Why Your Smartphone’s Battery Drains After an Update

A decreasing battery life is one of the biggest problems for many smartphone users, but it’s especially more noticeable after an update. Although batteries in phones have become better in recent years and continue to improve, the amount of battery power needed to run the growing number of features is constantly increasing. This leads to an endless cycle, where you can never seem to get enough charge that sees you through the day.

As a smartphone ages, the amount of charge it can hold naturally degrades at a steady rate. However, it seems that after about a year a software update will come along and then the battery life plummets. Is this just coincidence or is there a reason behind this?

Why Does it Happen?

This issue is one that many users have reported on forums over the years, so if you are experiencing these issues then you are not alone! It’s so common, some users have developed a theory about why it happens, and here it is:

Problems with smartphone batteries seem to happen about a year into their use. Why is this an important factor? Well, most smartphone providers also tend to release their latest models on an annual basis, so this encourages customers to upgrade to the newest model.

Updates often follow the release of a new model of phone. However, more often than not these new operating systems (OS) cater to the newest model and neglect the design limitations of the older devices.

Is the Battery Draining Deliberate?

There are a couple of conflicting arguments here. Obviously none of the market players like Apple, Google and Samsung are going admit to deliberately draining our smartphones’ battery power, but there can be no denying that there is a correlation between the release of a new phone and the battery life of the previous model suffering. This can be seen first hand, and has been well documented for years no, but could it really be part of a push to shift the new model?

The first option, and perhaps the juiciest, is that the companies themselves are causing it. From a business standpoint, this would make a lot of sense as they capture the sales of the diehard fans who are going to buy again at release regardless. But after a few months of poor battery performance, would they be able to get these same customers who were happy enough with the previous model to feel like they should upgrade to something better with more power?

This would add another audience for their new phone and, if they do this Year-in and year-out, the company would essentially be turning a customer who buys once every 2 years into one who buys annually.

Newer Models Are the Problem, Not the Update

The second theory is that the old model’s battery woe is actually due to the capabilities of the new phone. When a company releases a new phone, they want it to be the fastest and the best on the market. This usually means a bigger hard drive, more computing power and a more advanced operating system; all of this is then powered by the bigger battery they inevitably put in.

However, when they release the update for the newest model, this same update gets applied to all previous models. So, essentially the brand new update, which has been designed for the new phone and its big juicy battery is now being run on a phone without the upgrade.

What this means is that all the processing power that the new update requires is easily handled by the new device. However, the old one is left trying to play catch up. And that is why we see the battery life suffer.

What Can You Do?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent this. You can deliberately avoid the update, but this is not without risks. Not updating means that you don’t have the latest security features and that you won’t be able to update your apps. Apps and software that have not been updated are by far the biggest security threat to smartphones. Realistically, you are much better off updating and dealing with the battery issues than leaving yourself vulnerable to viruses and malware.

Another option is to make some changes to your phone settings and get your usage down to make the battery charge last longer. Or perhaps now is the time to get a battery charging case, wireless charger or a portable charger? Because your phone is now more than a year old, technically it’s “outdated” in the eyes of retailers, meaning accessories and improvements that once cost too much are now available at a discounted price. Not only this, but third party retailers have had plenty of time to develop effective and cheap accessories.

Your last option is to just get the latest version of the phone. Obviously, this is part of the problem and you are likely reading this article thinking about wanting to keep your current phone. However, it is an option and often, once the diehards have picked over the initial batches at a premium price, retailers start to offer deals that might just suit your needs.


  1. Yep! I have a two year old iphone and I just completed an update. Sure-as-shooten the phone went dead. Checked it in the morning after the update (wifi) and the phone showed 75% charge and worked great. About an hour later when I was ready to go, I picked up my (very warm) phone, went to check the weather forecast and….Nada! Dead! Did the home button thing and the phone came back to life. Just waiting to see if it will recharge itself. Oh well. Didn’t want to get a new phone,but it looks like that is the next step.

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