Skip to main content

iOS 16 has ruined the best thing about my iPhone, and I hate it

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

iPhone 14 Pro Max lying on a table, showing the Battery section of the Settings app.
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.

Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is my favorite smartphone. Here’s why.
The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max's camera and logo.

When I bought the iPhone 15 Pro Max in 2023, it was my return to Apple’s largest iPhone after several years of only living with the smaller Pro model. I made the decision based on its feature upgrades and a wish to try life with a big-screen iPhone again.

Now, eight months after doing so, have I regretted it? No, quite the opposite.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is superb

Read more
The iPhone 16 might be a bigger upgrade than we thought
Green iPhone 15 showing home screen.

The iPhone 16 is due for some big upgrades if the latest rumors are to be believed. According to CTEE (per AppleInsider), Apple is planning on putting the latest and greatest A18 chip in both the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro models, which would close the performance gap that’s typically existed between devices in the lineup. This is a significant and fairly positive change for people who usually buy the base or Plus model due to cost reasons.

Sources also claim that Apple has upped its chip order from TSMC, its main supplier. The company is anticipating selling between 90 million and 100 million units of the iPhone 16, a step up from the 80 million to 90 million iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro units it sold last year. If true, this would be a significant departure from what Apple has done in previous generations.

Read more
The OnePlus 13 may one-up the Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15. Here’s how
OnePlus 12 Glacial White color held in hand against its red box.

The OnePlus 13 has gotten another tantalizing set of leaks -- including one thing that may give it a significant edge against the Samsung Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15. The latest news comes from Digital Chat Station (DCS) on Weibo, which posted that the OnePlus 13 will have IP69 water- and dustproofing.

This is a notch above the IP68 you get with most flagship phones and a big step above the IP65 that came on the OnePlus 12, which meant that it wasn’t rated to survive a dunk in water. An IP69 rating means that the OnePlus 13 will be one of the most durable phones on the market, and it’s certified to survive high-pressure and high-temperature water jets.

Read more