How to reduce iPhone 5 battery and data leakage

**Note: always back up your iPhone before playing around with settings!**

I recently bought an iPhone 5. It was a huge jump up from my old 3GS and I love it: slim and light, super fast and responsive, excellent GPS response and accuracy, the camera is fantastic (the panorama function is fun), I love the retina display, and the extra screen space is great.

But there were two things I wasn’t so keen on. The battery seemed about on par with my 3 year old 3GS (ie, needed to be recharged every day) and my data allowance was leaking away at an alarming rate. (I rarely scratched the surface of my 500MB monthly allowance with the 3GS but my iPhone 5 was consuming 50-100MB a day.) Now, I understand that some of this was down to the fact that it was a new toy and I was probably using it more than usual, but after a bit of research I discovered these were pretty common complaints for both iOS6 and the iPhone 5. I became determined to find a solution.

I collected a long list of tips from a variety of forums, blogs and articles and tried every one. In the end I found…

The two things most likely to help:

FOR BATTERY LIFE: Reset all settings

Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings

“If you’re prompted, enter your Passcode. Wait for the reset to finish then use your phone until it gets down to 0% then shuts off. Then, plug in your iPhone 5 until it charges to 100%. This should help to solve any battery life issues you’ve been having.” [Source:]

I’m not sure why this helps but it seemed to do the trick for me. Combined with setting my phone to airplane mode at night I now only need to recharge once every 3-4 days. You may want to make a note of all your current settings before you reset so it’s quicker to set them back afterwards. Note that it will also wipe all your saved wifi passwords!

FOR DATA LEAKAGE: Delete iCloud account from the phone

Settings > iCloud > Delete Account

(Note that this just removes the iCloud account from your phone, it doesn’t close it altogether. You can always turn it on again in the future if you want to.) See this thread for an explanation and a demonstration of why this supposedly works. Apparently even if you turn off all the settings that could possibly connect to iCloud it will still chew data (sometimes even when you’re connected to wifi!), unless you remove the account from your phone.

The trick is that without iCloud you’ll need to connect your phone to your computer regularly to back up, and you won’t be able to use features like Find My iPhone. (That’s the only iCloud feature I found useful anyway – I use Gmail to sync all my email, contacts and calendar items, Any.DO for tasks and Evernotes for notes.)

If you’re not keen on doing this, or it helps but doesn’t completely resolve your data leak, the only sure-fire guarantee is to turn data off when you’re not using it. It’s a little bit inconvenient at first but you get used to it. Go to Settings > General > Cellular > set to OFF. (This also helps battery life.)

I’ve listed below all the other suggestions I found in case you find any of them helpful. (Some may appear on multiple websites but I’ve just listed the sources where I first came across them.)

General suggestions for both issues:

  • Try a hard reset.
  • Set email to Fetch or Manual rather than push. I have my main email account set to Fetch every hour and my secondary account set to manual. You can do this by going to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data > Advanced.

To reduce excess data usage:

  • Install a data tracking app to see if it can help you pinpoint the data leaks. Some free options are: Data Usage Monitor, DataWiz or My Data Manager.
  • There are reports of the phone “using excessive amounts of data and preferring the 4G network over wi-fi even when connected to wi-fi. Some have suggested iCloud Safari bookmark syncing is causing the excessive data issue… To turn this off go to Settings > iCloud. Here swipe the Safari slider to off.” [Source:]
  • “Others have suggested the Apple Podcast app is also causing issues and have said removing it might help.” [Source:]
  • Turn off iTunes Match: Settings > iTunes & App Stores > iTunes Match > set to OFF. “…some users say they have found iTunes Match downloads continue if they have started in a Wi-Fi zone but then move away and get a mobile data connection. “Rolphus”, a British software developer in Reading, is using an iPhone 4 updated to iOS 6 and had “use cellular [mobile] data” turned off for iTunes Match downloads – but still saw them carry on, which he said meant his data use had rocketed: having used about 140MB of data per month, he had used more than 300MB in less than that time. Chris Budden, who has been hit by the iTunes Match problem, said “I called Apple about it and they said ‘that’s how it is’.”” [Source: The Guardian]
  • In the States Verizon suggested to reset network settings. These will be reset anyway if you reset all settings as above, but if you want to try this in isolation go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
  • Turn off ad tracking: Settings > General > About > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking > set to OFF
  • Don’t send diagnostics: Settings > General > About > Diagnostics & Usage > Don’t Send
  • Turn off system services: Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > everything set to OFF
  • If you haven’t deleted your iCloud account as above: Settings > iCloud > Documents & Data > Use Cellular Data > set to OFF [Source: Apple Support Community]
  • Settings > iTunes & App Stores > Use Cellular Data > set to OFF [Source: Apple Support Community]

To extend battery life:

  • Turn off unnecessary notifications. Just removing them from Notification Centre doesn’t turn them off, you have to turn off Badge App Icon, Sounds and View in Lock Screen as well. “Getting lots of notifications can be a real drain on battery life as the screen constantly turns on, and the device constantly polls the Apple servers for notifications.” [Source:]
  • Stocks, and particularly weather in Notification Center seem to be causing our readers some battery grief. Since weather can be location-based now, the potential is there for more battery abuse. [Source:]
  • Turn off Siri: Settings > General > Siri > set to OFF. “Readers keep telling us this has helped them with battery life due to accelerometer issues.” [Source:]
  • Automatic time zone costs battery capacity a lot because of its calculation of continuous location tracking. If you turn it off, you will save 30% of the power even though iPhone can’t set the time zone automatically when you travel. Tap on Settings > General > Date & Time > Set Automatically to off, then you can change the time zone manually.” [Source: BatteryDoctor]
  • Turn off unnecessary Location Services: Settings > Privacy > Location Services. [Source:]
  • Turn off wifi when you’re not using it so the phone isn’t constantly searching for connections. [Source:]
  • Settings > General > Auto-Lock > 1 minute. [Source:]
  • “Turn off any extra sounds, like keyboard clicks.” [Source:]
  • “Turn off the iPod EQ.” [Source:]
  • “Use headphones instead of the speaker if you have to listen to audio or music.” [Source:]
  • “Turn down the screen brightness.” [Source:]
  • “Turn off Bluetooth when not using it.” [Source:]
  • “A simple trick to get better battery life is just to restart your iPhone 5 once in awhile to flush its system. If you’re like me, you’ll often leave your device on for weeks maybe even months at a time without restarting it. Just by holding down the power button and turning it off, you may be able to gain back some precious battery life.” [Source:]
  • “About once a month, and certainly if you’re having problems, you should completely drain your iPhone… drain it until it shuts down on its own – and then charge it back up to full.” [Source:]

(Note that the idea you need to close all the apps in your multitasking bar to save battery life is a misconception!)

2 thoughts on “How to reduce iPhone 5 battery and data leakage

  1. Great list!

    One more to add. Stuck emails can cause exponential data use:

    “Please read the entire description. I have seen that the most common cause of high or unexplained data spike is a email stuck in the outbox. If you are the only user and your usage jumped three, four or five fold then the first thing you want to check is if there is a email in your outbox that did not go out and is trying to send. Normally if there is a email in the oubox it will give you the data and if you look at your data use history it will show that date when your data spiked. You either have to delete the email from your outbox OR if you cannot delete it then remove your email account and re-add it.

    Steps to remove and re-add email account.
    Go to Setting, then Mail Contacts and Calendars. Then tap on the email account and select delete account. Once deleted you can re-add the account. (this would be done only if you cannot delete the email from the outbox)”


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