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How to improve your iPhone and iPad battery life with iOS 10

Apple's iOS 10 update will keep your iPhone and iPad battery running longer. Here's how to conserve power with the latest software.
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By Zack Whittaker, Contributor on
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1 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Making the most out of your iPhone's battery

iOS 10, the latest iteration of Apple's mobile operating system, is out for iPhone and iPad users to download.

Battery life gets better with every release, but it's still a far way from a full day's charge. Here are a number of power-saving tweaks to save your battery life.

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Limit apps from churning up data, power in the background

Apps that refresh in the background with the latest data can churn up valuable cellular or Wi-Fi data, even when you're not using them. Some can be useful, while others may not be. For instance, while it may be useful for a mapping app to provide you with turn-by-turn directions on the road, you may not want your Stocks app to update if you don't need up-to-the-minute information on the financial market.

To change this setting, tap through to Settings > General > Background App Refresh, then deselect apps that you do not want to update in the background.

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See which apps are sucking up the most power

iOS 10 tells you which apps churn up the most battery life. Often the top ones are in-built features, like the "Home & Lock Screen." But, you can see which third-party apps use the most battery, too, and decide whether to keep using them.

Go to Settings > Battery and scroll down. This gives you the last few hours of battery usage, as well as how long apps have been open.

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Disable auto-brightness and adjust manually

Your iOS device's "auto-brightness" feature dynamically increases and reduces the brightness of the screen, based on how light it is around you. But this can drain the battery.

The best practice seems to point to disabling the auto-brightness. Go to Settings > Display & Brightness, then reduce the brightness to 10-25 percent, or depending on your personal preferences.

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Disable fitness tracking on iPhone

The sensors in your iPhone will build up a profile of your fitness and activity levels for the day. Some users don't want this, and will experience unnecessary battery drain as a result.

You can disable it by going to Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness and switching off the Fitness Tracking setting.

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Use AirDrop sparingly, and only when needed

AirDrop allows you to share files and photos with other users wirelessly when they are in close proximity. But it can take a heavy toll on your battery, particularly when AirDrop is in "discoverable" mode.

Simply swipe up from your home screen to bring up the Control Center, then tap AirDrop. Select Off when you're not using it.

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Keep Wi-Fi on at home or at work

If you are at work or at home, and you're in a building where cell service is weak -- such as a thick-walled house or a city apartment -- you might find that leaving Wi-Fi turned on and connected to a stable network helps your battery throughout the day. That's because otherwise your device is searching and "pinging" for a higher-quality cell site with better signal.

Under the swipe-up Control Center, tap the Wi-Fi button (second in from the left) on. Or, go to Settings > Wi-Fi, and set to On.

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Switch off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth unless you need them

If you are not near or not using a Wi-Fi hotspot, or sending items to other devices using Bluetooth, these can (and should) be turned off.

Under the swipe-up Control Center, tap the Wi-Fi button (second in from the left) off, and the Bluetooth button (middle) also off.

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Enable "airplane mode" when you're out of cell service

If your device is constantly searching and "pinging" for a higher-quality cell site when one isn't available, such as when you're riding the subway, it's a good idea to let it rest in "airplane mode".

Under the swipe-up Control Center, tap the Airplane Mode button (first on the left). You can tap it again to switch all radios back on again.

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Disable location-related system services

Location services use GPS for location-aware apps and services. While it's useful knowing where you are on a map, what you don't see is what is going on behind the scenes. Ads are being displayed based on your location, and traffic data is updated -- meanwhile, your iPhone or iPad is always pinging out to see where you are. All of these things are unnecessary and churn up your battery life.

Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. When On, scroll down to System Services, then uncheck all of these items. When you're not using Location Services, such as GPS, simply turn it Off.

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11 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Watch video, play games sparingly

Watching video and listening to music can churn up a great deal of battery life, not least because your display will be on for the duration when watching video. Use sparingly and only when you have to. If you're on a long airplane or train journey, listening to music is better as it doesn't light up the display -- or read a book.

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Make sure your iPhone, iPad doesn't get too warm

Try to ensure your iPhone or iPad doesn't get too hot or cold. Your iPhone in particular will generate heat depending on what it is being used for, like video calls. Keeping your device at a good temperature is important. The warmer your device gets, the faster the battery will deplete. Some cases can cause the device to get warm, so choose your accessories and cases carefully.

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Adjust human behavior: Don't check your device as much!

While it is often tempting to pick up your phone and check to see if there are any messages, notifications, or missed calls, one of the easiest ways of keeping your battery ticking over is to stop picking it up every few minutes. Putting your device to "sleep" and "waking" it up will drain battery life.

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Cheat! Buy an external battery

If all else fails and battery life continues to be a problem, consider an external battery pack, or carry around a USB charger with you. Some external batteries will extend the battery life of your iPhone two-fold, if not longer. There are some wrap-around cases that clip to your phone and can be activated with a switch, though these will make your iPhone thicker in size and heavier to carry.

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