iOS 16 has ruined the best thing about my iPhone


I’ve been using an iPhone as my primary device since 2020 because of the next-level battery optimization on iOS. In the past few years, the best iPhones have been my go-to suggestion for anyone looking to buy a phone with the best possible battery life.

But iOS 16 has changed that for the worse. After using Apple’s latest software on my iPhone 13 Pro Max, my battery anxiety has returned. And I hate every bit of it.

My iPhone battery anxiety is back

Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The iPhone 13 Pro Max helped me bid goodbye to my battery anxiety. But that was on iOS 15. The latest versions of iOS 16 have been a mess for me, and the operating system has ruined the best part about my iPhone – the battery optimization.

I realized later that the problem was not the 14 Pro’s battery size, but it was iOS 16’s poor battery optimization.

Soon after it launched last year, I bought the iPhone 14 Pro, but returned it within a month because of the inconsistent battery life. I expected it to be less long-lasting than my iPhone 13 Pro Max due to the smaller battery size, but the iPhone 14 Pro couldn’t even beat my Galaxy Z Fold 4 to last a day. As a result, I was back on 2021’s top-end iPhone.

I realized later that the problem was not the 14 Pro’s battery size, but it was iOS 16’s poor battery optimization. I only realized this when I noticed that the latest OS updates had compromised my iPhone 13 Pro’s battery life as well.

In January, I switched to the iPhone 14 Pro Max in hopes of getting a phone that would last me an entire busy day. But after a month of use, I’m severely disappointed. The battery life on the latest iPhone is no match for 2021’s top-end iPhone.

In the past month, I’ve traveled to quite a few places, so I was mostly on the move. As a result, I found myself using Google Maps, Uber, and other commuting apps. I discovered that any app using location services on iOS 16 sucks the battery life out of my phone.

The Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

For instance, I had to catch a 10 a.m. flight last week. I took my phone off the charger at 6 a.m. and had a 100% charge. By the time I landed in Delhi at 2 p.m., the phone was down to 35%, which was a surprise because I was listening to music on Spotify offline in airplane mode on the flight. Looking for cabs on Uber drained the battery even further, causing me to end up with about 20% charge by the time I was home at 3:30 p.m. I wasn’t even on 5G! All of this is based on LTE usage.

In my experience, there is no consistent battery life behavior to be pointed out. Sometimes, Spotify drains the battery, while other times, it is Twitter (two of my most used apps). But the battery drain on any app using location services is the worst on iOS 16. These apps include Maps, commuting services, dating apps, and the Camera app (if you have the location tag feature enabled).

I’ve also noticed poor standby battery drain on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which wasn’t the case with its predecessor. With the iPhone 13 Pro Max, it would drain about 1% to 2% of battery throughout the night. But the number now stands at around 8% on the latest iPhone running iOS 16.3.

I’m not alone in this

Someone holding a purple iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Several people have taken to public platforms to reveal that they’ve been experiencing bad battery life since the latest iOS 16 updates. The update was so bad for one iPhone XS user (with a new battery installed about a week ago) that they went back to iOS 15.7. The iOS 16.0.3 update was an improvement, but the succeeding updates have been bad.

“After updating my 5-month-old (iPhone) 13 Pro to iOS16.1, i began to experience HORRIBLE [screen-on time],” says another Reddit user who found a solution on the Apple discussions website, but it wasn’t a one-time fix. The battery drainage returned with the iOS 16.2 update. Digital Trends’ Senior Mobile Writer Andy Boxall, had a similar experience with iOS 16.2. The mix of Wi-Fi and 4G took at least 40% of the battery each day for him. “iOS 16’s efficiency is all over the shop,” he said. It continues to be a problem on iOS 16.3 for me.

Another iPhone user took to Reddit to see if the iOS 16 battery life was bad. “iOS 16.1 still feels like beta software to me,” says one of the replies, and I agree. While Apple has worked to fix the bugs, iOS 16.3 isn’t the best when it comes to battery optimization. It’s been fine for some people, but the update has been a big disappointment for me and many others.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra may be the new battery king

Two Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra phones. One is face-up with the display turned on, the other shows its backside.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

I’m now testing the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. I’ve been consuming media, scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, and listening to songs. Based on my initial use, the latest Samsung flagship seems to be the next battery king.

However, I’ll restrict my verdict on the battery life until I use it on LTE with my SIM in it, which I plan to do this week. It’s disappointing to see the iPhone have such a far fall from grace, but unless something changes with iOS 16 — and soon — it looks like it has lost its battery grip.

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