Using iOS 11 on older iPhones

By Tracey Dowdy

Apple’s latest software update, iOS 11.1, brought necessary security patches as well as less necessary but still fun additions like new emojis. If you have an iPhone 7, 8, or are one of the fortunate few with a X, the updates are a good thing. If you’re still rocking an iPhone 5 or 6 series, maybe not so much.

iOS 11.1 drains the batteries on older phones, frustrating users. The good news is, there are ways to mitigate that drain without having to replace the phone or interfere with normal use. The quickest fix is a simple reboot, which can be very effective especially if your phone has been on for an extended period of time. In addition, try these simple hacks to improve your battery life.

Free up space. Any phone with full or nearly full storage will run more slowly. To get an idea of what’s taking up all the space and what you can get rid of, go to Settings>General>iPhone Storage. A screen with a colored bar graph opens, detailing how much space your apps, media, photos, messages, and other miscellaneous software are using. You can choose to offload unused apps or delete old messages when you’re near capacity, and review large attachments to see which – if any – you can delete. You’ll also see a list detailing how much space each app is using and manually delete them if you choose.

Update your apps. Speaking of apps, take the time to ensure all your apps are up to date. Outdated apps are not only a security risk, they often cause your phone to work harder as apps won’t run as smoothly. To see if updates are necessary, go to App Store>Updates>Update All. However, if you’re trying to prevent battery drain for daily use, turn off Automatic Updates as they wear down the battery and keep your CPU engaged. Go to Settings>iTunes and App Store, under Automatic Downloads, tap to toggle off.

Turn off Background Refresh. Similarly, many apps like Facebook and Instagram refresh content even when the app isn’t in use in order to make the most recent content visible as soon as you open the app. Instead, go to Settings>General>Background Refresh and toggle Off, or go to individual apps and select which can be refreshing in the background.

Limit Transparency and Motion Effects. iPhones uses special effects to create a sense of depth when your tilt your phone or open and close apps. It’s style, not function, so you can turn it off and save some battery drain. Go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Reduce Motion.

Limit Location Services. Many apps access your location while you’re using them. That makes sense for Waze or Google Maps, but you don’t necessarily need Netflix to know where you are while you stream Stranger Things 2. Unless you’re in the Upside Down, in which case, definitely leave it on. Otherwise, go to Settings>Privacy>Location Services. Toggle on or off at the top, or manually select apps that access your location from the list onscreen.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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