Low iPhone battery? Why closing apps won't help.

An Apple executive has responded to one of the iPhone's biggest mysteries: "Does shutting down apps open in the background help save battery power?" The answer was no, but these tips will. 

Damir Sagolj/Reuters/File
A man takes pictures as Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus go on sale at an Apple Store in Beijing, Sept. 25, 2015. .

Closing unused iPhone apps won’t fix help the phone’s battery life, Apple says.

On Monday, Apple iOS chief Craig Federighi responded to a customer email asking if shutting down apps in the background was necessary to preserve battery life on iPhones. The answer was a succinct, “No” – big news for many iPhone users who endure the tedious process of double-clicking the home button and swiping up on each individual open app to fully close them. The email exchange was posted on 9to5Mac

The iPhone has garnered a reputation for having a short battery life, spurred by instances of battery issues after some iOS updates and a transition to a smaller battery from the iPhone 6 to the newer iPhone 6s, according to Tech Times.  

Shutting down running iPhone apps that are not being used does not effectively help save battery life because those apps already stopped using the phone’s resources after being pushed to the background, as former Genius Bar worker and writer Scotty Loveless explained for LifeHacker in 2014:

The truth is, those apps in your multitasking menu are not running in the background at all: iOS freezes them where you last left the app so that it's ready to go if you go back. Unless you have enabled Background App Refresh, your apps are not allowed to run in the background unless they are playing music, using location services, recording audio, or the sneakiest of them all: checking for incoming VOIP calls, like Skype. All of these exceptions, besides the latter, will put an icon next to your battery icon to alert you it is running in the background.

Mr. Loveless goes on to say that fully shutting down apps could actually cause a net drain in battery life, as it forces iPhones to reopen the program and all peripheral programs from scratch.

The myth that closing down apps fully could save battery on an iPhone may have been perpetuated by the technique being an effective solution for other types of smart phones.

Shutting down unused program in Android and Microsoft phones can help users save on battery life, with a few caveats, according to the BBC.

But don't worry: Apple did provide tips proven to preserve the battery life of an iPhone, including:

  • Keep your iPhone up-to-date with the latest iOS updates
  • Reduce brightness, use WiFi, and enable low battery power, a new iOS 9 feature, when the battery is low
  • Don't expose your phone to temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Take your phone out of its case before charging

iOS 9 also introduced improved battery usage information that can help identify apps that are taking a disproportionate about of battery power, says Apple. Battery usage information can be found on the "Settings" page under "Battery."

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