How To: 15 Features Low Power Mode Disables or Reduces on Your iPhone

15 Features Low Power Mode Disables or Reduces on Your iPhone

When you enable Low Power Mode on your iPhone, it's not always clear what measures it's taking to reduce battery drain and conserve power. Energy-hungry features you use daily may be noticeable right away, but some things you use frequently may be disabled or reduced without any obvious indicators.

Your iPhone will ask if you want to turn on Low Power Mode whenever your battery hits 20% and 10% power remaining, but it's not mandatory. You can also turn it on or off manually from Settings –> Battery, Control Center, or Siri, and you can even automate it on a schedule or by using specific triggers via the Shortcuts app.

No matter how you activate it, Low Power Mode will enact certain energy-saving measures to ensure your battery lasts longer until you have time to charge it. But you may not want some of the features that are disabled or reduced affected, which would help you decide on whether LPM is needed or not. So knowing what's going on can be important.

Also, by understanding all of the tasks that are getting temporarily affected by LPM, you'll be able to use it whenever it's useful for curbing a particular feature — even if your battery is charged enough.

No matter why you use Low Power Mode, it will automatically disable itself when your iPhone's battery level rises to a sufficient level. And some of the features and tasks listed below may start working again with Low Power Mode still on as long as the battery reaches n 80% or higher charge.

1. Disables 5G (Mostly)

All of the iPhone 12 series models come equipped with 5G capabilities, and if you're one of the lucky ones who's on a plan that actually offers 5G in the U.S., you can get some incredible speeds on the network.

However, if you turn on Lower Power Mode, you also disable 5G connectivity. There is one exception: 5G during video streaming. Video streaming with 5G in LPM is probably more efficient than video streaming on 4G or LTE, so there's no reason to cut that off if you choose to drain your battery even more with video streams.

2. Disables 5G Standalone

While 5G may not be available from every carrier or mobile virtual network operator (ahem, Google Fi), you're less likely to see 5G Standalone if you do get 5G signals.

Standalone means that the 5G network doesn't rely on other mobile phone generations, so it's self-sufficient. Non-standalone 5G networks, which are more common, are integrated into 4G and LTE generations, so you're not using pure 5G all the time unless you're on a standalone connection.

If you have 5G Standalone access (T-Mobile has it available in many areas), you'll disable it with Low Power Mode enabled. Unlike with non-standalone 5G networks, video streaming will not work when 5G Standalone is off since it cuts the whole connection, downgrading you to 5G for videos or 4G/LTE for everything else.

3. Reduces Screen Brightness

Your iPhone's display brightness can drain your battery if it's on the max level all the time. You can help reduce this drain by enabling Auto-Brightness in Settings –> Accessibility –> Display & Text Size, and you can manually adjust the brightness from Control Center's slider or Settings –> Display & Brightness.

Another way to keep your display brightness in check is with Low Power Mode. Whenever you turn LPM on, your display will dim just a little bit. You might not even notice it dimming unless you look for it specifically.

While Apple doesn't state exactly what it's doing, it doesn't seem to be hooking into the Brightness slider seen in Control Center and Settings –> Display & Brightness. That slider will stay where it was, so there's something else at play here.

That something else seems to be the Reduce White Point feature, which lessens the intensity of the whites on the screen, lowering the overall brightness. The Reduce White Point slider in Settings –> Accessibility –> Display & Text Size only goes from 25% to 100%, so there's 25% for Apple to play around with for its Low Power Mode feature.

When LPM is on, you'll see the display dim whether you already have Reduce White Point activated or not and whether Auto-Brightness in the same Display & Text Size settings is enabled or disabled.

4. Disables Email Fetch

Email accounts in the Mail app can either push emails to you when they hit the servers or fetch all missed emails from the time it last fetched them. This is also true for other data types, such as calendars, notes, contacts, and reminders connected to your email accounts.

To adjust your preferences, go to Settings –> Mail –> Accounts –> Fetch New Data. Here, you can disable or enable Push altogether. Under that, you can select accounts individually to adjust settings one by one.

Some accounts will let you choose between Push, Fetch, and Manual, the latter of which will only check for data when the appropriate app opens (Mail, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, etc.). Other email accounts will only allow you to select Fetch or Manual.

Under the list of accounts, you can adjust how often data will be fetched. "Automatically" only fetches when connected to power and Wi-Fi. "Manually" just fetches when the app is in use. And you can also pick between 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or one hour for a set frequency. Battery life can be affected if you have it set to fetch data more often.

When Low Power Mode is activated, the fetch service will be disabled, and the schedule setting will change to Manually automatically, so you'll only be able to manually check for new data until LPM is turned off or your iPhone reaches a healthy charge of 80% or higher.

5. Reduces Auto-Lock's Timeout

By default, iOS makes it so that your display will sleep after 30 seconds of inactivity. This option can be changed to 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 minutes or never in Settings –> Display & Brightness –> Auto-Lock. If you choose any of those, it will drop back down to 30 seconds whenever Low Power Mode is turned on but will return to your preference when LPM is off.

6. Disables Motion Effects

The parallax effect moves your home screen wallpaper (if you set it with Perspective Zoom enabled) and interface elements based on movement data provided by the accelerometer and/or gyroscope. The background moves much faster than the top layer of home screen icons, widgets, alerts, notifications, page dots, and the dock, creating a 3D illusion of depth and space.

With Low Power Mode on, the parallax effect and Perspective Zoom are disabled, so there will be no background or foreground movement on the home screen until LPM is turned off.

Other motion effects, such as weather animations in the Weather app, zoom and slide effects for screen transitions, bubble and full-screen effects in Messages, most in-app animations, etc., will still animate with Low Power Mode on.

Toggling on Reduce Motion in Settings –> Accessibility –> Motion will also disable the parallax effect, but it will also affect the other motion effects listed above.

7. Disables Animated Wallpapers

Dynamic wallpapers for the home and lock screens contain objects that move around in the background, continuously looping, making it feel like your iPhone is alive and not just your smartphone.

With Low Power Mode enabled, the animated movement will stop, and you'll have a temporary still wallpaper until LPM is disabled. The still image is the last-viewed frame in the animated sequence, so it could look different every time you turn on Low Power Mode.

Live wallpapers (and Live Photos) are not affected since you have to activate the movement manually.

8. Disables Perspective Zoom

See the Motions Effects section above.

9. Pauses iCloud Photos Sync

If you use iCloud Photos, your iPhone constantly tries to sync the photos on all of your devices to iCloud. When you turn on Low Power Mode, the syncing process is halted. Any new images you take or download will remain only on your iPhone until LPM is disabled. In Photos, you may see something like "Upload Paused for [#] Items" with a "Manage" button that takes you to LPM's settings. When you disable LPM, syncing should resume as normal.

10. Reduces Background App Refresh

Background App Refresh lets apps check for new data even when they aren't currently the active app. If you just used the app, it'd run for a short amount of time after leaving it, but it will then enter a suspended state where it can't do anything unless Background App Refresh is enabled.

Not all apps offer this ability, but if they do, they'll be able to check for updates and new content long after you last used them. When there's something useful the app thinks you'll want to know about, like a drastic weather change, you'll get a notification alerting you of this important information.

You can enable or disable Background App Refresh system-wide via Settings –> General –> Background App Refresh. You'll also see a list of all the apps that will refresh by themselves, each of which has a toggle so you can enable or disable your refresh settings app by app.

Background App Refresh is turned off system-wide when Low Power Mode is enabled, so none of the important notifications will come through. When LPM is disabled, all of your Background App Refresh preferences go back to how they were.

11. Disables Automatic Downloads

The Automatic Downloads preferences in Settings –> App Store let you choose to allow apps to download onto your iPhone automatically when they are purchased or installed on another of your iCloud-connected devices. You can also make all of your apps auto-update, which is even more helpful.

When you turn on Low Power Mode, both Apps and App Updates are disabled, and those restrictions will be lifted whenever LPM is deactivated.

12. Disables Video Autoplay

While we're in the App Store settings, there's an option called Video Autoplay that automatically plays app preview videos in the App Store. If you have that enabled, it will temporarily disable itself whenever you turn on Low Power Mode, and it will reenable auto-playing app video previews when you shut down LPM.

13. Reduces Refresh Rate

When viewing content in Safari and other places, your iPhone's display shows you a 60 Hz refresh rate at 60 frames per second. When Low Power Mode is on, the refresh rate is reduced to 30 Hz and 30 frames per second in many areas. So if you're browsing the web and notice that things are a little bit choppy, LPM may be the culprit. You can test your refresh rate with a web tool like testufo.com.

14. Reduces CPU & GPU Performance

Aside from the refresh rate drop, iOS reduces your iPhone's overall CPU and GPU performance with Low Power Mode activated. So you may notice that your iPhone may not be as speedy, and graphics may not be as smooth. You can test the specifics of your iPhone using a benchmarking app like GeekBench.

15. Pauses Discretionary & Background Activities

I've already mentioned a few background processes that are affected by Low Power Mode. Still, there are other things you may notice, such as missing updates for location data and networking activity. Not all apps will tie into Low Power Mode, though, and apps that do will do things differently.

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Cover photo by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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