Poor iPhone Battery Life in iOS 15? Don’t Panic, You Just Need to Wait

iPhone Low Battery Widget Credit: Camilo Concha / Shutterstock
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If you’ve been experiencing battery life problems after updating to iOS 15, you’re not alone, but there’s also no need to panic, as it’s all part of the normal upgrade process.

No, Apple is not engaging in so-called “planned obsolescence” by making your battery perform more poorly in iOS 15, nor are there any serious bugs in the new iOS update that are consuming more battery. After all, iOS 15 has been in beta since June, and public beta since July.

This means that not only has Apple had plenty of time to deal with performance problems like this, but it’s also had thousands of people running various versions of iOS 15, on a wide variety of different iPhone models and configurations. There aren’t going to be any major surprises here for Apple.

In fact, we heard about battery life complaints every year following new iOS and watchOS updates, both online and from our own circle of friends and family, and our advice is always the same: Give it a few days.

iOS 15 is chock-full of exciting new features, and to be fair, some of these may put more demands on your battery — when they’re actually being used, that is. However, there’s nothing here that should increase power consumption for normal everyday use of your iPhone.

What’s Draining My Battery in iOS 15?

The problem is that when you upgrade your iPhone to a new major iOS version like iOS 15, the update isn’t finished just because your iPhone has rebooted and is ready to go. There’s still a lot of stuff that goes on in the background, including:

  1. Recalibrating the Battery: Apple improves power management and battery health monitoring with every major iOS update, and that almost always requires that the operating system recalibrate the battery. This can impact battery life, but it’s more likely to simply give you an incorrect reading on the battery until it’s finished doing its thing. Unfortunately, since iOS will shut down your iPhone based on the battery level that’s reported to it, the net result is shorter battery life until it figures out where the true bottom end of your battery is. This process can sometimes take 2-3 days.
  2. Spotlight Indexing: iOS 15 specifically makes some big improvements to Spotlight search, bringing rich results and pulling significantly more information from apps like Photos and Messages than before. To make this happen quickly, iOS 15 has to pre-index more of your content. This happens in the background when you’re not actively using your iPhone, but of course, it’s going to take more power as your iPhone isn’t sitting quite as idle as it normally would be.
  3. Photo Curation: Much like Spotlight indexing, Apple “curates” your photo library to catalogue your objects and faces so that you can search for specific things, such as “dogs” or “boats” or even your kids. This has been going on since iOS 10, but iOS 15 fine-tunes this search and adds several new features which will require additional curation. For instance, pet memories have been improved so that iOS 15 can now recognize your pooch specifically, rather than just including everything that looks like a dog. There are also more types of photo Memories to scan for, plus the new Visual Look Up feature that provides additional details on recognized objects like plants, art, landmarks, and even breeds of animals.

Those are just a few of the things that could be going on in the background, but these optimization and indexing processes shouldn’t take more than a few days. To save battery life, some also only run when your iPhone is actually plugged into power, but this will still slow down your recharge times, particularly if you’re not using a fast-charging adapter.

Note that this also doesn’t just affect upgrading your current device to iOS 15. Even if you’ve just bought a new iPhone 13, it can take a few days for your battery life to stabilize.

Some of that is just going through a normal sort of “break-in” period to calibrate the battery meter, but if you transfer your data from your old iPhone to your shiny new iPhone 13, it will still need to go through the same indexing and curation steps described above.

In fact, transferring data to a new iPhone actually requires more work, since not all the indexes get transferred over. Apple prefers to recreate these from scratch to improve overall efficiency and avoid problems.

All of this having been said, if you’re still having battery life problems with iOS 15 after a week or two, then you may actually have encountered a bug, but that’s not necessarily in iOS 15 itself. With every new iOS release comes dozens of app updates, as developers get their new apps ready to take advantage of the new features, and some of these can cause a hit on your iPhone battery, especially if they’re apps you regularly use.

In fact, developers are often in a big hurry to get their new apps out on day one of a new iOS release, which means that they may not have been tested as thoroughly. It’s not uncommon to see subsequent app updates appearing only a few days later to fix whatever problems have been discovered in the initial release of these apps, so it’s important to stay on top of updates to your favourite apps whenever a major new iOS release lands. Don’t just settle on the first round.

Check Your Battery Health

It’s also important to keep in mind that if you have an older iPhone, it may simply be time to either upgrade your device or at least get a battery replacement if you plan to hang onto it for a while longer.

In this case, the update to iOS 15 may just be enough to push your battery health over the edge, since both the update process itself and all the post-update housekeeping does take a larger toll on your battery than normal.

The good news is that it’s easy to check whether this is the case with a trip into your iPhone settings:

  1. Open the main Settings app on your iPhone,
  2. Scroll down and tap Battery.
  3. Tap Battery Health.
  4. Check the Maximum Capacity percentage.

The lower this number is, the less time your iPhone is going to last between charges. This is simply a matter of the way that rechargeable batteries work, and there’s not much you can do about it except to get a new battery — or a whole new iPhone.

As a rule, however, you won’t normally see a noticeable impact in your iPhone’s longevity until this number drops below 80 percent. Even at this point, however, you shouldn’t see a sudden drop; instead, you’ll simply experience shorter and shorter run times gradually as your battery continues to deteriorate over time.

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