How to Fix Your iPad's Battery Life

iPad battery low

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With each iPad release, one constant remains. The iPad is becoming faster and faster and the graphics get better every year, and yet the device still maintains an amazing 10 hours of battery life. But for those of us that use our iPad throughout the day, it's still easy for it to run low. And as an iPad gets older, the expected battery life for each full charge gets shorter, so our older devices can have even more problems. We'll take a look at a few ways to fix the iPad's battery life including ways to save on battery power. Have a Mini? These tips will also work to save the iPad Mini battery life as well.

How to 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 simply use it more efficiently. This has to do with flipping a few settings to ensure we aren't using more battery power than we need. These settings will help with the iPad, iPad Pro, and the iPad Mini.

  • Reboot your iPad. Let's start with the tip that isn't a setting but can work wonders. Simply powering off and powering on your iPad can solve problems. You shouldn't have to do it every day, but before you tweak a bunch of settings, you might simply try a reboot. Hold down the sleep/wake button at the top of the display until the screen asks you to slide a button to power down. After it is powered down, hold down the wake/suspend button again to power it back on.
  • Adjust the Brightness. The iPad has an auto-brightness feature that helps tune the iPad based on the light quality 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 can adjust the brightness by opening the iPad's settings, choosing Display & Brightness from the left-side menu and moving the brightness slider. The goal is to get it where it is still comfortable enough to read, but not quite as bright as the default setting.
  • Turn off Bluetooth. Many of us don't have any Bluetooth devices connected to the iPad, so all the Bluetooth service is doing for us is wasting the iPad's battery life. If you don't have any Bluetooth devices, make sure Bluetooth is turned off. A quick way to flip the switch for Bluetooth is to open the iPad Control Panel by swiping up from the very bottom edge of the display.
  • Fetch Mail Less Often. By default, the iPad, iPad Pro and iPad Mini will extend a bit of battery life to check for new mail every 15 minutes. But it also checks 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 the Mail settings and tap the "Fetch New Data" option. This page will let you set how often your iPad fetches mail. There's even an option to only check for mail manually.
  • 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 can drain some extra battery life, so if you don't mind whether or not the iPad refreshes your Facebook newsfeed and has it waiting for you, go into Settings, choose General Settings and scroll down until you find "Background App Refresh". You can choose to turn off the service as a whole or simply turn off individual apps you don't care as much about.
  • Keep up With iPad Updates. It is always 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 will help the iPad run smoother.
  • Reduce Motion. This is a trick that will save a little battery life and make the iPad seem a little more responsive. The iPad's interface includes a number of animations like 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, tapping General settings, tapping Accessibility and touching Reduce Motion to find the switch.
  • Buy a Smart Case. The Smart Case can save battery life by putting the iPad into suspend mode when you close the flap. It may not seem like much, but if you aren't in the habit of hitting the Sleep/Wake button every time you are finished using the iPad, it can help give you an extra five, ten or even fifteen minutes at the end of the day.

How to Fix Your iPad Battery By Finding an Errant App

It is not just a few settings that are causing your iPad Mini some battery problems or keeping your iPad Pro's 12.9-inch display powered all day. While the apps that eat up the most power are generally the ones that we are using the most, sometimes a little-used app can use more than its fair share, so it is a good idea to check which apps are draining your iPad's battery.

A screenshot of battery life usage on the iPad
  • Open the iPad's Settings.
  • Tap Battery on the left-side menu.
  • The top of the 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.
  • Below the activity graphs is a list of battery usage by app. If you see an app here showing for more activity than you remember, you may have an issue. But the biggest thing to check here is background activity. The number of minutes "on screen" is listed next to each app. It will also list how much activity the app had in the "background". This can help you determine whether or not you want to turn off the background app refresh.

How to Extend Your iPad's Battery Life

If nothing else helps, you can get a boost from outside your iPad. We can't all just plug in our iPad throughout the day for an extra charge, but we can use an external battery pack. These act similar to a wall outlet except that they are portable.

Is It Time to Replace Your Battery?

For many people, low battery life signals a great time to upgrade to the latest and greatest, but if your iPad is serving your needs, you may simply need a battery replacement. The good news is Apple charges $99 to replace the battery in addition to a slight shipping fee if you aren't bringing it into a store. There are also other options for battery replacement such as taking it to a third-party.

Before you replace the battery, you should try doing a factory reset on your iPad. This will delete everything and reset it to how it was in the box. This could fix battery issues that are caused by issues with the operating system itself and is a worthwhile step before forking over hard cash.

You should also back up your iPad before sending it in to Apple. Most 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 we estimate that the entry-level iPad should last a person 3-4 years and the Pro models even longer, that $99 should represent about a year to a year-and-a-half worth of iPad. If you don't need an upgrade for a couple of years, the battery replacement is definitely the way to go.

Does the iPad Have a Low Power Mode?

Apple has a feature on iPhones 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 features 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, but unfortunately, the feature doesn't exist on the iPad.  

For those wanting something similar, we've detailed most of the features to turn off in the steps above. You can also follow the iPad Low Power Mode guide.