual pull (on my Windows Phone 7 - same principle).
        Now I rule!
        jaykayess
      • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

        @mwagner@... Sometimes I wonder if David hangs onto the iPhone so he can feel, in his mind at least, justified in all his anti Apple rants. If somebody is honestly so frustrated with his iPhone then why would he even consider a new one?
        non-biased
    • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

      @dazzlingd Ya ewww changing email settings, wow super advanced. Funny, I have three exchange accounts, a gmail, a facebook with two thousand contacts total all set to push and the battery on my Droid X lasts about two days. Your mail server must not be pushing. Maybe it's running pop in reality.
      LarsDennert
      • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

        @LarsDennert can you tell me your DroidX setting magic? Mine barely lasts the day - 3 gmail accounts, about 3k contacts.
        howardgr
    • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

      @dazzlingd Getting a new email notification is impractical for me. I get a new email message every half minute or so -- on a slow day. Although it's slowed down some since I started using three stages of spam filter, I still get about 5,000 messages a day (remember, press folks get a ton of press releases, plus work stuff, plus the govt stuff I have to keep in the loop with). I don't read it all, but my phone would be bleeping, crying, and whining constantly (as does any new 'puter until I remember to turn email notification off).
      David Gewirtz
      • RE: How to improve your iPhone's battery by, like, a billion percent

        @David Gewirtz
        Gee, and I complain about getting 300-400 emails a day. Of course I have to read most of them.
        r_rosen