Apple iPhone 6/6s battery and unexpected shutdowns

If you know me well it will come as no surprise when I tell you I’ve bought cases, covers, pouches, screen protectors, you name it. I even took out AppleCare, the extended warranty plan offered by Apple. I look after my iPhone 6. After all, it did cost a whopping £619 when new!

It was a sunny Spring afternoon back in May. I was out walking on the way to meet my girlfriend. It happened. My first unexpected shutdown. As I reached for my iPhone to make a call to my girlfriend, the display switched off and then the dreaded battery depleted indicator flashed back at me.

The battery depleted indicator displayed on my iphone 6s straight after an unexpected shutdown

I was disappointed and confused. My previous iPhone, my iPad, and even my iPod are older, have been used more, and haven’t suffered any battery issues.

I asked myself…

Do I have change for a payphone? — Check!
Can I remember my girlfriends phone number? — Check!
Can I find a payphone with a handset rather than a bunch of bare wires — Absolutely not!

What are the symptoms of the battery related unexpected shutdown issue?

  • The iPhone will shutdown unexpectedly when the battery indicator has previously been reporting a good battery level. I experienced shutdowns at all levels up to an indicated 55% battery level.
  • The shutdown usually happens soon after waking the device with either the Sleep/Wake button or the Home button.
  • Attempts to power on the device with the On/Off button result in the red ‘battery depleted’ indicator flashing.
  • Further attempts to power on the device may be successful after waiting a period of time. The indicated battery level will be extremely low and another shutdown will be imminent.
  • Connecting the A/C adapter results in the device powering back on. Surprisingly the indicated battery level will now be back to the original good level as soon as the Home screen appears. You may ask yourself, how can this be possible when the battery level was depleted and the A/C adapter has only just been connected?

How many devices are affected?

The official statement from Apple mentions that only a limited serial number range of the newer iPhone 6s devices manufactured between September and October 2015 are affected.

My device is an older iPhone 6 purchased in October 2014, which is well outside of the range that Apple currently acknowledge have a problem.

In reality this is affecting many more devices and I personally know of friends with the same problem with a mixture of iPhone 6 and 6s devices.

It’s happening to me, what can I do?

Battery Replacement Program

If you have an iPhone 6s, it may be covered by the Apple battery replacement program which launched in November 2016. Enter the serial number of your device here to find out.

Update iOS
Always make sure your device is using the latest version of iOS. Check for updates by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

I have read feedback that this issue may be fixed by the latest iOS 10.2 release, but there is no general consensus yet.

Check Battery Usage
Not specifically related to this issue, but it’s worth a quick check anyway since it’s easy to perform. Since iOS 9 you can go to Settings > Battery to display the proportion of battery used by each app. This will allow you to spot any unusual app activity that could be causing a drain on the battery.

Try a reset of all settings

This is less drastic than completely restoring your iPhone and only involves resetting preferences.

It will delete all app preferences, wifi networks, network preferences, and all location and privacy preferences.

It won’t delete apps or messages, and it will leave your email alone too.

It’s a good idea to make sure you have an up-to-date backup first before trying this.

To reset all settings go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings.

Restore as a brand new iPhone

This is drastic and involves completely restoring your device as brand new iPhone.

This will create an environment where the battery behaviour can be monitored over the next 48–72 hours independent of any apps or content that are already on your device.

It’s important to create a backup before performing this operation as all content and settings will be destroyed. You won’t immediately restore from this backup, but you have the option to do so at a later date.

To erase all content and settings after creating a backup, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content And Settings.

After the device restarts, follow the process described here to setup your iPhone. You will select a country or region, connect to wifi, activate your device and choose a passcode.

When you get the option to restore from a backup or setup a new iPhone, make sure you choose Setup as New iPhone. You can now monitor the battery behaviour over the next 48–72 hours without any apps or content.

Get in touch with Apple Support

Support advisors online, over the phone and in Apple retail stores are usually willing to offer you a great deal of time and effort to resolve problems even if a device is out of warranty coverage. Try the steps I recommend above first. They will save you time later as you will otherwise be asked to perform these even if your device is still under warranty.

My experience

A remote diagnostic ran by Apple Support initially reported that my battery was in excellent condition.

Since the issue is still happening after a restore as new, it’s very likely this is a hardware problem, however my engineering team is tracking cases like yours, and we would like to get some logging information from you to confirm that.

Apple Support eventually offered to service my iPhone in December after diagnostic logs transferred and uploaded to Apple Support Engineers demonstrated a hardware fault. Apple have now replaced the battery.

I’m pleased to report no further occurrences since the battery replacement.

Further reading