You should change this one setting on your iPhone if you want better battery life

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Will Wei/Business Insider

  • Adjusting your iPhone’s “Background App Refresh” setting can help you save battery life and data.
  • Background App Refresh is a feature that enables apps to update with new information in the background.
  • You can turn the feature off, only enable it when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, or only apply it to specific apps.
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Considering we rely on our smartphones for just about everything – from getting directions to listening to music and answering work emails – your phone’s battery life can never last long enough.

If you find that your iPhone’s battery life isn’t meeting expectations, try managing the way your phone is refreshing apps in the background. Not only will it preserve some battery life, but it will probably cut down on your data usage too.

There are many adjustments you can make to save battery life: lowering the screen brightness, turning off location services for certain apps, and disabling push notifications for some apps are all great examples. You can also put your phone in Low Power Mode if you’re low on juice, which reduces features like “Hey Siri” and automatic downloads among other features and pauses backing up your photos to iCloud.

But making changes to Background App Refresh can help extend battery life without sacrificing much functionality.

Here’s a look at the various ways you can tweak the Background App Refresh setting on your iPhone to extend its battery life and preserve data.


Turn off Background App Refresh.

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Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

If saving battery life and data is your top priority, you can turn off Background App Refresh altogether. Background App Refresh allows suspended apps to check for updates and new content while they’re running in the background. That way the next time you visit that app, it’s updated with the latest information.

To completely turn off Background App Refresh, open the iPhone’s “Settings” menu, tap “General,” and choose “Background App Refresh.” From there, press “Background App Refresh” and select “Off.”

Read more: Check out the new emoji coming to your iPhone this fall


Limit Background App Refresh to Wi-Fi only.

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Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

If you still want apps to update in the background but don’t want to drain your data, you can adjust your iPhone’s settings to make it so that apps only refresh when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. This will also likely preserve some battery life since presumably these apps will refresh less often.

To do this, follow the same steps described in the previous slide and make sure “Wi-Fi” is selected under “Background App Refresh” instead of “Wi-Fi & Cellular Data.”


Turn Background App Refresh on or off for individual apps.

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Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

You may only care about making sure certain apps remain up to date when running in the background. If that’s the case, you can choose to only enable Background App Refresh for specific apps. That can be particularly useful if you have a lot of apps on your phone that you no longer use and want to prevent such apps from draining your battery or data.

To do this, follow the same steps described in the first slide. Instead of tapping the “Background App Refresh”option located near the top of the screen in the “Background App Refresh” section of the settings menu, scroll down to view the apps installed on your phone. Toggle the switch next to an app to turn Background App Refresh on or off for that specific app.


See which apps are using the most battery in the background.

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Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

If you only want to enable Background App Refresh for some apps but not all of them, knowing which apps hog the most battery life while running in the background could be a good place to start. To view this information, open your iPhone’s “Settings” menu, choose “Battery,” and scroll down to the “Battery usage by app” sub-section. This area will show you which apps are consuming the most battery and whether they’re eating up power in the background.