How to control background refresh to save battery life and data on your iPhone and iPad

How to control background refresh on your iPhone and iPad

Background refresh is part of what allows any iOS 7 app for iPhone or iPad to appear to be multitasking all the time. The truth is, they're really multitasking "just in time" by updating in the background whenever they have the opportunity or right before they figure you'll be launching them. In spite of how efficient Apple has tried to make it, however, using background refresh will also use more power and consume more data. Luckily, if either your battery life or your data limit is running low you can turn off background refresh, either entirely or just for those apps you don't consider that important.

How to turn off background app refresh on iPhone or iPad

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad running iOS 7 or higher.
  2. Now tap on General.
  3. Choose Background App Refresh.
  4. Under this screen you can either choose to turn Background App Refresh completely Off using the master switch at the top, or you can fine tune exactly what apps can poll data and refresh themselves in the background using the individual toggles next to each app.

In my experience, apps like Facebook are huge battery drains with background app refresh turned on, so I've turned them off and left them off. If you've disabled background refresh for any of your apps let me know — which ones and why?

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to control background refresh to save battery life and data on your iPhone and iPad


I leave everything on all the time. I just counted 63 apps that are using background refresh on my 5s. I leave it all on. Location, background refresh, bluetooth, wifi, and on and on. Its the whole point of a smart phone and why they come with a charger. That being said, most days I never even plug it in until bed time and usually still have 10-30%.

Impossible on my 5s. The battery cannot make it through the day if used like that! But that is what I expected when I got it. I expected to be charging it plenty. This is a style over substance product, as all Apple gear is, so battery life was not on the top of the R&D list for this device. If it had been, they would have made the thing a couple of mm thicker.

I agree. I hate when I overhear someone telling a user to turn off features that limit the capabilities of the iPhone, background refresh, frequent locations, etc.; especially when the mention of "battery life" is not explained correctly. For most applications and users, I believe the iPhone can do a better job at managing background tasks.
What takes more battery (and time): 1) checking your "notification banner" using Apple engineering logic or,
2) unlock device, open each app, wait for refresh to complete and review new data (if there even is any), close each app (as they are still live), finally lock device.
"Lather, Rinse, Repeat"

That should be in an iDevice commercial, lol. :-)

Same Here But Quit Any App After I USe it Fro Multitasking Window , Also My battery is perfect 7 Hours Usage And 1 Day And 10 Hours StandBy..

I don't use any background refresh. If I need the info I open the app and it takes about 2 seconds to update the information no matter what it is. What's the point if it does effect battery negatively at all.

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I have every add on option possible turned off on my iphone 5, still charge it 3 times a day! From 5am-11pm is my day, then of course its plugged in all night. But i'll lose 30% by 7am, it's ridiculous!

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Please Note That Plugging Your Charger All Night Makes A Negative Effect On Your Battery Because When It Becames Full Charged The Charger Stop Working , and The Phone Starts Bleeding Battery To The Charger ( Tested W iPhone 5s )

Try To full Charge Your Battery Untill it reachs 100% And Plug it Out immediatly , And See How The Bettery Will Get better , But That Will Be After Three Battery Cycles If u know What I Mean ...

Great reminder Ally, totally forgot about this. I've been going through my phone everyday before work and killing every app to save juice. Hopefully this will alleviate that need :)

I went on a quest after iOS 7 was released to drive out battery drain on my iPhone 5 & iPad Mini. But like has been mentioned above these are 'smart devices' & the whole point it seems is to have information or apps at the ready when you need them. So I turned everything back on in Background App Refresh & even Diagnostics & Usage as well. I've no reason to fear Apple abusing the information they gather from my usage of these devices. They've proven as a company to be quite trustworthy. The solution for me was to keep a Lightning cable at home, 1 in the car, & 1 at work. Ive barely needed the cable in the car or at work & I'm making it through the day for the most part with 10-20% battery left at night when I plug in.

Now a major culprit of battery issues for me was push email. Since I use 5 email boxes daily turning that off made a significant difference in my battery life. That's the one I would recommend to anybody as a 1st step to solving battery life issues.

Great! But free up your iPhone memory and deleted some cache and junk files can also save battery life. I clean up my iPhone 5S with "CleanMyPhone" every month.

Again this is the delicate balancing act of saving battery life versus the usefullness of the device. I used to turn my screen as low as I could to save battery life. Then I realized that I was taking away the usefulness of my iPhone. What was the point of having the battery last long if all it did was sit in my pocket. So now I just set everything to suite my workflow and if it means charging while I'm at my desk, hey that's what the charging cables are for right. In my case I don't really need app refresh so I have it on for the apps that make the most sense to me Dropbox, Find Friends, Fitbit, Podcasts and WhatsApp. The last one only an experiment right now. These are the apps that I want updating in the background when the info is available because when I launch them I want to have the most up to date info.

I've got background updating switched on for everything but I've never seen anything update in the background. When I launch an app it always has the old data and then takes a second or two to update as I watch. I thought the idea was that the new data would be there and ready just in time but it never is. Am I missing something?

Its great feature and i use it personally for apps like weather. I have not yet seen any other apps using this feature as efficiently as weather apps. Even twitter doesn't use this feature which it should have
PocketApp also uses this feature in very limited way but its nice to see your reading list being updated whenever your bring the app on front

Other thing instead of turning this feature off user always have option to swipe the app away and that way the app will never do background app refresh

Also iMore uses this feature :).

Few things Apple could have do it better is let layman users know that the app is already refreshed for them in someway. I think it takes time for us to get used to with this since first thing that we all do is pull-down-to-refresh action.

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Thanks for your tip on swiping away apps. On my new iPad Air, I always make it a point to swipe away all apps before I lock the device. Does this save battery because no more background refresh apps even if I did not reset anything in Settings?
So far, my 2 month old iPad Air's battery life is impressive. No recharge needed for days, sometimes even 1 week. But I use it only around 2 or 3 hours a day.

"I leave everything on all the time. I just counted 63 apps that are using background refresh on my 5s. I leave it all on. Location, background refresh, bluetooth, wifi, and on and on. Its the whole point of a smart phone and why they come with a charger. That being said, most days I never even plug it in until bed time and usually still have 10-30%."

You have 63 apps running a background app refresh and you have 10-30% left at days end?? I have 3 (60 less than you!!) running and I get maybe 7-8 hours if I don't make or receive many calls. You must have a special Iphone or be an Apple employee. There's simply no way running 63 background apps will give you a full day of battery. It's an impossibility. Since the latest update, I've turned all of my background refresh off. This is an Apple problem. I carry a Galaxy as well and it's background refresh doesn't come close to draining the battery the way my Iphone does. The Galaxy typically has 40-60% of it's battery life left after a 12 hour day of busy activity. I prefer the iphone's feel, look and size to the Galaxy, and I'm not even a fan of the Galaxy (it's a work phone), but Apple can't even get in the same neighborhood as the Galaxy when it comes to battery drain. Apple needs to get this straight. It's a legit threat to the Iphone's place in the smartphone market.

I honestly think it's some kind of quality control issue with apple. I have used apples my whole life, my first computer was a Macintosh 430cd when I was in 4th grade, and I believe them to be awesome products, but something is definitely wrong when it comes to the batteries of modern apple products. I have seen people with iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, etc that hold charge amazingly and others that seem to barely hold a charge at all. I have also seen and owned apple products that were once great in the battery life department, then started to deteriorate over time. When my wife and I got new iPhones mine would stay charged all day, and usually until morning if I forgot to charge itand hers would barely make it to bed time, and our phone usage was very comparable, although my battery life is not that good anymore unfortunately, and hers now usually needs to be charged halfway through the day.

I have almost all of my BAR-enabled apps turned off. While its a nice feature, i realized there's really no reason for some of the apps to even have access. Like, why does Buzzfeed always need to be up-to-the-minute?? And i'm not really interested in Foursquare popping up and telling me things; if i wanna know a cool place to go i'll open the app.

I don't have a problem with battery my problem is data consumption. On android, with same activity every day 1.5gb/month was enough but with iPhone 6 in 5-7 days 1 gb of data is gone. So I keep background data refresh closed.

Not to be all OT, but did you purposely model your profile photo after Carole King's "Tapestry" album cover? Beautiful! Oh, and thanks for the tutorial on app refresh - came in handy when I couldn't figure out why my battery was draining so fast!