Is there help for my old iPhone?
September 20, 2021 5:34 PM   Subscribe

So that big security update last week has made my iPhone 6s Plus near unusable, because the battery drain is now on light speed. Is there anything to be done?

I already keep it on low power mode, and have all the traditional "save your battery" settings set. My battery health is at 89%. When I see which apps are taking up energy, I see the apps I have been using for years. Totally normal stuff like Instagram, Words With Friends. But I've already had those on their lowest battery usage settings, and background refresh is off. Even just straight up talking on the phone is killing the battery -- a 30-min call took me from 90% to almost zero.

Is there anything I can do? Are there any super secret settings I should be looking out for? I hate to get rid of this phone (even though it's old) because otherwise it works just fine for my needs.
posted by BlahLaLa to Technology (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What's wrong with getting a battery replacement? $50 directly from Apple.
posted by meowzilla at 6:01 PM on September 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

(I made an appointment to get my iPhone SE battery replaced with an Apple authorized service provider, and even though it says they do battery replacements on this model and it let me make the appointment through Apple's website, when I got there they told me that Apple actually no longer does battery replacements on phones this old. So it's possible that despite what their website says, Apple won't actually do a battery replacement for a 6s.)
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:07 PM on September 20, 2021

IOS 15 just dropped today, and it supports the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Can you try installing it and see if that fixes your battery issue?
posted by Roger Pittman at 6:29 PM on September 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

At the risk of a derail… Apple did replace the battery in my mom's 6S a few weeks ago.
posted by jon1270 at 6:58 PM on September 20, 2021

I got one of those battery cases that really helped in this situation. You should be able to get an official apple one used on eBay for under $50 or so.
posted by rossination at 7:28 PM on September 20, 2021

I was in a similar boat with an SE in early 2020. Following all advice, I replaced the battery, and in less than a year it was back to draining at warp speed.

I ended up buying a new phone, exactly as Apple intended. (And I STILL don’t get a full day’s use out of it without charging at some point during the day. 🙃) If that isn’t an option, I would recommend investing in an external battery with a few full charges in a form factor you won’t mind having connected constantly. I honestly think that is a better option than a more expensive but only temporarily useful battery upgrade on an old iPhone.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 8:12 PM on September 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

Totally normal stuff like Instagram..., In my experience everything from the Facebook factory is a battery killer. I deleted Instagram a couple of years ago and my first gen SE is still running fine.
posted by Lanark at 4:31 AM on September 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

You can also just swap the battery yourself, it's really not hard at all with the older phones (got a little trickier to make it perfect when they went waterproof in the later editions). You can find a bunch of kits on Amazon in the $20-$30 dollar range.

The phone originally came with a 2750mah battery-- so if you get a replacement with 4000mah capacity (battery tech has improved somewhat in the interim), you've already made a 45% improvement, so should offset a bunch of your issues.
posted by Static Vagabond at 4:40 AM on September 21, 2021

Best answer: Of course you can replace a battery in a 6S. That is clearly the indicated solution here. 89% battery health notwithstanding, any 6S on its original battery is sporting a 4-5 year old battery now. They just fade.

Also any new version of iOS will suck tons of battery down for a week or two by design. That said I have found iOS 14 battery management and life awful throughout the run across multiple devices and very much hope 15 is better. But I won’t install any iOS version the week it drops. Almost predictably the first release will be a battery hog that requires further patching.
posted by spitbull at 5:05 AM on September 21, 2021

I forgot to mention that I replaced a fading battery in a 6S last year and it worked just dandy on iOS 14. Still does, but I replaced it with a 12 that doesn’t last much longer on its brand new battery than the 6S did on its aftermarket replacement.

I would expect any aftermarket battery to be good for 1-2 years, not the 3-4 of the original OEM battery. But they’re cheap now.

You can also find refurbed 6Ss right now that have new aftermarket batteries for like $100-120. Cheaper than replacing both battery and screen on your old one, if that’s also an issue.
posted by spitbull at 5:38 AM on September 21, 2021

You can find a bunch of kits on Amazon in the $20-$30 dollar range.

The phone originally came with a 2750mah battery-- so if you get a replacement with 4000mah capacity (battery tech has improved somewhat in the interim)

So has the number of scammers selling batteries with unrealistic capacity ratings online for suspiciously low prices, if by "improved" I mean "got bigger".

Many "bargain" batteries from online stores including eBay and Amazon Marketplace vendors turn out to be nothing more than used batteries with a wrap or even a sticker slapped on the outside. Caveat definitely emptor in this space.
posted by flabdablet at 6:22 AM on September 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

Like flabdablet I don't trust the Amazon battery kits, but I do trust the iFixit kits.
posted by gregr at 7:24 AM on September 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm in a similar situation with an iPhone 7: sometime during the iOS 14.x series, it all went to hell (apps started crashing, battery life terrible for no reason, etc.)

Of note, this iPhone 7 has a new(ish) battery, so I don't think it's likely to be battery related.

No idea if it's a hardware or software issue. I am going to try upgrading to iOS 15 and hope that something gets better.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 7:42 AM on September 21, 2021

Another vote for old battery. I also rely on Ifixit for both their excellent guides and parts like batteries - here's their info for your Iphone 6s Plus battery replacement. It's 30$, and any decent local repair place will be able to sort out the replacement for you at a discounted rate if you brought that in with your phone. I also had a phone serviced recently by Apple - made an appointment, wandered around and had my fixed unit back in 40 minutes.

I think part of what is happening with some of these Ios updates is that after that is completed a cascade of updates to the other software on the phone is triggered. Especially lately for software that is actively trying to evade Apple's privacy rules (cough facebook cough cough) or for honest reasons like it talks to the camera or other hardware. I completely reset a first gen SE and it's been great as a music player and remote. And by keeping the crapware to a minimum it still get's reasonable battery life on it's original battery.
posted by zenon at 8:40 AM on September 21, 2021

You should be able to go to Settings > Battery and see what is draining the battery
posted by pdoege at 7:12 PM on September 21, 2021

I think I improved how long my battery lasts by disabling “Listen for ‘Hey Siri’” (which I forgot was still on; I never use it) and Sound Recognition (in Accessibility settings, which I’d turned on out of curiosity). I assume both require it to be listening even when “sleeping” so might require more battery.
posted by fabius at 5:33 AM on September 22, 2021

Also FWIW, the battery health indicator doesn’t seem to work very well. In cases I’ve seen, on my own phones and my mom’s, 89% “health” doesn’t translate to anything like 89% of the original useful time per charge.
posted by jon1270 at 5:05 AM on September 23, 2021

One thing I noticed was killing my 6S battery was being in areas with weak cell service. The phone struggles to maintain that connection, regardless of whatever other apps or settings you run or if the phone is even being actively used. Switching to WiFi and putting the phone in airplane mode in places where this happened often fixed that problem.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:33 PM on September 23, 2021

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