12 Desperate Battery-Saving Measures for Your iPhone

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
November 29, 2014

You’re out in da club, or a Starbucks parking lot, or wherever it is that cool people like you spend their evenings these days, and your smartphone is low on battery. No one in your direct vicinity has a phone charger.

You need just a little bit more juice out of your smartphone — enough to find your way home or to coordinate your next stop. What do you do?

Here are a few last-ditch tricks to avoid total shutdown. May the lithium-ion gods be with you.

1. Kill Paralax.
It’s a beautiful visual feature of iOS 7, but it’s also a huge battery drain. Plus, maybe it makes you want to vomit?

Turn it off by going to Settings → General → Accessibility → Reduce Motion. Turn Reduce Motion on. 

2. Kill background app updates.
The last thing you need when your battery life is hanging on for dear life is some random photo app you downloaded three months ago sucking the life out of your phone while it updates.

Turn it off by going to Settings → iTunes & App Store. Scroll down, and under a section called Automatic Downloads you’ll see Updates. Turn that off. But, remember, this means you’ll need to either update your apps manually or remember to turn this feature on again when you’re at a full charge.

3. Kill background app refreshing.
In a similar vein, you probably don’t need your Instagram feed to update every time someone posts a photo of her fancy cocktail.

Turn it off by going to Settings → General → Background App Refresh. Turn Background App Refresh off. You can always turn it back on when you’re in a location with more plentiful electricity.

4. End the search for WiFi.
This recommendation is based on the assumption that you’re not currently in a WiFi-blessed location. If your WiFi is nevertheless enabled, that means your phone is constantly searching for a new network to hook up with, draining your cherished battery in the process. Turn it off by swiping your thumb up from the bottom of your phone’s screen. A mini control panel should pop up. Simply tap the WiFi symbol so that it is no longer highlighted in white.

5. Kill Bluetooth/AirDrop.
While you’re in that handy control panel, make sure that the Bluetooth symbol is also off. It’s rare that you need Bluetooth in desperate situations, unless your emergency requires blasting Beyoncé from a Pill speaker or something.

6. Kill all unnecessary location services.
You definitely might need Google Maps to know where you are. But Snapchat? Shazam? CNN?! Never. Go to Settings  Privacy  Location Services to see all the apps that are pinpointing your location at any given moment. Chances are only about a fourth of them are necessary. Turn off the superfluous stuff to eliminate all that battery-sucking GPS polling.

Or, if you really only need your phone for texting and calling, you can eliminate location tracking altogether by switching off Location Services at the top of your phone.

7. Kill auto-brightness.
Desperate times call for desperate eye-straining situations. And if that means squinting at a dimly lit phone screen, so be it. Turn off your auto-brightness settings by going to Settings  Wallpapers & Brightness. Above that option, you can manually adjust the brightness of the screen. (You can also do this on the handy control panel you used to turn off your WiFi and Bluetooth.) Adjust accordingly. When I wade into dangerously low battery levels, I tend to keep it as low as possible until I actually need to use it. Lighting up the display can seriously drain your battery. 

8. Say no to push notifications.
Push notifications are more invasive than they are useful, and if you’re out trying to enjoy yourself or your drive home, they’re probably distracting, too. Plus, they drain power. Precious, precious power.

Turn them off by going to Settings  Notification Center. Scroll down to the section called Include. You’ll probably want to keep essentials like Phone, Messages and Maps. But you can toggle the others off.

Every time you click a different app, there will be several different types of alerts you can choose to eliminate. Show on Lock Screen is the most essential to turn off, since that will illuminate your display. But if you don’t want banners to appear in the drop-down feature at the top of your screen, you can opt to kill those, too.

9. Siphon off your email stream.
Chances are, at this very moment, you are not interested in reading about Virgin America’s super-cheap flights to Miami. Spare your battery the work it takes to process incoming spam by going to Settings  Mail, Contacts, Calendars  Fetch New Data.Turn off the Push feature if you’d like to temporarily nip the endless stream of messages in your inbox. 

Then you can scroll down to the Fetch section and select how often your phone will update your inboxes.

Or you can adjust those features manually for each email account.

10. Kill Siri.
How do we put this delicately? Speaking with Siri takes … patience. And battery life. So it’s probably better to just figure things out on your own if you’re down to single-digit battery power. Turn off her Raise to Speak feature in Settings  General  Siri  Raise to Speak. Chances are you might entirely forget to turn her back on.

11. Kill LTE.
LTE helps load your data much faster, but it is definitely more of a battery-suck than regular cellular data. Go to Settings  Cellular and swipe the toggle next to Enable LTE. This is a desperation move, sure, but it can make a difference when it comes down to it. 

12. Be mindful.
Little things on your phone matter when you’re down to the wire. Meaning you shouldn’t use battery-sucking features like your flashlight or camera unless you happen to come across an alien abduction. And even keeping your Google Maps app open on your phone screen as you drive can be draining. So remain vigilant and scrupulous. We guarantee you will eventually find your way home to a beloved charger.

If you’ve got plenty of battery power, surf on over to Facebook and like Yahoo Tech for all the latest tech news and tips