What is Low Power Mode on iPhone and iPad? What does it actually do? Is productivity on the device affected? Does it noticeably extend the life of the phone or iPad? Should I use it all the time?
I set out to answer these questions and discover if this feature of the iPhone was worth using or not.
How to turn on Low Power Mode.
When in low power mode your battery icon in the top right of your iPhone screen will turn yellow. To turn on Low Power Mode follow these steps.
- Open the Settings App from the Home Screen.
- Scroll down to Battery.
- Toggle the Slider for Low Power Mode.
To make it even easier to turn Low Power mode on and off you can add the Low Power Mode button to the Control Center on your device. The Control Center can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of your screen on iPhone 4 through 8 Plus. By swiping down from the top right hand corner of the screen on iPhone X, XS and XR.
Add to control center for quick turn on and off ability.
Directions to add Low Power Mode to the Control Center. You will need to be on iOS 11 or higher to customize the Control Center.
- Open the Settings App from the Home Screen
- Go To Control Center
- Tap Customizer Controls
- The list at the bottom under More Controls tap the plus button next to Low Power Mode.
- (Optional) Press and hold on the lines to the right of the controls to rearrange the menu.
Will Low Power Mode slow down my iPhone?
Testing done with Geekbench on an iPhone with low power mode shows that it does throttle the CPU performance when in Low Power Mode. Testing with an iPhone XS shows low power mode slows down the CPU by 27%. On iPhone X it was a whopping 44% slower in Low Power Mode.
What iOS functions are affected by Low Power Mode?
According to Apple, the following features are affected by low power mode.
- Email Fetch
- When using the apple email app, emails will not be automatically downloaded while in low power mode. Thus if you are waiting for an email to come in, or just need to answer emails right away, this feature will stop email notifications. Third party email applications such as Outlook are unaffected unless the manufacturer designs the app to pay attention to when low power mode is turned on.
- Hey Siri
- Hey Siri is disabled while in low power mode. Hey Siri is the feature on iPhone 6s or newer that allows you to activate Siri hands free just by saying Hey Siri.
- Background App Refresh
- Background app refresh allows apps to stay running for a short period of time after you close them to update content. In some cases background app refresh also allows apps to update before you open them, this would be disabled for all apps in Low Power Mode.
- Navigation apps such as Google Maps or Waze are mostly unaffected by this because they use a different service to update GPS and location data.
- The real world affect of disabling Background App Refresh is probably minimal some apps may take longer to update their content with it off.
- Automatic downloads
- If you have automatic downloads turned on for your Apple ID account then this will be disabled when Low Power Mode is turned on. Automatic Downloads means any purchase made in the App Store, iTunes Store or Apple Books on any device gets automatically downloaded.
- Some visual effects
- Some visual effects are turned off. Apple isn’t clear on what effects are turned off but this most likely refers to animations when apps are opened/closed and the like.
- The Auto-Lock time will be defaulted to 30 seconds while in Low Power Mode and the time set in settings will be ignored.
- iCloud Photo Library
- The iCloud photo library will be temporarily paused. This means any photos you take on the phone will not be uploaded to the cloud. Also any photos in the cloud taken on other devices will not be downloaded to your phone.
History of low power mode
First introduced with iOS version 9 in 2015 Low Power Mode was designed to reduce the power usage of your phone when the battery was low and extend your phones life. On iOS 9 and newer your phone will ask if you want to turn on Low Power Mode when your battery reaches 20%, and will automatically turn off when you charge past 80%. With the release of iOS 11 Apple introduced the ability to customize the Control Center and this added the ability to add Low Power mode as a toggle on the Control Center.
What third party apps are affected by low power mode?
How third party apps are affected by low power mode will be a case by case basis. Apple allows third party apps to know if the phone is in Low Power Mode and it will be up to the individual developers to decide how their app responds to Low Power Mode.
Does low power mode turn off location services?
No, Location Services are not affected by Low Power Mode so your maps and GPS will continue to function normally even in Low Power Mode.
Does alarm work in Low Power Mode?
Yes the Alarm clock on the iPhone will still work even in Low Power Mode.
Can I use Low Power Mode all the time?
The biggest deal breaker for Low Power Mode can be the email fetching. If you need to be able to monitor your emails as soon as they arrive Low Power Mode is not for you. Then if you want your photos to automatically upload/download from the cloud or if you want a custom auto-lock time then you may also want to think twice about Low Power Mode.
What it ultimately comes down to is if the added battery life is more important than the speed and feature features you lose with Low Power Mode. If you don’t miss those features in Low Power Mode then keeping it in that mode all the time is a perfectly fine thing to do. Keep in mind that your phone will automatically turn it off every time you charge past 80% but adding the toggle to the Control Center will allow you to quickly turn it back on every time you charge your phone.