Battery saving tips for iPhone 3G users

Is the battery life of your new iPhone 3G disappointing you? Try these three tips to increase it’s daily usage before having to recharge. I went from getting about a days worth of moderate usage to two days easily only doing the first two tips – the third is for when you need to squeeze a little extra juice out while away from a wall outlet or USB port.
Save your 3G battery
1. Turn off PUSH

Turning off PUSH support will go a long way to improving battery life.

Decide how often you really need to check for email (I can live with every 30 minutes) and set it to Fetch accordingly.

You just have to launch the Mail application and it will check for email anyways if that time frame isn’t good enough but at least it won’t be checking in the background all the time, slowly killing the battery.

You’ll find this setting in the Settings menu under ‘Fetch New Data’.

2. Turn off Location Services
Save your 3G battery
Also known as ‘the GPS’ setting on the iPhone, it’s turned on by default. Turning it off is probably the single most battery saving thing you can do short of not using your iPhone.

This doesn’t mean that Google Maps will stop working. It just means that when off, Location Services isn’t powering the GPS and looking for a location. If you launch Google Maps or any other location aware application, the iPhone will turn on Location Services.

Keep in mind, once turned on by one of these apps, it won’t turn back off by itself when the app is closed so you may have to keep turning this off.

This setting is located in the Settings/General area.

Save your 3G battery
3. Turn off 3G
Desperate to keep that phone alive a little longer? Simply switch off your 3G to gain a few more precious minutes of juice. Of course, surfing will be slower since you’ll be using the Edge network instead, but this tip is really meant if you need to get a few more minutes of life for a voice call before the iPhone shuts down.

Depending on where you live/work, this may simply be a better option anyways if your 3G reception is spotty.

You’ll find this option under the Settings/General/Network option.


  1. Re: #3:

    Really? Because it’s likely an apples-to-oranges comparison but I can easily get two days out of a charge on my Treo (sometimes three) here where there’s only Edge, but when I’m in a 3G zone I need to plug it in after six hours.

  2. Good suggestions, especially with turning off Location Services. Does having 3G on impact battery life when in standby? I’m guessing not and that it only has a bearing when accessing data or during talk times where I’m using 3G in a practical manner.

  3. John says:

    As I mentioned in the post, turning off 3G will make a difference in battery life at the expense of browsing speed and call quality.

    I’d only turn it off if you are either already below 20% battery and need it to last long enough to get home/back to a charger/etc or if you’re in a crappy non-3G area.

    If you’re in a bad/no signal area for 3G, the 3G in your phone will constantly look for a 3G signal…even in standby which is really ‘screen off’ mode since it’s also used for the phone and not strictly data purposes. Similar rules apply for wifi being turned off although it will only search for an access point when awake. With my 1st gen iPhone, I couldn’t notice an appreciable loss of battery by turning wifi off vs leaving it on….it only seemed to matter when you used it. Because of the 6gb data plan, for now at least, I’ve turned off wifi completely and only use it in poor reception areas where I know there is a hotspot – like in parts of my house.

  4. Dale Mugford says:

    Good tips John- there’s also reducing screen brightness and reducing the auto-lock time (the lowest, 1 min is annoying for me, but I can live with 2).

    When at the cottage this past week, I lived with location services on and push & 3G off (the former not needed, the latter not available) and got very, very good life out of the phone, charging every couple days.

  5. Alex says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  6. Rob Hyndman says:

    Do you guys have a sense of how intensive WiFi is re battery use?

  7. John says:

    Rob: I actually haven’t used wifi that much at all since getting the virtually unlimited 3G data plan so I can’t speak to the usage. I actually turned wifi off all together.

    I know with the 2G iPhone, you could burn through the battery fairly quickly if you were surfing on wifi but it was still a couple of hours.

  8. I came up with some more tips on how to solve the iPhone 3G energy crisis.

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