See how bad your iPhone battery really is using coconutBattery

Use coconutBattery on the Apple Mac to see the health of the iPhone and iPad battery.

Apple has confessed to slowing down the iPhone’s performance when the battery is old and weak, so how bad is your phone’s battery? Run coconutBattery on the Mac to get a detailed report.

As the iPhone ages the battery become weaker. It does not hold as much charge as it used to when it was new and it cannot provide as much power as it once could. For this reason, Apple has designed iOS to limit the CPU and GPU speeds so that they draw less power from the battery.

The advantage of this is that the length of time the phone can run on the battery is maintained to a certain degree. Battery life is not reduced as much as it would be if all the iPhone's components were to run flat out, as they do in a new iPhone.

The disadvantage is that the iPhone runs more slowly. Here is what Apple says will happen as the iPhone battery gets older and weaker (iPhone battery and performance):

  • Longer app launch times
  • Lower frame rates while scrolling
  • Backlight dimming (which can be overridden in Control Center)
  • Lower speaker volume by up to -3dB
  • Gradual frame rate reductions in some apps
  • During the most extreme cases, the camera flash will be disabled as visible in the camera UI
  • Apps refreshing in background may require reloading upon launch

So basically everything runs more slowly and less smoothly on an old iPhone. Some things are even disabled. Of course, we all knew that. We just didn’t have any confirmation from Apple that this was the case. Just a vague suspicion that Apple was slowing the device. Nowe we know it is true.

Get a battery monitor app

If you have an iPhone that is more than a year old, you might want to check the the health of the battery and see how good or how bad it is compared to when it was new. Has it deteriorated sufficiently to cause iOS to slow down?

There are many battery monitor utilities and some are very good, but mainly they are for monitoring a MacBook’s battery. The exception is coconutBattery, which enables you to check the status of the battery in iOS devices in addition to the MacBook battery.

If you have an old version of this app, get the latest one because it has been improved and made compatible with macOS High Sierra.

Download coconutBattery for the Mac and double click the zip file to extract the contents. Drag the app to the Applications folder to install it.

Install coconutBattery on the Apple Mac

Plug in an iPhone or iPad

Run coconutBattery and when the window appears, it shows the MacBook battery status. 

Select the iOS Device tab. It says No iOS device found, so plug in the iPhone using the USB cable and the click the big refresh button in the centre.

coconutBattery for the Apple Mac

Enable access on the iPhone or ipad

Next it will say that access is denied. This is just a security check and a matter of trust. Turn on the iPhone or iPad screen and tap the Trust button to allow the Mac to access the device. Then click the refresh button in coconutBattery.

Authorise the Mac to access an iPhone

View the iPhone or iPad battery status

The iPhone’s status is displayed and there is an example below of an old iPhone 6. The important figures to look at are the Full Charge Capacity, which is the maximum charge that the battery can hold, and the Design Capacity, which is the maximum it was designed to hold.

As the Cycle Count (the number of full charges received) increases, so the Full Charge Capacity decreases. It just can’t hold as much as it used to.

coconutBattery for the Apple Mac showing the iPhone battery status
Bottom green bar = battery health

You can see that this old iPhone 6 us actually doing quite well and it can hold 91.5% of the original design capacity. When it falls below 80% you should consider replacing the battery because it will probably rapidly decline from there on.

coconutBattery showing the status of an iPad 2
Bottom green bar = battery health

In the screenshot above you can see that this old iPad 2 can only hold 81.8% of the design capacity charge. It is painfully slow. This is mostly because of the old hardware, but performance could be limited because of the poor state of the battery. The device is past its use-by date anyway and it wasn't even charged up when I plugged it in.

  • Battery health 90 - 100% = Good
  • Battery health 85 - 90% = OK
  • Battery health 80 - 85% = Poor, may affect performance
  • Battery health 50 - 80% = Bad. Limited performance

Store the battery history

The plus button in coconutBattery is used to save the battery status. On the History tab you can view the historic values for the battery charge and monitor its decline.

Monitor your MacBook battery

The MacBook’s battery can also be monitored and coconutBattery has an interesting online component that enables you to compare your MacBook’s battery with other people’s.

coconutBattery showing the MacBook battery status
The battery in this old MacBook is still good at 90.8%

It needs to run for a few weeks or even months to see a full chart. I just started using it and have just one data point in the chart below (the dark green dot just right of centre). However, it looks like this MacBook’s battery is doing better than average.

Monitoring the MacBook battery using coconutBattery

The chart above is displayed in a browser. Click the button on the History tab in coconutBattery.



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