March 03, 2023

With our devices becoming more and more capable of doing a huge range of different tasks, rationing your battery to last a whole day is easier said than done. But you may be surprised to learn that one of the biggest things draining your phone's battery may be a silent process that runs in the background, mostly without you knowing it. This is called Background app refresh.

In this article we take a look at the ins and outs of background app refresh and how to control it best whether you have an iPhone or Android phone. 


What is Background App Refresh? 

Background app refresh allows the apps on your device to automatically search for new information even if they are not directly running on your screen. For example, your email app checking for new messages or your Facebook app updating your news feed, even if you aren’t actively using the app at the current time.

Although the benefit of background app refresh is that it keeps you from having to wait for new information to be fetched when you launch an app, it does come with one significant downside. This is that it can potentially keep your phone or tablet from performing at its best when it comes to battery life and data usage.


Does Background App Refresh Use Data?

Between email updates, text messages, videos and photos, you’re probably well aware of the fact that your smartphone burns through quite a bit of data every day if you are not connected to a WiFi source. 

However, what you may not know is that your smartphone could be burning through data for things you don’t actually need. This is because there will be apps and services that are constantly running and updating in the background without you knowing it it you have background app refresh switched on. While one little app probably won’t use very much data, those little apps can add up to a serious drain on your data plan. Background app refresh certainly uses your mobile data and can lead to costly issues if you go over your data plan limits if it is not controlled well.


​Does Background App Refresh Drain Your Battery?​

In addition to being a drain on your data plan, background app refresh can also have a negative impact on your phone’s battery life. While the feature can be useful, it’s not likely that you need up-to-date information on each and every installed app on your phone. Limiting the number of apps that you allow to use background app refresh will be beneficial to your phone’s battery life. Try turning it off on a few of the apps that updates frequently (such as any social media apps you may have installed) and see if you experience any improvements.

If your battery life or data limits are a concern, luckily there’s a quick way to stop background apps from refreshing constantly and draining data alongside battery.


How Do I Turn Off Background App Refresh On My iPhone or iPad?

Turning off background app refresh on an Apple device is a simple process. Just follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click General
  3. Tap Background App Refresh
  4. Turn off Background App Refresh completely by switching the toggle to off

When you reach the point of being able to turn the toggle switch to off, you can also choose to set apps to refresh only while connected to WiFi. This is a good option for those wanting to stay up to date, but not drain their data excessively. 


How Do I Turn Off Background App Refresh On My Android Device?

For Android devices, turning off background app refresh can be a little more complicated, but it is still easy to do if you follow the steps below:

  1. From the home screen, pull down the notification bar for Settings
  2. Tap the Gear symbol
  3. In Settings, select Connectionsand then Data Usage
  4. Select Mobile Data Usage in the Mobile section
  5. Select an App from below the usage graph
  6. Tap Allow background data usage to turn off

For Android devices you will have to switch off background app refresh individually on each app rather than a blanket switch off over all apps like you can do on Apple devices. Because of this, you may just choose to switch off apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Gmail and those regularly searching and retrieving new data. 


How Do I Turn Off Background App Refresh For Specific Apps On My iPhone or iPad?

For some of you, having up-to-date emails may be a priority, but having an up to date Facebook or Twitter feed may not be. If this is the case, you can customise what apps have this function switched on, similar to Android, on your Apple device. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Background App Refresh
  4. From the list of apps shown, use the toggle to turn Background App Refresh on or off for each app


Overall, background app refresh does have some benefits, but if it is controlled well it can save your phone's battery and a huge amount of mobile data. We highly recommend that you either switch off this feature on your phone altogether, or at least for those apps that are known for constantly retrieving updates.


Here at DeXTech, we are here to help you with your technology requirements. We stock a wide range of Apple products, from the iPhone 4s all the way through to the iPhone XS, plus the iPad range. Along with this, we carry a huge range of Android smartphones and tablets, including Samsung, Pixel and LG. With these devices on hand we are able to offer technical support every step of the way from assisting to get your device setup to dealing with issues such as network issues or software troubleshooting. We have a helpful team who can lend a hand via our tech support email address: Do not hesitate to reach out!

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