iOS updates might drain your battery faster

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iOS 10 wins in a battery life comparison with iOS 11 and iOS 12.
iOS 10 wins in a battery life comparison with iOS 11 and iOS 12.
Photo: iAppleBytes

A side-by-side test of four iPhones running current and older iOS versions found that the more recent ones drain batteries more quickly.

This result is likely to feed the concerns of people who refuse to upgrade their iPhone’s operating system for fear that doing so will render the device useless.

iPhone battery testing in 3, 2. 1…

iAppleBytes had the batteries replaced in four iPhone 6S units so they could store nearly identical amounts of power. These devices were running either the current iOS 12.3 Beta 1, last week’s iOS 12.2, the older iOS 11.4.1, or the elderly iOS 10.3.3. The test then consisted of all four handsets running a lengthy YouTube video until their batteries were empty.

The iPhone running iOS 12.3 Beta 1 lasted the shortest amount of time: just a hair over 10 hours. This isn’t surprising, as improving battery life is one of the last things developers do in pre-release versions.

The devices with iOS 12.2 and iOS 11.4.1 had a virtual tie, with both lasting about 10 hours and 30 minutes. The newer version lasted roughly 7 minutes longer.

But the hands-down winner was the iOS 10.3.3 iPhone. It was able to play the YouTube video for 11 hours and 41 minutes, more than an hour longer than any of the rest.

Watch the video for the full results:

Fodder for conspiracy theories

There are those who believe that a main purpose of new iOS versions is to make older iPhone models obsolete so people have to buy new ones. This group is likely to embrace one of the results of this test as evidence that they’ve been right all along. And it’s undoubtedly true that the iOS version introduced in 2016 offers significantly longer battery life.

However, what also true is that last year’s version of iOS has a slightly shorter battery life than the current one. That’s ignoring the beta because it almost certainly isn’t representative of the performance of the eventual final version of iOS 12.3.

Lots of reasons to upgrade

A factor that can’t be ignored is that anyone who refuses to upgrade their iPhone out of fear it will reduce their battery life is missing out on the new features that come with successive iOS versions. And that includes security patches.

Even older iPhones that never move to fresh iOS versions will see a gradual degradation in battery life. That’s inescapable with lithium-ion batteries, as they wear out in time so that can hold less power.