It’s been a year since we’ve had a major iOS release and even before people have finished installing iOS 13, there’s new battery life conspiracy theories. Has Apple missed the boat with iOS 13 again? For all of its battery health settings, is it still bad at battery optimization?

Early in the Public Beta, I saw some pretty significant battery performance issues. However, I was running unoptimized beta software that I thought needed further tweaking to be perfect. By mid-to-late Beta, things were back to normal. So was it the software’s fault? 

Yes and no.

Indexing Blues

iOS 13 is definitely to blame for your iPhone not lasting as long as usual, but it’s not because Apple has secret code embedded in the new operating system that “targets” older phones (nor is it because you’ve spent the past two days mastering Apple Arcade’s Grindstone). 

In the days after you install a new version of iOS, it’s busy doing all sorts of housekeeping. 

The biggest one of these is re-indexing. During this process, iOS 13 combs through all of the data on your device so that it can be cataloged for quick Spotlight searching. This takes a ton of processing power and chews through battery life like a hamster through a cardboard box.

There An App (Update) For That

If you’re like most people, you turned on Automatic App Updates in the App Store long ago. While it’s gotten better over time, on launch day of a new iOS, nearly all of the apps on your device still have an update of some sort. iOS 13 is busy downloading and installing everything from the social media app you keep saying you’re going to uninstall (but don’t) to all six of the tile-matching games you keep installed “in case you get bored.” As this is happening in the background, you’re going to see a power drain. A significant one. 

So How Do You Fix Battery Life in iOS 13?

Wait.

That’s it. Nothing fancy. No toggles to hit. No battery health screens to check out. Just wait 24-48 hours. After a couple of days and a few full charge cycles iOS 13 will calm down and you’ll see your battery life return to normal. 

But what if you don’t see an improvement?

What To Do When Patience Isn’t a Virtue

One of the more subtle reasons that our devices, iPhones especially, chew through more battery in the days after an iOS update is because we’re using them more. There are new features to check out (Apple Arcade), things to try (Apple Arcade), redesigned apps to familiarize ourselves with once again (oh, and Apple Arcade). The average iPhone user will use their device about 25% more often in these first couple of days. That’s enough to cause a noticeable shift in battery life.

But if, by the end of the week, your device is still struggling to make it through an entire day on one charge, you’ll need to take action.

The first thing to do is to check the Battery settings. Not only will it offer helpful tips (like lowering the Brightness to conserve battery life), it will list your apps by the amount of power they’re drawing and whether that’s happening as a result of direct usage or background activity.

If an app is drawing more power than usual (check the Last 10 Days list to see the trend over time), then it’s possible it’s not yet optimized for iOS 13 or has some other issue. Facebook is a frequent suspect here. Check to see if there’s an update available or on the way. If, however, it’s a system app like Photos, don’t worry about it. You should see that number drop precipitously by the end of the weekend.

If an app is using a lot of power in the background, however, go back to the main Settings menu and scroll down in the list till you find the app’s entry. Then disable Location services and Background Refresh for the app. Keep in mind that some apps will re-enable this setting on their own (or bug you to turn it back on the next time you open it up). You’ll want to keep an eye on this list. Again – Facebook.

Hopefully, you won’t have to resort to going on a scavenger hunt for misbehaving apps. Just keep your charging cable handy (or grab a Qi-enabled portable battery pack). In most cases, you’ll see your device’s battery life pop back up to normal and you can get back to doing what you do best.

Draining it to zero by completing just “one more level” of Grindstone.

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