How Long Do iPhone & iPod Batteries Last?

Young girl using multimeter on a battery

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Your iPhone or iPod isn't much good if the battery doesn't work. But there's more to a healthy battery than just keeping it charged. You also have to be concerned with how long the battery will last before it starts to not be able 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 the lifespan of a battery is heavily influenced by how the owner of the device uses and charges the battery.

Understanding Battery Life vs. Battery Lifespan

When thinking about how long your device's battery will last, it's important to understand two similar sounding, but ultimately pretty different, concepts: battery life and battery lifespan.

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

Understanding Battery Charge Cycles

While it's easiest to say that battery lifespan is measured in years, that's not technically true. From the standpoint of a user, months and years are what matters, but battery lifespan is actually determined by something called a charge cycle (more on charge cycles from Wikipedia, if you want to dig deep), which doesn't necessarily have a period of time associated with it.

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 instance, if you run your iPhone down to 50% 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 batter 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 — and that's still one charge cycle.

iPhone and iPod Battery Lifespan

Apple says that the batteries in its devices will maintain up to 80% of their charge capacity through a "high number" of battery charge cycles. 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 but 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.

Tips to Improve Battery Lifespan

To get the longest lifespan out of your battery, Apple recommends a handful of things:

  • Always run the latest version of your device's operating system. New OSes offer better power- and battery-management features.
  • 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) as that 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.

Tips 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 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.