Any reason this problem isn't a dying battery?

The battery in my iPad (Air 2, I believe, and perhaps three to four years old) has been giving me fits lately. It has gone from 100% to 71% in a few minutes, but it has also held steady at 94% for a long time. In short, it varies, with no pattern that I can recognize. Twice, the iPad has shut itself off, with the battery indicator in the 90s once. The battery charge percentage has declined while it was connected to a charger and the charging indicator was green! Also, I have shut down the iPad and promptly restarted it (without a power connection) and seen the battery charge jump from 71% to something in the 90s. (Why should 71% show up twice in this paragraph and more times that I haven’t mentioned? What is special about 71%?)

My current working hypothesis is that Apple tests for something (probably voltage) that is a proxy for battery condition, and that proxy is not a good indicator of actual battery condition. (I’m running iOS 11.2.6 and, as far as I know, do not have access to any battery condition indication other than the percentage shown at the top of the screen.)

I assume it is the battery and plan to get it replaced if no one argues against it. Giving someone the chance to argue against is the main reason for this post, since I have little to contribute.

But there is one observation I will make, in case anyone can confirm or refute its significance. The problems started fairly abruptly during a trip overseas, when I used the slick Saunorch International Travel Power Adapter mentioned in Adam’s article on travel to the UK. Could the power adapter have damaged the battery? The other notable incident on the trip was using the iPad until the battery got down to under 30% (and perhaps down to 10%, I don’t recall), which was the lowest it had been in its life. Maybe the battery was just old and that stress pushed it over the edge.

Thanks for any advice and you’re welcome if this triggers a thought about what ails someone else’s battery.

First of all, this is one of those ‘did you zap the PRAM?’ kinda suggestions, but:

  1. download this nifty little app (and consider paying for it if it helps); record the readings it provides:
  1. go ahead and then run it all the way to zero; then put it on a high-wattage charger (minimum 12 watts; make sure it’s not a 10 or especially a 5). Do not use it while it charges; on a 12 watt charger, it should take around 90 minutes or less for an iPad Air 2 to reach 100%

– take note: does it get exceptionally warm while charging (asleep, not in use)
– does it take substantially longer, or less than 90 minutes to recharge to 100%?

  1. Take another look and record the readings from the app; any changes?

– batteries don’t tend to just suddenly die; but I suppose damage isn’t out of the question; the the Air 2 is new enough it should have internal charging protection even against fake MFi chargers.

– If it’s an option, back up, then do a factory reset; test the battery; if it is good, then attempt a restore from backup, and retest. That process should correct absolutely anything in software.

– note: you will need to be sure to do a backup before you replace the battery, anyway.

– a battery swap on an Air 2 isn’t as easy as other devices, due to the laminated screen (and some shops will charge more than just the plain iPad, but it’s definitely doable on your own; see the iFixit guides if so inclined.

Curious about your results, if you care to share.

Well, crud; I did not notice the app was crippled in iOS 12; so, maybe by chance you’re still on iOS 11?

It has other helpful uses; else you’ll have to trust the Apple Battery Health in Settings on iOS 12.

EDIT: I reread your post and see you are indeed on iOS 11 still; the app will be useful there.

Also, FWIW, I have an iPad Air 2 that I use the snot out of, and there has not been more then ten total days day since it was new (4 years?) that I have not drained it to the red or zero at least once; occasionally I get in the red twice in a day.

My battery, as reported by iOS 12, is still “OK”, in that because it is not displaying the option to view ‘Battery Health’, iOS 12 is of the opinion it is still too healthy to bother me with the question (that option doesn’t appear until your battery is determined to be nearing EOL – or is that bit even enabled for iPads? Might be iPhone only).

Anyway, I have to be well beyond my 1000 cycle estimated lifespan, and while I know it doesn’t last like it did new, it still does a ton of work every day; I’m well into the evening still before I hit red.

Thanks for the quick response. I hadn’t known that one could “zap the PRAM” on an iOS device, so I haven’t done that.

Editorial: I am impressed unfavorably by an app that starts showing me full-screen ads before I have a chance to see what features it offers. (The first one started as soon as I made my first selection from the menu, or maybe it was when I touched the menu icon and before I made any selection.) Had you not recommended it, I would have deleted it already.

As you can surmise from the editorial, I downloaded and installed Battery Life. Since I don’t see any way to have Battery Life drain the battery, I assume you mean for me to use the iPad until it shuts itself off. As I noted in my original post, it did that once when the battery was showing >90%, so it might not really be drained.

Battery Life reports 14% Battery Wear Level. All the other readings (charge, capacity, voltage) seem to be adjusted for the current state of charge, which is not 100%. Did you mean for me to charge the iPad to 100% and then record the readings? And I wonder if I’m missing something; there are only four readings that appear meaningful. The runtime estimates are apparently based on Apple’s specs and the two of the four parameters I mentioned. Is there more?

Thanks again for the suggestions. Of course, now that I am waiting for the battery to drain, it is doing so slowly.

Sorry, that was intended to be a joke, referencing the classic go-to troubleshooting tips dating back to the original Macs; sometimes it cured bizarre issues; more often not; it never hurt anything to try it; you just had to reset numerous basic system settings.

The nearest modern iOS equivalent is ‘Reset Network Settings’ or ‘Reset Device’ (which have more odious effects as far as resetting prefs/permissions), which we may end up moving towards if we can’t resolve this with software – you asked for suggestions to avoid possibly needlessly buying a new battery, so I’m starting with the obvious.

That particular software is something a user is likely to only try/use once or twice when they have a one-time problem or decision to make, like you.

I personally think the developer is due at least a half penny or so in ad impressions for providing you a tool you are unlikely to pay for after you decide there is, or isn’t anything wrong with your battery. Perhaps you’re in the extreme minority of people who will thank a developer for their efforts, regardless. Welcome to the new world app economy.

Yes. I don’t think it matters at what level you start from; we just want it to run absolutely dead.

Fire up a YouTube HD video of substantial length, or load up a random YouTube Playlist, and, if possible, Airplay it out to another device (even if you don’t watch it/sound off) to kill the battery fastest.

Yes, I wanted to know the reported wear level both before you drain the battery and after you restore it to 100% using the 12 watt or better charger and making the physical heat observations and leaving it asleep until that point.

I’m trying to determine if the battery health estimates vary with charge level. Next we will try to get those numbers at that magic 71%, 50%, and 10%, if the issue isn’t just resolved by doing this “battery reset” in the first place.

If you feel the battery dies/ reaches zero/shuts down long before it should have while running the video, then we need to move on to “zapping the PRAM”.



I drained the battery and recharged it using an Apple charger with a USB-C port. The small print on the charger says its output is 5.2 volts and 2.4 amps. It took over 2.5 hours and under 3.0 hours to recharge. When the iPad shut itself off, the battery indicator showed 34%; when I plugged in the charger, the iPad automatically started and the battery indicator said 25%.

Before draining the battery and after recharging the battery, Battery Life reported the following information. (Sorry for the lack of formatting. Apparently the forum software doesn’t care for my attempt to make the information more readable.)
14% 39% Battery Wear Level
6048/6300 4000/4000 mAH charge [1]
6300/7340 4000/7340 mAH capacity
4.05 4.10 v

As I said, recharging took almost three hours. At 30 minutes, the iPad showed 39% battery; at 60 minutes, 53%; at 90 minutes, 63%; at 120 minutes, 68%; at 150 minutes, 90%; and at 180 minutes, 100%. Sorry, I forgot to notice if the iPad got warm while charging.

[1] Immediately after waking the iPad at the 180 minute point, Battery Life showed 3900/3900 for mAH charge. It changed to 4000/4000 as I looked at it.

I could reset any or all of the settings, but I will wait for advice on which or all. I am not comfortable with iOS devices since there is so little organized documentation (I would read manuals back when they existed) and would rather avoid trying to restore settings, but it’s not a real big deal.

Thanks for your continuing help.

They do exist (feel like i’m in an M&M commercial lol). Go into books or iBooks (whatever it’s called these days), Go to the Book Store, select search and search for iOS. There is a plethora of manuals from Apple (all free). there are User Guides for each version of iOS and each platform (iPhone, iPad, etc.)

Man, first off, thanks for providing excellent details in a clear manner.

Sadly, it is looking very much like a trip to Battery Town. Those charge/depletion numbers are terrible. I suspect it would have been physically cold while charging, but knowing if it was instead super hot would only reinforce the probability.

Regardless, do a complete backup using your preferred method right now (I prefer iTunes local; your call; I’d leave it on a charger until you’re sure you have one).

Any further testing would be purely for fun and simple edification as to the specific culprit, if one still exists in software; so my advice is, after its backed up, do a factory reset — on device, independent of iTunes if you don’t want to go to iOS 12 for some reason.

This will rule out corruption from your third party apps.

Then download as little as you require to hammer the battery in a similar manner to see how it runs with a virgin iOS. Adding Battery Life for testing is acceptable and helpful. I suspect it will behave the same.

If it magically is cured, and repeatable, you can simply restore from backup and the corruption is unlikely to follow. If it does, the hunt is on again.

Warning: I do not know if it is possible to restore from backup at this point without being forced to upgrade to iOS 12. It might be possible from iCloud; the last time I had to do one using iTunes, we were forced to go from 10 to 11, before we wanted to; but lacking an iCloud backup, we were faced with no choice (and the restoration was the only option in the first place, and there was no negative fallout, other than waiting for a buggy app to be updated for iOS 11).

To that end, do you have a specific reason you’re avoiding iOS 12? As a fellow iPad Air 2 owner, I assure you I was extremely pleased with the upgrade; it absolutely became measurably faster in many respects: app launches, Safari page loads, and more. I’m even tempted to claim some additional battery life, but I have no way to validate that impression.

Of course, I was just yesterday on this thread disappointed to learn Battery Life has been robbed of its utility under iOS 12 (yes, I paid for the full Pro upgrade), but other than that, no regrets.

Indeed, Apple’s Battery Health in iOS 12 may reveal battery issues not possible to reveal in iOS 11.

EDIT: Update: Battery Health is indeed unavailable on iPad. However, I totally forgot iMazing can do this via USB.

My Air 2 reports 86% battery capacity (14% wear) after 1072 cycles. Incredible. Very pleased.

Anyway, I think iMazing for Mac has a free trial; it’s come in handy now and again otherwise (I got it in a bundle; not certain I’d’ve purchased it otherwise, but now I’m happy to recommend it).

=== previous ===

addendum: I’m not even certain Battery Health is enabled for iPads at all in the first place, in either iOS 11 or 12. My over-three years old Air 2 isn’t offering Battery Health, whereas my 13 month old iPhone X is (93% capacity already; that doesn’t bode well).

There’s plenty of confusing information that it’s only enabled for models at least a year old, and only specific models, and only after 11.2(3?) or later; and other blurbs that suggest it only becomes accessible when your battery becomes questionable or shows actual wear (according to Apple’s secret formulae).

Surely no battery fairies have visited my home, and after at least 1000 cycles, my battery should be approaching EOL; and yet I can use it from early AM until at least early evening before I see it in the red. I hope I’ve not jinxed myself or offended the fairies that might be.

Thank you, Richard Rettke, for information on the manuals. While I prefer paper, a manual on a screen is much better than no manual at all.

Thank you, frederico, for the battery trouble-shooting help. Before I first posted, I had just about decided to get a new battery, but it’s nice to know that a new battery appears to be necessary rather than just a stab at fixing the problem.

My main reason for hesitating to install iOS 12 is that I thought I heard that iTunes 12.6.5 could no longer manage apps if the iPad had iOS 12. Since I’ve been content with iOS 11, I haven’t tried to get that understanding confirmed or refuted.

Earlier, I mentioned that the trouble seemed to start in England, and I wondered if a power brick could have started the problem. Since the problem started, I have used an in-car charger much more than I ever did before, and I wonder if perhaps an in-car charger could hasten the deterioration of the battery. Any thoughts?

Also, rather than replace the battery, could I just get one or more of those “power packs” (external batteries) and use them to keep the iPad going while it’s away from its charging location?

That would be a yes. Good ones may cost as much as a battery replacement though, so shop around. I have one I carry when attending seminars as I am always concerned my 2012 iPad Air may not make it through the session, so yes, that does work.

In your case, I’m going to suggest that, no, unlike @ecdm7k2jxv Richard’s (presumably) merely old, weak battery, yours is behaving and reporting numbers as though it, or it’s controller, are actually damaged (and suddenly, at that), and I have an ever so slight amount of concern that it might even be dangerous; that’s partly why I wanted to know how hot it got both charging and discharging.

I still think it’s worth a factory reset; you need to back it up before open heart battery replacement, anywayn the reset and drain test will only take another partial evening.

My iPad on iOS 12 is being managed by just fine; I had not heard that 12.6.5 removed support for any device using a App Store management; I thought that was the entire point of the 12.6.x track. I cannot confirm or deny at this time. I never put 12.6.5 on because the advertised improvements were to support devices I don’t own.

I should have the older disk images, if you want to downgrade.

I suppose I could install 12.6.5 and report back to you, but, I’m not going to lie, I’m exhausted tonight and have a busy week to be disturbing what works for me. When it comes to iTunes these days, leaving well enough alone has become sound advice much of the time.

This article suggests that 12.6.5 continues to support all devices using App Store.

The release notes for are:

  • Adds iOS 12 support
  • Fixes a problem with iOS updates and version numbers
  • Released by Apple to allow businesses and individuals to continue to install apps using iTunes
  • Last version to keep the built-in App Store Browser [183]

EDIT: the actual installer also makes clear it adds support for managing both iOS 11 and iOS 12 devices.

I decided to drain the battery once more before clearing all settings. (I should clear all settings, rather than a subset, yes?) I started an app that prevented sleep (GPS HD from MotionX) and went to sleep myself. Eight hours later, the iPad battery was 33% and I wonder if whatever had been the problem had miraculously cleared itself. (Also, since the first drain and charge, the iPad had been on good behavior. Granted, I charged it whenever I could and probably didn’t use it for more than 15 minutes without charging it, but it never dropped below 100%. Before, that would have been enough to nudge it down, and once it shut itself off when the battery showed 94%.)

I decided to abort the drain test and quit GPS HD, then plugged in the charger. Immediately, the iPad shut itself off. I restarted it and charged the battery, with the results shown below. This time, I remembered to check the temperature of the iPad as it charged: cold. As in, room temperature plus 4° F. I used one of those laser-pointing infrared thermometers.
32% start charging (this is down 1% from shutdown)
58% after 20 minutes
71% after 50 minutes
81% after 110 minutes
86% after 140 minutes
100% after 170 minutes

One more data point. After draining the battery (the first time, fully), Battery Life reported 39% Battery Wear Level. Shortly after I posted that information, Battery Life started showing 13% to 9% Battery Wear Level (it got better as time passed). Now it shows 9% Battery Wear Level, 6400/6400 mAH charge, 6400/7340 capacity, and 4.2 volts (dropping to 4.15 v as I typed).

While I do make regular backups (iTunes insists on it whenever I install a new or updated app), I have so little on the iPad that I don’t believe I’d feel bad if I lost it all. My biggest worry about resetting everything is that I would need to figure out how to make a triple-click of the home button dim the entire screen.

Thanks for your thoughts on all this.

It’s as though my eyes are in the room; thank you for being so thoughtfully detailed. You’d make a great scientist/engineer/data analyst (doubtless you already are).

Besides the obvious unacceptable random shutdowns (this time instantly triggered by attaching a charger) at percentages not less than 3%, your battery is simply taking too long to recharge.

While both tend to indicate battery, the former could still be software; the fact you’re seeing slightly better (perceived) behavior also leans to software; but the inconsistency of Battery Life readings is unexpected. My thinking there is a cell / group within the battery has partial potential and is making random spikes.

I definitely do not like the charger-crash trigger, which circles back to a damaged controller, but that’s a rarity, despite you being concerned of the sudden onset while on a foreign charger. It’s not out of the question, however.

But, again, it costs nothing to do a factory reset (yes, reset all settings as though it were new) and run another series of battery attacks without your personal data or third party apps (apart from Battery Life or anything similarly benign), especially anything that wants to run in background with background or location permissions.

Well, guilty, except it’s were rather than are. And my former employer would probably dispute the use of great.

The iPad has been reset and is draining its battery. Except for Battery Life and GPS HD (to keep the screen lit for battery drainage), no third party apps are running. I did like how Apple asked me twice if I really wanted to reset everything.

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I’d just like to point out the GPS HD has undoubtedly asked for location permissions, has it not? Not out of the question it has a background process, that, if granted, may be a leading contender for rapid battery drain, especially of GPS/WiFi/cell services are spotty.

To that end, I forgot to ask if this was a cellular-capable model, and if you have an active data plan.

In no case should you be getting hard crashes with good battery left, regardless, but it’s worth noting what services are hitting the battery 24/7, sleep or not.

GPS HD does want location permissions, which I have granted While Using. (Every app listed in Location Services has permission either While Using or Never. I quit every app that has While Using permission when I am not using it. Share My Location is off. Several items under System Services are on.) I don’t know if any While Using process has a background process. Where would I look for that information? (I just recently learned that Mail has a background process. The iPad was announcing mail had been picked up while Mail was not running.)

It is cellular capable, with a data plan (200 MB per month for free from TMobile), but Cellular Data is turned off almost always, and has been throughout this discussion.

Interestingly, after I did the full reset, the iPad connected to my local Wi-Fi network without needing the password to be re-entered. I expected the password to be among the items forgotten.

Thanks for asking about location permissions. I hadn’t poked around Settings recently, and I found that Battery Life had granted itself Background App Refresh privileges. Do you know what Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> System Services -> Wi-Fi Networking is?

The iPad says its battery is down to 33% (putting it in sunlight does wonders for accelerating battery usage), but this iPad could shut down at any time. Should I leave the iPad off when I recharge it after it shuts down? That should ensure no background processes are running.

That should not be necessary. It’s my understanding that an app is only in use when it’s in the foreground or during periods of background refresh, if you have that enabled.

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Yes, force-quitting apps (which is what you’re doing when you “quit” an app in iOS) is almost always counter-productive in iOS and should be reserved for problem-solving situations, just like in macOS. iOS manages what apps are allowed to do in both the foreground and the background at all times, and force-quitting (as opposed to just switching to another app and back) requires more CPU power and draws more battery power when the app is relaunched. Although I’ve not seen it, it’s also possible that force-quitting would cause you to lose some amount of work that hadn’t been saved in certain apps.

The one time you might want to force-quit an app is when it seems to be drawing excessive battery power for no apparent reason. (If it’s a location-aware app, tracking location will use more power, but the first approach should be to try to stop the app in normal ways, like ending navigation.)

My wife’s iPhone 6 had similar behavior. It would read 100% for hours then suddenly crash to <20% or shut down. We paid Apple $30 to replace the battery and all is now well.