6 Easy Tips to Help Extend the Battery Life of iPad Air & Retina iPad Mini

Nov 12, 2013 - 5 Comments

Extend the battery life of iPad Air

The iPad Air has a great battery life which is said to last up to 10 hours of continuous use, but like many other devices that are running iOS 7, the battery life of the device can be maximized by adjusting a few settings accordingly. Some of these tricks will reduce eye candy and special effects throughout iOS, but if you’re more concerned about squeezing out the maximum battery life of a device rather than blinding light, zips, zooms, and background updates, you’ll find the trade-offs to be well worth it.

Of course these tips will apply to other iPad devices as well, including the prior generation iPads, iPad Mini, and Retina iPad Mini if you happened to get your hands on one.

1: Keep Display Brightness Low

The large display on the iPad requires a lot of power to backlight, so reducing the brightness of that display can help significantly when aiming to prolong or preserve battery life. Fortunately this is really easy to adjust now with iOS’s new Control Center feature:

  • Swipe up fro the bottom of the iPad to summon Control Center, slide the display brightness setting to as low as usable for maximum battery life

Adjust brightness in Control Center for iPad

For nearly everyone, controlling display brightness and managing brightness levels will have the single most significant impact on iPad Air battery life (or any iPad for that matter). If you do nothing else, focus on adjusting the display brightness. For indoors I typically aim for 25%, and reading in dim light going for around 10%-15% can be just fine. Of course if you’re using the iPad Air in direct sunlight you’ll need to have it brighter, just be aware that 100% brightness is going to lead to rapid draining.

2: Disable Background App Refresh

Background App Refresh causes apps to update even when they’re not in use. But the iPad (and other iOS devices) are primarily used for a single app at a time, so who cares if an app is updating in the background or not? If you care about battery life, you’ll want to disable this feature:

  • Settings > General > Background App Refresh > OFF

Note that even the settings for this one says “Turning off apps may help preserve battery life” – just turn the whole thing off. If you don’t care about battery life, well you can leave it on, but this article is written for those who do. Many users also notice setting this feature off will boost speed a bit, though it’s much less noticeable on the newest devices with beefier processing capacities.

3: Disable Automatic App Updates

Automatic app updates causes your applications to update themselves automatically when a new version is available on the App Store. Fancy feature, but like anything else that needlessly runs in the background, it can unnecessarily use system resources and impact battery life. Turn it off:

  • Settings > iTunes & App Store > Automatic Downloads > Updates > OFF

Yes, you’ll have to manually update your apps from the App Store like some kind of technological dinosaur that we all were pre-iOS 7, but your iPad Air battery life should thank you.

4: Lose the Motion & Zoom Transitions

The eye pleasing zooming and motion effects sure look fancy, but like any other eye candy centric feature, it requires resources to use. Thus, turning off the zoom and replacing it with fading transitions can have an impact on battery life, plus it makes the iPad feel faster:

  • Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion > ON

The fading transition effects are still attractive, this is not much of a loss. Note that turning on Motion Reduction also disables the parallax effect, which is the interesting effect of the icons and background moving around as the device itself is physically moved.

5: Ditch the Fancy Moving Wallpapers

Just like the zoom transitions require system resources to fly around on a 10″ display, Dynamic wallpaper does too. Does it serve a purpose beyond eye candy? Not really, so if you’re concerned about battery life, don’t use the (admittedly fancy) dynamic wallpapers:

  • Settings > Wallpaper & Brightness > Choose Wallpaper > Stills > anything that isn’t Dynamic

Beyond batteries, picking the right wallpaper can also make a pretty big difference in the overall usability and appearance of iOS, aim for something without a lot of clashing colors for best results.

6: Turn Off Unnecessary Location Services

Location-based services are notoriously battery hungry because they have to periodically check your location for an event or notification to trigger. Turn off as many location services as possible for best results:

  • Settings > Privacy > Location Services > set anything unnecessary to OFF
  • Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations > OFF

This is particularly important for LTE enabled devices because location services will use the LTE band and GPS to attempt to locate the device. That can lead to unnecessary battery drain if you primarily use the iPad in a single location, like your couch.

If you use the iPad almost exclusively at home, consider turning off all location abilities except for apps like TV guides that use location just once, or for things like Siri and weather, which will only use the location when requested.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, Tips & Tricks

5 Comments

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  1. Michael says:

    turning down the screen brightness is definitely the number one saver. I must also say the iPad air (and all iPads) seems really optimized for video , playing video uses the least amount of battery, playing a game sees a great drain. On a recent flight 10hrs of video (low screen brightness) only used 20% of battery

  2. Katbel says:

    I have an iPad Air cellular but I don’t have this features available, why?
    It is on my iPhone.

  3. Maciac says:

    If you turn it off completely and go outside, you will get days or even weeks of use on a single charge.

  4. Dan says:

    Another big battery saver, especially for a cellular model, is Airplane mode. Even just turning off wifi makes a big difference to battery life. But for those on a cellular model, use Airplane mode as your default state. It has the added bonus of not having your reading interrupted by constant notifications.

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