How Long Do iPhone & iPod Batteries Last?

Young girl using multimeter on a battery

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Your iPhone isn't much good if the battery doesn't work. But there's more to having a healthy iPhone battery than just keeping it charged. You also have to think about how many years the battery will last before it loses the ability to hold as much charge as it did when it was new. 

Apple doesn't provide a projected lifespan for the batteries in iPhones and iPods. It really can't. That's because how long an iPhone battery lasts is heavily influenced by how you use your device and charges its battery.

The Difference Between Battery Life and Battery Lifespan

When thinking about how long your device's battery will last, it's important to understand two concept that sound similar but are actually pretty different: battery life and battery lifespan.

  • Battery Life is how long you can use your device before the battery needs to be recharged. This is usually measured in hours or days.
  • Battery Lifespan is the amount of time your battery is usable before it stops being able to hold enough charge to power your device. This is usually measured in years.

Understanding iPhone Battery Charge Cycles

It's easiest to say that battery lifespan is measured in years, because that's true for almost everyone. But technically it's not 100% accurate.

To an iPhone owner, the months and years using their device's battery are what matters, but battery lifespan is actually determined by something called a charge cycle (there's more on charge cycles at Wikipedia, if you want to dig deep). Charge cycles aren't measured by periods of time. Instead, they're measured by how you use the battery.

A charge cycle is defined as the use of 100% of the battery's capacity. What makes charge cycles complex, though, is that 100% use doesn't have to come all at once. For example, if you run your iPhone down to 50% battery today, and then 25% tomorrow, and then 25% the day after that, that's one charge cycle because it adds up to 100%. 

Charge cycles aren't affected by recharging the battery either. In our earlier example, we could use 50% on day one, completely recharge the battery overnight, use 25% on day two, completely recharge the battery again, and use 25% on day three. That's still one charge cycle.

How Long iPhone and iPod Batteries Last

Apple says that the batteries in its devices will maintain up to 80% of their original charge capacity through a "high number" of battery charge cycles. That means that the amount of power a battery can hold will decline over time, but will stay relatively high for quite a while.

The company doesn't provide an exact number, probably because it has so many different devices and batteries, and there are so many use factors involved in battery life. 

That said, Apple's website used to list 400 battery charge cycles as the lifespan of an iPod battery. It has since removed that figure. Whether that's still true is hard to say, but it's a useful rule of thumb to keep in mind. That was for older iPods, with different batteries. That's probably not a reflection of how long an iPhone battery lasts in modern phones. It's safe to expect that they last longer.

If your battery is starting to die, you may be wondering if you should replace it. We've got the answer in Is iPhone or iPod Battery Replacement Worth It?

Tips to Improve iPhone & iPod Battery Lifespan

If you want to get the longest lifespan out of your battery, Apple recommends you do a handful of things:

  • Always run the latest version of your device's operating system. New OSes offer better power- and battery-management features. For instance, iOS 13 has some smart-charging features that will keep your battery functioning better for longer.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures. Try to avoid letting your device get hotter than 95 F (35 degrees C), or colder than 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). Extreme temperatures can damage the battery.
  • Watch out for cases. Some cases can cause devices to get too hot when they charge. If your case has that issue, remove it when charging your device.
  • For long-term storage, use a half charged battery. If you're going to store your device for a long time, charge the battery halfway and then turn it off. Every six months, charge it back to 50% and then turn it off again.

Need to squeeze just a few hours of extra use out of your iPhone battery before recharging? Try Low Power Mode.

How to Improve iPhone, iPad, and iPod Battery Life

In addition to extending your battery's lifespan, most people want to know how to get the longest use out of a single charge, too. Here are some tips.

For iPhone users, check out 30 Tips to Extend iPhone Battery Life. For iPad users, check out The 17 Best Tips to Get More iPad Battery Life.

For iPod users, Apple suggests the following:

  1. Make sure you're running the latest operating system for your device.

  2. Always use the Hold switch to lock the device when it's not in use.

  3. Don't use the EQ setting for music (select Flat to turn off the EQ).

  4. Don't use the screen's backlight except when needed.

Think you can quit apps you're not using and save battery life that way? Nope! Find out why in Why You Can't Quit iPhone Apps to Improve Battery Life.

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