How to Fix Your iPad's Battery Life

Take these steps to extend the battery life on your iPad

iPad battery low

 iMrSquid / Getty Images

With each iPad release, one constant remains. The iPad is faster and the graphics are better every year, and yet the device still maintains an amazing 10 hours of battery life—whether you have an iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, or iPad Pro. However, for those of us who use our iPad throughout the day, it's still easy for it to run low on power. As an iPad ages, the expected battery life for each full charge becomes shorter, so older devices can have battery life problems. There are a few ways to fix your iPad's battery life that include ways to save on battery power. No matter which iPad you have, these tips work to extend its battery life.

The information in this article applies to iPads running iPadOS 13 or iOS 12 and earlier except as noted.

Fix an iPad's Battery Life by Saving Power

The number one way to get that full day out of your iPad's battery is to use it more efficiently. This has to do with flipping a few settings to ensure you aren't using more battery power than you need.

Reboot Your iPad

This isn't a setting, but powering off and on your iPad can solve problems. You shouldn't have to do it every day, but before you tweak a bunch of settings, try a reboot. Hold down the On/Off (Sleep/Wake) button at the top of the display until the screen asks you to slide a button to power down. After the iPad powers down, press the button again to power it back on.

Adjust the Brightness

The iPad has an auto-brightness feature that adjusts the iPad display based on the amount of light in the room, but this feature is not enough. Adjusting the overall brightness may be the best single thing you can do to eke out a little more from your battery. You adjust the brightness by opening the iPad's Settings, choosing Display & Brightness from the menu and moving the Brightness slider. The goal is to get it where the iPad display is comfortable for reading but not as bright as the default setting.

Display & Brightness settings on iPad

Turn Off Bluetooth

If you don't have any Bluetooth devices connected to the iPad, all the Bluetooth service is doing is wasting the iPad's battery life. If you aren't using any Bluetooth devices, turn off Bluetooth. A quick way to flip the switch for Bluetooth is to open the iPad Control Center by swiping down from the top right edge of the display (in iOS 12 and iPadOS 13) or up from the bottom (in iOS 7 through iOS 11) and then tapping the Bluetooth icon so it changes from blue (on) to white (off). The message Disconnecting Bluetooth Devices Until Tomorrow that appears above the Control Center serves as a reminder that you have to repeat this process daily.

iPad Control Panel showing Bluetooth icon

You can turn off Bluetooth permanently in Settings > Bluetooth.

Fetch Mail Less Often

By default, the iPad, iPad Pro, and iPad Mini check for new mail every 15 minutes. They also check for new mail every time we open the Mail app, so it is easy enough to push this back to 30 minutes or an hour. Simply go into Settings, choose Passwords & Accounts and tap Fetch New Data. Turn off the slider next to Push and change the default Fetch time to 30 minutes or longer time. There's even an option to only check for mail manually.

Fetch New Data settings in iPad

Turn off Background App Refresh

Background app refresh keeps your apps updated by refreshing them while the iPad is idle or while you are in another app. This uses battery life, so if you don't care whether the iPad refreshes your Facebook newsfeed and has it waiting for you, go into Settings > General > Background App Refresh. You can choose to turn off the service as a whole or turn off individual apps you don't need to update in the background.

Background App Refresh settings in iPad

Keep Up With iPad Updates

It's important to keep iOS updated with the latest patches from Apple. Not only can this help optimize battery life on the iPad, but it also makes sure you are getting the latest security fixes and patching any bugs that have popped up, which helps the iPad run smoother. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to see if an update is available for your iPad.

Software Update option in General settings on the iPad

Reduce Motion

Reducing motion features is a trick that saves a little battery life and makes the iPad seem slightly more responsive. The iPad's interface includes a number of animations such as windows zooming in and zooming out and the parallax effect on icons that make them seem to hover over the background image. You can turn off these interface effects by going to Settings > Accessibility > Motion > Reduce Motion (iPadOS 13) or Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion (iOS 12, iOS 11, and iOS 10).

Reduce Motion option in iPad Settings

Buy a Smart Case

A Smart Case can save battery life by putting the iPad into suspended mode when you close the flap. It may not seem like much, but if you aren't in the habit of hitting the On/Off (Sleep/Wake) button every time you are finished using the iPad, it can give you an extra few minutes at the end of the day.

How to Fix Your iPad Battery By Finding an Errant App

It is not just settings that can cause your iPad battery problems. While the apps that eat up the most power are typically the ones that you use the most, sometimes a little-used app can use more than its fair share. It's a good idea to check which apps are draining your iPad's battery.

Go to Settings > Battery. The top of the Battery screen shows a graph of battery level and activity. You should see the biggest battery level drops line up with when the iPad is active. If not, you may have an issue with an individual app.

The number of minutes the iPad was awake and active the previous day (or 10 days) is listed as Screen On time. Also shown is how much activity occurred in the background, labeled as Screen Off time. If the Screen Off time is large, something is happening in the background. The first thing to check are the settings for background activity.

Below the activity graphs is a list of battery usage by app. The number next to each app represents the proportion of battery used the previous day (or 10 days). If you see an app with a large percentage of battery usage that you rarely use, it may be the problem. Delete it or limit its background activity.

A screenshot of battery life usage on the iPad

How to Extend Your iPad's Battery Life

If nothing else helps, you can get a boost from outside your iPad. You may not be able to plug in your iPad throughout the day for an extra charge, but you can carry an external battery pack. These act similarly to a wall outlet except that they are portable.

Is It Time to Replace Your Battery?

For many people, low battery life signals a good time to upgrade to the latest and greatest iPad, but if your iPad is serving your needs, you may benefit from a battery replacement. Apple charges $99 to replace a battery on an out-of-warranty iPad in addition to a shipping fee if you aren't taking it into a store. There are also other options for battery replacement such as taking it to a third-party Apple-authorized dealer.

Before you replace the battery, perform a factory reset on your iPad. This deletes everything and resets it to factory conditions. This could fix battery issues that are caused by the operating system itself and is a worthwhile step before forking over hard cash. Just remember to back up your data first.

You should also back up your iPad before sending it in to Apple. Many iPads are set to back up every time they are charged, but it doesn't hurt to do a manual backup in this instance.

Is a new battery worth it? The entry-level iPad is now $329 and is powerful enough for most of us. The newest iPad Pro models start at $799 and the iPad Mini 4 is $399. If you estimate that the entry-level iPad should last a person three to four years and the Pro models even longer, then $99 represents about a year to a year-and-a-half worth of iPad use. If you don't need or plan an upgrade for a couple of years, the battery replacement is the way to go.

Does the iPad Have a Low Power Mode?

IPhones have a feature called Low Power Mode. This feature alerts you at 20% and again at 10% power that you are running low on battery life and offers to put the phone in a Low Power Mode. This mode turns off a number of features, including some that couldn't ordinarily be turned off, such as special graphics used in the user interface. It's a great way to get the most juice out of the dregs of the battery.

Unlike the iPhone, the iPad doesn't have a Low Power Mode.