5 Ways to Extend Your iPhone Battery Life While Cycling

Like many of cyclists, I use my iPhone to capture my ride and on short rides that is no problem. On longer rides where the hours tick on by, I need to maximize the battery life of my iPhone. This posting will explain what I do to extend the battery life of my iPhone 4.

First of all, you really need iOS 5 or higher. If you haven’t upgraded, what are you waiting for? iOS 5 brings you multitasking that works along with the Apps that support it. It also fixes the obtrusive, bring to a halt notification system. I had times where I was into a 40 minute ride,  a text pops up and the bike computer app looses all of its data for that ride! Talk about aggravating. The multitasking feature allows you to turn the screen off and still allow the application and the data-port (I have my ANT+ sensor plugged in there) to be still active running in the background collecting data.

The other thing that I do to extend battery life is I stop all the apps running in the background. For those that do not know, just because you do not see the app running on the screen, Words With Friends and Angry Birds are still active running in the background. All of these apps are busy doing their thing from plain sight taking up CPU processing time or check the Internet for updates or what not. You need to stop all Apps except the bike computer App that you are going to use. Terminating them is a fairly simple process:

  1. Unlock the iPhone
  2. Double tap the Home button
  3. You will see a new row of App icons at the bottom. Those are the Apps that are running. You can scroll left or right to get to the App you want to bring to the front. In our case, we want to turn them off
  4. Press and hold any of the Apps until they start to wiggle.
  5. You will notice a “-” negative sign at the top left of the icons. Click on each one to turn them off until you have only your bike computer App

That’s it for turning off all Apps except for the one you want.

The next step is to turn off notifications and turn off your email checking or set the interval when it checks to once per day or some large value like that.  While you are at it, turn off wireless and Bluetooth. If you use a Bluetooth enabled heart-rate monitor then you will need to leave it on. They are both off when I go out riding.

The biggest drain on your battery is the screen. As much as I love the screen, for long rides of several hours you will need to keep that off as much as possible. Turn it on to see some data but for the most part I have it off. If your app supports it, have it set to dim the screen after a period such as 30 seconds. This means that you will have to push the home button then swipe to turn it on. An inconvenience but it’s not that bad. I got my App to chime every 5 miles so I know how far I have cycled without even looking. I also use that time to to drink water.

Recently, I found an App that will blank the screen automatically and turn instant on by touching the screen. I rarely have to do the swipe thing. This really maximizes the battery life even further.

To recap here are the five steps to keep in mind:

  1. Upgrade to iOS 5. You need the multitasking and the notifications system
  2. Turn off all Apps except the Bike Computer program
  3. Turn off wireless and Bluetooth
  4. Turn off notifications and pushing of emails or other data
  5. Turn off the screen. Set the App to auto dim after 30 seconds

What do I get for all this effort? How about 5.5 hours of total ride time and my battery life is at 35%. If you run on GPS only then you can buy an external battery that plugs into the dataport for about $50-$60 at BestBuy. This is how I extend the battery life on my iPhone 4 while cycling. Results will vary.

Keep on Pedaling!

Got a tip? Share it in the comments section.

9 thoughts on “5 Ways to Extend Your iPhone Battery Life While Cycling

    • Hi Sharon,

      I don’t use an external battery as 5.5 hrs of run time is plenty for me, but I can see where the case can inhibit an external battery back from properly fitting. You may have to use a cable as a go between the two. Connect the external battery to the cable then the cable to the phone. Just an idea.

  1. Just a heads up. Apps that have been previously opened on your phone but are not in use at the current moment are not running in the background unless have a specified function to do so. They are in a suspended state. Still, look out for apps that consistently connect to the internet for data and GPS apps other than your bike computer.

    • Hi Greg,

      Yes you are right. Apps that are in the background needs to be killed. I believe I gave instructions on doing that. I kill everything except the bike computer app that I’m using.

      There are also some jail-broken apps that are of benefit as well but I didn’t include them as most users do not jailbreak their phones.

      • Ray, what Greg meant is that all apps in the “Recent Apps” list (you get by double-tapping the Home button) are NOT running – most of them are in a suspended state.

        You only need to close map apps, or location-tracking apps like Foursquare.

        • Ah, I see what you are getting at. Close only those apps that are constantly connecting to the network checking on this and that or sending data. Most sit idle waiting for you to interact with it. I took another look at Apple’s pages on multitasking and extending battery life and agree with you. I won’t be so insistent on killing every app in the future.

          Thanks for your input!

  2. Thats great for them but what about us with iphone 4 with 5.0.1, 4.11.8 baseband I upgraded from 3gs to 4 and the guy I got the phone from already upgraded to 4.11.8 before I knew it was a bad thing but I was able to jailbreak it with the new untethered 5.0.1 but I still cant use my sim chip on it so I bought a h2o sim to make calls until they make an 4.11.8 unlock but I find it kinda odd that they found this for the newer iphone and ipad but not for iphone 4 4.11.8

    • Hi Lilly

      I have the iPhone 4 with 5.0.1 and I use those techniques to extend my battery life. If you can jailbreak it then you have more options to dim the screen. modmyi.com has all the details on how to do that.

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