In iOS 13, Apple will save your iPhone’s battery life in a clever new way

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Among the myriad new features coming in iOS 13, one is easy to miss, and yet it may have the biggest impact on our iPhones in the long term.

The feature, noticed by Cult of Mac, is called “Optimized battery charging,” and it’s essentially saving the iPhone’s battery by not charging it past 80% unless it’s necessary.

The details on how this will work are scarce. Here’s what Apple says about it: “A new option helps slow the rate of battery aging by reducing the time your iPhone spends fully charged. iPhone learns from your daily charging routine so it can wait to finish charging past 80% until you need to use it.”

We’ve seen similar battery management tricks from Tesla, whose battery charges to less than 100% by default.

At first glance, this might seem preposterous: Isn’t it better to have your iPhone charged to 100% as often as possible? Well, no. Having your phone’s battery charge to 80% and discharge to 20% is better for its health than constantly charging it to 100% and draining it to 0%. This may not be noticeable in the short-term, but over the period of a year or two, it will make a difference.

For example, my one-and-a-half-year-old iPhone X currently has 88% maximum battery capacity (you can check this for your own iPhone under Settings – Battery – Battery Health). This is alright – Apple says that its batteries are “designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles when operating under normal conditions.” But the maximum capacity would’ve likely been better had I only charged the phone to 80% all this time.

Image: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Of course, the devil’s in the details. I charge my phone at night and need every single drop of battery juice by evening, so for me, the feature would have little benefit. But someone who connects the phone to the charger during the day, or uses a wireless charging mat, might see their iPhone’s battery life prolonged. Hopefully, Apple’s machine learning algorithms will be smart enough to tell the difference, and if not, you’ll hopefully be able to turn the option off if it doesn’t work for you.