The Battery-Saving iPhone Trick We've All Been Doing Wrong

Photo: Courtesy Apple.
You’ve been there: Your iPhone starts acting sluggish, so you double-tap the home button and start swiping up to close out apps running in the background. You may have thought that this helps improve battery life and free up memory, but that’s not the case.

Here's how that multitasking screen actually works: It's a screenshot of each app you’ve recently used. You’ve basically hit pause on them until the next time you open the apps up. Think of it like a bunch of boardgames you started playing, then placed on a shelf. They’re waiting for you to pick them up again, at which point gameplay will resume, but until then, they’re just being neatly stored.

To keep this analogy going: When you swipe an app closed from the multitasking screen, you’re putting the game away back into its box. Thus, if you swipe closed every app you've recently used, the next time you open it, you've got to take each boardgame out of the box and set it up all over again, so to speak. That can actually tax your phone more heavily than if you'd just left them in the multitasking pane (and in your phone's memory) in the first place.

The idea of the multitasking screen is that it's a convenient way to flip-flop between recently used apps. Being able to swipe things closed is mostly useful if an app has frozen or is acting funny — then you can reload it again so it functions properly.

So, what's the best way to get more battery life? Go to Settings, General, and tap on Background App Refresh. There, you can see what apps are actually refreshing in the background, accessing your data, and slowly sapping away at your battery life. Switch Background App Refresh off if you’re worried about your phone lasting through the evening. Or, you can go through and manually switch it off for individual apps you don’t need running in the background. Done and done.
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