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Uninstalling Facebook for iPhone is pretty great for battery life

Facebook is an amazing social network for keeping in touch with friends and family around the world. Facebook is also a brutal app that consistently impacts battery life on my iPhone. So, like my colleague Russel Holly did on Android, I uninstalled the app for a while to see if going mobile web-only would work.

Some background on background: Whenever I check the battery usage stats on my iPhone or iPad, without fail, Facebook is the one and only app that's been more active offscreen than on. Often double, triple, or more. That's... appalling.

Facebook.app showing over double the time in background on iPhone, and a grotesquely, over quadruple the time in background on iPad Pro.

Since Facebook started life as a website, though, and that's still how everyone accesses it on traditional computers, accessing it that way on mobile has always been a possibility. Due to the resource limitations of phones, including display size, apps have proven to be a better for interaction. If Facebook isn't respecting those resource limitations, however, it makes the app much less appealing.

Flying Facebook.app free!

So, on a recent trip to the U.S., where roaming on AT&T's network puts my iPhone radio into battery-draining overdrive anyway, I decided to see if I could stick to using m.facebook.com in hopes of lightening the rest of the load. And in large part, it worked. I was able to check notifications and do many of the things I normally do through the Facebook app.

It wasn't outrageously great, of course. The algorithm-derived timeline on the mobile site was incredibly different than the one shown in the app. Much of the stuff I'd suppressed or prioritized over the last year seemed not to be taken into account and I got much more of a firehose feel than I was used to. For example, I immediately saw my colleague, Serenity Caldwell's post in the app's timeline (above) but it was nowhere to be found in the mobile website's timeline (below).

The interface for everything from navigation to image upload is nowhere near as good either, which stands to reason given the limitations of the web. I often push images from Instagram anyway, so it wasn't a huge concern. I didn't seen any way to add a Live Photo that would stay live, but that makes sense given the limitations of web uploads.

Most importantly, though, battery life did seem much better. To be clear, this wasn't a scientific test and things like radio activity and screen-on time still play a far larger role in power consumption than even Facebook's egregious background processes. There's also a possible placebo effect and, since using the mobile site isn't as convenient as using the mobile app, I didn't use Facebook as often. Feel free to file that as pro or con.

Compromising for convenience

By the end of the trip I'd reinstalled the Facebook app to try and find a restaurant I'd checked into a couple of years ago, alas to no avail. From then on I tried a more elaborate strategy — I used the Facebook app for things like check-ins but then I killed it and went back to the mobile website for more frequent activities like keeping up with notifications.

I don't have notifications enabled in the Facebook app anyway — unlike Messenger, which is a separate app now, I've never found anything else to be urgent enough to warrant it — so manually looking for them on the web makes no real difference to me. If I'm waiting in line or otherwise bored, I check.

Your use cases, of course, may well vary.

Bottom (battery) line

In a perfect world the Facebook app, like every other app on my iPhone, simply wouldn't behave as badly in the background. I say 'simply', but Facebook is approaching iTunes levels of 'impossible jobs' to be done in an app, given how many features it tries to provide its billion plus members.

The company's iOS engineers are some of the best in the business, so I'm hopeful they can become as aggressive with power management as they are with interactions, and get that off-screen time literally off my screen.

Until then, though, I'll likely still use the Facebook website more than I want to on mobile. Which sucks, because I shouldn't have to choose between Facebook's app and a working phone.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

62 Comments
  • It absolutely gobble's storage space too. Mine get's upwards of 800mbs over time. The original install is under 100mbs. Instagram does it too but not nearly as bad. But facebook i have to uninstall it every month and reinstall it to get my space back. As for battery life Mercury Browser is what kills mine. It And if you play videos in it my it just inhales my battery. It used to be fine and sometimes it's not a big drain but it's alway stop of my battery usage even on days i barely use it.
  • To delete your cache, just sign out of the App, then sign back in. It'll go back down.
  • Or just sign out of the app, then delete it, and never sign back in again. No unoptimized horrible cache usage anymore
  • Fortunately, I ran away from facebook years ago! I got no fb account.
  • Oh you do! That little sob never goes away, only disabled Sent from the iMore App
  • You can get it removed if you contact Facebook support
  • They told me they cant and it will just sit deactivated until i log in.. If ever. Sent from the iMore App
  • Um, you're wrong my friend. I've done this and so have my two kids, it gets deleted in two weeks. https://www.facebook.com/help/224562897555674 f you don't think you'll use Facebook again, you can request to have your account permanently deleted. Please keep in mind that you won't be able to reactivate your account or retrieve anything you've added. Before you do this, you may want to download a copy of your info from Facebook. Then, if you'd like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, log into your account and let us know. When you delete your account, people won't be able to see it on Facebook. It may take up to 90 days to delete all of the things you've posted, like your photos, status updates or other data stored in backup systems. While we are deleting this information, it is inaccessible to other people using Facebook. Some of the things you do on Facebook aren’t stored in your account. For example, a friend may still have messages from you even after you delete your account. That information remains after you delete your account.
  • I was pondering this last night. Great article Rene and I'm glad iMore always has the best info.
  • The Guardian newspaper published a very similar story today at 10:00 GMT, 5am in New York...
  • Rene mentioned that he followed a colleague on Android Central.
  • And ever has known this regardless of whatever OS is runs on. The FB app is horrible Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • What about Facebooks "Paper" app? I love it way more the the "official" app, and am wondering if it has similar issues?
  • I haven't noticed the issue when I use the Paper app. But that app also doesn't handle "Most Recent" very well. But maybe that and the mobile site are the bandaid for the poor performance the primary app has! Also, the app was last updated in March of 2015, which doesn't bode well for it.
  • I do love the "Paper" app.
  • I just kill the app from the switcher every time I'm finished using it. Battery seems to be better since I started doing this. Or am I imagining it? Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes! I do this with most social apps now. Unless I am actively using it, I don't see any reason to keep it open these days.
  • We are still taking about the ios facebook app? Cause then it must be really bad programmed or you both have nothing than an placebo effect. Removing an app from The app switcher didn't stop any background processes, it only remove the already inactive app from the internal cache. And ios manage this cache mutch better then any human can. Removing an app from the switcher make only sense when the app didn't react anymore.
  • No, I dislike the Facebook company itself. I hate how they treat people. And their user support is laughable. The app has it's issues as well. I find myself swiping it out of multitasking when not in use. I've been using Friendly+ a good bit. It's a little different, but not bad at all.
  • Deleting facebook is also a lot better for your life :) Sent from the iMore App
  • Games are my downfall but that is a giving. Never had an issue with FB but I am not on it all day long either. Having the watch helps a lot too since I am not turning my phone on for ever little notification.
  • I specifically have background app refresh turned off for Facebook. And I (almost) always quit the app after I use it, and I was still seeing larger-that it should-be background battery drain.
    I've never allowed Facebook to access my location.
    I've since turned off all Facebook notifications and disabled cellular usage; I wasn't getting hammered, I just want Facebook to be a place to go for a few minutes during free time, and not the constant time (and resource) vampire it has been.
    These settings, and a little self discipline, have had the desired results, yet maintain the functionality and OS integration of the installed app that the website cannot offer. Sent from the iMore App
  • I deleted the app the day they required messenger for checking your FB inbox. The mobile website works just fine, and I can get messages without installing a second stupid app.
  • The web version also has a double bonus, you can check your messages without installing their stupid app. So you cane delete both.
  • Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp ... all are battery hogs
  • I left Facebook 2 years ago and never looked back.
  • Why not just turn off background app refresh and location settings?
  • I have done that but still have background activity with the app.
  • I uninstalled the fb app and been using the mobile website since I read that article from Russel. I like it but I don't love it. It improved my battery life, tho. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Glad I never joined that mess of a social-media that is Facebook. Things like this only reaffirms my stance about the whole company and why I was right in never signing up for an account. Never saw the appeal, never will.
  • I just looked at my battery percentage usage and Fallout PipBoy takes up 70% of my battery usage over the past two weeks.......
  • Huh. I installed the FB app about two months ago because I got sick and tired of the web site constantly reloading while I was using it and losing my place. I had installed it reluctantly, because I've always had problems with it in the past. But not now. It has not negatively effected my battery use, other than when I am using it. It does not appear to be causing me any storage issues either. I also kill it when not in use, just like almost everything else I use on my iPhone. The only apps I intentionally leave running in the background are the Pebble Time and Songview apps (Songview so I can get the current album art to the Pebble when listening to music).
  • "... I also kill it when not in use, just like almost everything else I use on my iPhone. ..." Likewise.
  • In a slightly related note, I was getting notifications from YouTube in the handoff thing in multitasking. It said good morning, <username>,and then good evening, <username>. All notifications were turned off, background app activity was turned off, but the app had been opened that day. Can you look into this? It was super annoying and I uninstalled the apps from my iOS devices.
  • Like many other who have posted here, I too deleted my facebook account years ago. I totally cannot believe what people willingly post about their lives at facebook.
  • I am curious if the Paper app has the same useage/impact on battery, as I dumped the full app when Paper came out.
  • Paper is much better on battery life than it's sibling app. I have used both and while Paper is lagging behind the proper app in terms of features, it is my go-to app when I peruse and update FB.
  • Facebook for all their viewers and money are behind on things. There's no iPad specific version of the Instagram app, it doesn't support multiple users. The Facebook app has always been a battery hog. The implementation of Live Photos is anemic at best.However until they have a real competitor they won't need to do anything.
    It doesn't bother me though. When I used to JB. I would turn the screen brightness as low as was bearable. I would turn my wifi and 3G on and off when not in use. Then one day I just thought "what the **** am I doing?". I bought my iPhone to use and enjoy not to bear through in order to maximize battery. Now I just charge it whenever it's running low. But every user is different. I have a charger at work and my phone is for personal use. Things are different for people who depend on the phone, use it for work, are on the road or away from a charger for long periods of time, etc. Sent from the iMore App
  • It is a pretty well behaved app, in my experience. However, I disable the notification and background activity part of it in iOS setting. Try it. You don't have to delete the app and it works better than Facebook in Safari.
  • Happily I am Facebook free for almost a year and a half. However, my wife uses it regularly and I haven't been able to convince her to stay off the app and use the website. I think the other thing that should be addressed too is how much data it eats. I can't believe that iOS allows the app to run this much in the background. I would hope that iOS minimizes data traffic at while in the background at least.
  • Yes, I agree with you. With Facebook app installed, the iphone's battery life sucks. However, other apps are enjoyable comparatively. You can download one from the following link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photofunk/id1062811731?mt=8&at=10l3Vy
  • Your information is very helpful to me I waited for the latest info on this site, hopefully we can provide the latest information as interesting as this article
  • While I'd preferred Paper, it too has a little over a 1:1 foreground to background usage ratio. Because I'd turned off notifications after we lost the SB on Sunday, I've opted to uninstall it and use a Safari bookmark on my home screen to access the site instead!
  • I really dont know how people can waste so much time for such a useless app.
    Its a useless piece of junk.
  • Alarm for clock rings at un specified times not seat . Just one ring ?
  • I agree with you, deleting the app and using it from safari is the best choice for light-weight user. Btw snapchat also drainin battery in the background, deleting it would also improve battery life dramaticly but obviously it has no mobile browsing version :) Closing background app represh can be good asset for all of ur battery issues. Peace out. Sent from the iMore App
  • Maybe a follow-up article on using Facebook on the iPad Pro would be interesting. As the the Facebook app is still not optimized for the iPad Pro, the desktop version of the web page is a pretty good alternative.
  • For those deleting the app and using the web version, why not just turn off background refresh of the app? You're not going to get background refresh with the web version anyways. Settings > General > Background App Refresh > turn off
  • Unfortunately, that doesn't help. FB app uses shady techniques like playing silent audio to stay alive. Background refresh doesn't make any difference here.
  • I agree with everyone who has suggested turning off the background refresh. I regularly review my phones's background refresh settings (especially after installing new apps) and switch of all apps that I do not want running in the background. Does wonders for battery life.
  • i liked Facebook three years ago. now its 80% just adds and BS. if someone has problem with battery life just delete it.
  • What's happened with the app using devious tricks like playing silent audio to keep itself running in the background even when you try to disable it? Does killing the app stop this?
  • I removed Facebook after they removed access to private messages within the app and forced people to install the separate messenger app. No thanks, not missed and good riddance. The mobile site works fine for me. The difference has been my iPhone 6 lasting an extra day on standby.
  • Sharing photos to Facebook can be done through the share sheet in the photos.app too. That actually has been the easiest way to share photos for a long time.
  • I'm curious. I'm not necessarily as tech minded as you all are, but when I check my battery settings on my iPhone 6, and as an example when I look at the Google app itself, it shows it's used 9% over the last 24 hours. 10 minutes on screen, and 17 minutes background. However I have background refresh turned off. I've noticed this with a bunch of my apps. So if the background refresh is off, and as Apple used to claim that there's no need to shut down an app after use because it's only in standby mode when in the background and not really doing anything, why are these apps still using so much battery when I'm not using them?
  • Just checked my battery usage and I was shocked that the iMore app (audio) was the biggest offender with 46% of my battery usage followed by Instagram 17% Google +11% and YouTube 10% well I did listen to the iMore audio podcast this morning and I'm using a 5c, which wasn't exactly known for its stellar battery life. Sent from the iMore App
  • Between my iPhone chargers at home, office, and car, the hit to my battery has never been enough to warrant uninstalling what has become one of the central uses of my iPhone. I have a large extended family all over the world and, having lived in four countries now, friends all over the world too. Facebook has been a great way of keeping tabs on everyone and great for reaching out. It's also been useful in the softer side of business relationship management as LinkedIn can feel a bit too purpose-driven. Let's home that Facebook fixes their battery issues, but I'm nowhere near to giving them up over it.
  • I have never had a problem with the Facebook APP eating my battery on my iPhones or iPads. First when I'm finished using the APP I always sign out. I never stay signed in. Second under Setting I don't fill in the Facebook info. I always leave that blank. Reason is that it never signs you out. third I don't us Facebook Messenger. I found I can't sign out of it. Forth even though I don't stay signed into the Facebook APP I make sure that the "Background Refresh" for the APP is turned off. In fact "Background Refresh" is turned off for everything.
  • Stomping the life out of EVERYTHING Farcebook is the goal. Just like a smelly, virus-ridden rash, pile on the Calamine and smother it where it flops.... Brainwashing in it's most egregious state.
  • Noticed this drain in previous versions of IOS. Deleted Facebook App many months ago and I seem to get more done!
  • Am I the only one who's m.facebook.com (mobile Facebook site) will only show 3-4 posts at a time and then have the round circular loading wheel? Then load 3-4 more and then repeat? Over and over? It's a horrendous way to try and browse. If anyone knows of any way to fix this, please let me know!
  • I consigned the Facebook app to the trash over a year ago and have not looked back since.
    1. It consistently eats my storage.
    2. I'd get nonsense notifications : "Do you know x?", "Play this s@#t game."
    My life is much more peaceful occasionally checking in via the browser.