11 Simple Tips for Maximizing iPad Battery Life

Jun 18, 2013 - 1 Comment

The iPad already has very impressive battery life and regularly lasts all day, but who wouldn’t want to have their iPad last even longer? With a group of simple tips, you can extend an iPads battery life even further and get the absolute most out of your tablets battery for as long as possible. These tricks are the real deal, and we’ll focus on things that actually work. Let’s get started and maximize your iPad battery.

iPad battery life tips

1: Take Control of Screen Brightness

Tone the brightness down manually and do it often, because the iPad can be very aggressive with readjusting the screen brightness level, and the higher the brightness the faster the battery drains. The wonderful thing about the iPad is that, even without iOS 7, you can toggle the brightness settings much faster than on the iPhone… all you need to do is:

  • Double-tap the Home button and swipe to the left controls to access the brightness slider, slide it leftwards to reduce brightness

Adjust brightness on the iPad the easy way

For the best possible battery life, keep the brightness as low as it can possibly go. Just like when extending battery on an iPhone, this single tip makes the most difference of all, because the backlit display is one of the most significant drains to battery longevity.

In iOS 7 this is made even easier because you can access brightness controls from the Control Center screen.

2: Set a Low Brightness Level & Turn Off Auto-Adjust

Because the iPad is fairly aggressive with screen brightness, you can extend battery life even further by setting a reduced level (at 35% or so) and then turning off auto-brightness adjustments, which will prevent the iPad from taking the screen to super-bright levels which it is keen to do:

  • Go to Settings, then go to “Brightness & Wallpaper” and toggle “Auto-Brightness” to OFF

Turn off auto brightness adjustments on the iPad

Do note that turning off auto-brightness will have the opposite effect if you set the brightness level too high, because it will prevent the iPad from adjusting itself down when in dim light.

3: Be Aggressive with Turning Off the Screen

Not using the iPad? Hit that top power button to lock the screen and turn off the display. Just a quick tap is all that’s needed, because holding it for too long will turn the device off.

Tap the power button to turn the screen off

This helps for the same reason the screen brightness tip does, it prevents the battery-hungry screen from being active more than it needs to be.

4: Use Screen Auto-Lock

Take the above trick a step further and set Auto Lock to an aggressive setting, preferably 2 minutes:

  • Go to Settings, then go to General and “Auto Lock”
  • Set this to “2 Minutes” for best results

Auto lock the iPad

This basically means if your iPad is left alone for 2 minutes or longer, the screen will lock itself, which if you’re concerned about battery is what you want. This is all the more important if at some point you set the screen to never dim or auto-lock, which drains battery quite fast.

Speaking of screen locking, you do use a lock screen passcode, don’t you? No, it’s not going to save you any battery, but it will give you more privacy and peace of mind… taking this theme a bit further, consider disabling the simple pass codes and going with a more secure variation that uses the full keyboard for the passcode.

5: Turn Off Unnecessary Notifications & Lock Screen Alerts

Notifications come in whether you’re using the iPad or not, and the lock screen alerts will wake up the iPad screen to display whatever their message is. The more the screen turns on, the more the battery drains. Plus, Notifications and alerts create unneeded activity, which also can hit battery. Tons of apps want to do send out Notifications but few actually need to, so head into Settings and start turning them off:

  • Open Settings, then go to “Notifications” and scroll to “In Notification Center”
  • Tap individual apps you want to stop alerts for, and flip the “Notification Center” switch to OFF

Turn off app Notifications and alerts on the iPad

Think about your usage of the iPad when addressing Notifications and what apps can send them out, for many of us, it’s surprisingly few. Perhaps just Messages, FaceTime, and one or two others. Turn off the rest, especially for games and apps that nag often with annoying largely meaningless alerts.

6: Deny Location Usage & Turn Off Location Services

It’s kind of amazing how many apps want access to location data, and while on something like the iPhone that could make sense, on the iPad it’s much more rare. The iPad isn’t the iPhone, and realistically, it rarely needs your location to perform functions, thus you should be much more aggressive with denying Location requests. When an app asks for Locaiton data, think, does this really need my location to work? If the answer is probably not, choose “Don’t Allow”.

So what about existing apps that use location information, thereby draining battery when that information is requested? That’s when you dig into Location Services, and at the very least turn off almost every app individually, if not going all out and just switching the feature off completely:

  • Open Settings, go to “Privacy”, then go to “Location Services”
  • Toggle individual apps to OFF, or set all Location Services to OFF

Turn off Location Services for apps on the iPad

Do this for almost everything. The only apps I let use Location are ones that actually need your location, whether that’s maps related, things like Siri, PBS app and TV guides since they use your location to show you what’s on TV, but outside of particular varieties, little else needs it, and they will just drain battery to retrieve that information.

7: Turn On the Percentage Indicator

Ok, so this isn’t going to save any battery directly, but it does give you a much better idea of how fast things are draining and how much time you have left and it’s just a good thing to have enabled:

  • Open Settings, go to “General”, then “Usage” and flip “Battery Percentage” to ON

Battery percentage indicator

The percentage indicator is also a good way to easily measure the impact of certain apps usage, and if you see a percent or two tick away rather quickly when using a particular app, you can make a decision as to whether or not it’s necessary given your current battery needs.

8: Skip the App Store & Don’t Update Apps When Battery Life Matters

Of course you should use the App Store, and of course you should update your apps… except when you’re trying to really squeeze the most out of your iPad battery and make it last as long as humanly possible. This is because internet usage for downloading the screen shots, store screens, and downloading apps themselves uses more battery power, whether on wi-fi or cellular connections. Additionally, the action of updating and installing apps uses the iPad processor which also milks the battery a bit.

Basically, unless there’s an app that you really really want to download or update, just skip this process when in battery conservation mode, and leave the updates and store browsing until later when you care a bit less about the potential battery drain. This is obviously more of a usability tip, but it does make a difference.

9: Avoid the Heat

Heat is detrimental to all electronic devices and their batteries, and the iPad is no different. This is so easy to do, and it does make a difference. All you need to do is keep the iPad out of intense heat. That means don’t try to use it in direct sunlight on a 95 degree day, and don’t leave the iPad baking on the seat of a hot car while you shop for 10 hours at the Apple Store (lucky you). With it being summer, this is particularly true.

Keep the iPad out of intense heat

Not only will this make your battery last longer at the moment, but this actually will help to improve the longterm battery life of the iPad. Remember, intense heat = bad, whether its a Mac, iPad, iPhone, or anything else with a battery for that matter.

9: Quit & Kill Unnecessary Apps*

*Oh boy here we go, the dreaded quit app recommendation. This is usually the single most misreported ‘trick’ to improve battery life on any iOS devices… but guess what? It does work sometimes because some apps do drain battery life more than others. Typically these are the apps that are accessing Location data or are transferring things in the background. If you’ve been following along here you’ve probably already turned off a lot of Location usage for apps, but don’t feel bad about just quitting the apps that you know are using location data that you don’t need to use at the moment.

Want to go further? You can quit multiple apps at the same time by just tapping the close buttons simultaneously, using a little-known multitouch trick.

Quit multiple apps at the same time on the iPad

Your Genius Bar friends will hate you, but hey, quit all those unneeded apps.

10: Reboot the iPad Sometimes

Though the iPad can quite literally run for months on end without a reboot, it doesn’t hurt to restart the device every once in a while. This is all the more true when apps are misbehaving, freezing or crashing, or just acting weird in general, all of which can lead to excessive battery drain. Because the iPad is so fast to boot, this will only take a moment:

  • Hold the top Power button until the “Slide to Power Off” option appears on screen, then slide to power off
  • Hold the power button again until the iPad turns on

Easy. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to install iOS updates, and it has the side effect of halting and quitting all background apps if they were causing any issues.

iPad battery draining weirdly fast? Restore

This isn’t much of a direct battery life extension trick, but if your iPad is experiencing some unusual battery drain, set aside the time to backup the device to the computer, then restore the device with iTunes. It’s quite rare, but sometimes a preference or something within the iOS system software itself can go errant and lead to excess battery drain, and restoring the device almost always resolves the issue. If you do restore and still experience unusually short battery life, call Apple or visit an Apple Store.

Got any great battery tips for the iPad? Let us know @osxdaily on Twitter, on Facebook, hollar at us on Google Plus, or send us an email. Comments are disabled for the moment.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, Tips & Tricks

One Comment

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  1. Kelly says:

    Thanks for this. I’m wondering what the best charging regime is for maximising battery life in the long term – does it make a difference if I charge it every time it, say, goes below 70%, or wait until it completely runs out of battery before recharging? And if it has run out of battery, does it matter if I charge it to 20%, unplug and use it a bit, then charge some more, versus charging it fully before unplugging?

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