This iPhone setting will significantly improve your smartphone's battery life — prevent power-hungry apps without losing access to notifications

iPhone 15 Plus review
(Image credit: Future)

With our hectic daily lives, commutes, and unhealthy obsessions with doom scrolling, one of the most important aspects of any iPhone is its battery life. Whether you own the best iPhone on the market, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, or an older model like the iPhone 13, there’s always a need for more battery life. 

While those who need extra battery life are recommended to purchase one of the best portable battery packs for iPhone, there’s also a simple iPhone setting that can make a huge difference to your smartphone’s runtime. Here’s how you can significantly improve your iPhone’s battery life by preventing power-hungry apps from constantly refreshing in the background.

How to disable Background App Refresh

The feature I’m talking about is called Background App Refresh which is enabled on iOS 17 by default and lets all of your favorite apps refresh while not in use. This allows you to open up Instagram and keep scrolling from where you left off or open Mail and not need to refresh your Inbox. That said, regardless of whether Background App Refresh is on or not, notifications still work as you’d expect and you’ll still benefit from the iPhone’s multitasking capabilities meaning switching between apps is as consistent as ever.

Background App Refresh

(Image credit: Future / Apple)
  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap General, then Background App Refresh
  3. Tap Background App Refresh, then Off

If you want to use Background App Refresh when at home and close to a charger then you can select Wi-Fi instead of Wi-Fi & Mobile Data or Off. This means that your iPhone will still use Background App Refresh when connected to Wi-Fi but will not use the feature when out and about on 4G or 5G. I think this option is the best of both worlds as it allows your iPhone to preserve some battery when you most need it but also lets you use your device to its full potential when at home or in a café.

Manage Background App Refresh for certain apps

Another way to benefit from Background App Refresh’s battery improvements without limiting some of your most used apps is by toggling the feature depending on the app. Simply head back to the Background App Refresh menu and toggle off the apps you don’t want refreshing behind the scenes. This is a fantastic option if you have a lot of unnecessary apps on your iPhone or apps you may only use once every few weeks — I advise going through the full list of applications and only keeping Background App Refresh for the software you use consistently.

Turn off this setting to instantly improve your iPhone’s battery life

As someone who has disabled Background App Refresh in the past to improve battery life on my iPhone 14 Pro which had power drain issues, this feature is a godsend. The best part about disabling Background App Refresh, whether that’s partly or fully, is that I don’t think most people will notice any difference in the behavior of their device, but will see extended battery life. I recommend keeping Background App Refresh enabled for your most important apps and turning it off for social media. Apps like Facebook and TikTok tend to run consistently in the background, and quite honestly you’ll be shocked at how much battery life that drains.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.