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iPhone Battery Percentage Is Back With iOS 16 — How It's Changed

iOS 16 packs a ton of intuitive features that will change the way iPhone users interact with both their device and others, but also marks the return of a simple indicator — the battery percentage in the status bar. From the very first version of iOS to the sixteenth iteration, which is slated for release this fall, there are essential functions that have been mainstays of the iPhone from the very beginning. One of these functions is the iPhone’s battery percentage — a simple tool that lets users know how much battery their device has left. Though it is a feature many users take for granted, it is one of the most critical features of a smartphone. Without clear battery indicators, smartphones would be running out of power at the times when they are needed most.

Though the battery percentage indicator is a feature nearly all users depend on daily, it has become much harder to visualize in recent versions of iOS. That’s not entirely a software issue, though. The lack of clear battery percentage indicators in the iPhone’s status bar has more to do with the change in hardware than Apple’s software preferences. In 2018, the company introduced the iPhone X with a complete redesign to encapsulate the tenth anniversary of the revolutionary smartphone. This coincided with the introduction of the ‘notch,’ the colloquial term for the block of bezel that houses Face ID sensors and cameras in newer iPhones. The notch consumed much of the space traditionally reserved for the status bar, which forced Apple to choose which indicators remained in the status bar moving forward.

Related: iOS 16’s ‘Sleep’ Wallpaper Mode Is An iPhone Always-On Display Preview

On iPhones with a notch — most iPhones released after 2018 — the status bar dramatically changed, since it was only able to house a few indicators. The time remained, of course, in the top left corner of the device at all times. In the top right corner, the cellular status indicator consumed most of the available space. The battery status indicator was also housed in the top right corner of the screen, but there wasn’t enough room for a numerical battery percentage. Instead, only an image depicting the amount of remaining battery was shown in the status bar. To view the exact percentage of battery life remaining on iPhones with Face ID, users had to open the control center to view the full status bar, including a numerical battery percentage.

With iOS 16 developer beta 5, the battery percentage indicator in the status bar returns for the first time since 2018 — on some iPhones. The feature isn’t available on the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 mini, or iPhone 13 mini. This might be due to the devices’ screen size, but it’s more likely due to the fact that the screens do not have the resolution required to clearly display the battery percentage. This is because the battery percentage numerical is actually housed within the battery icon, which comes with its own issues. In order to show the percentage, the battery icon is completely full — all the time. That means even when an iPhone is on 1%, the icon appears full.

The battery percentage indicator isn’t enabled by default, and instead has to be manually turned on in the Settings app. This marks a return to how the battery percentage indicator used to function on much older versions of iOS. In earlier releases, the default battery indicator was an icon, and a battery percentage toggle could be switched on in Settings. There were other qualifications, too — enabling Low Power mode would automatically show the battery percentage in the status bar. It’s unclear if these functions will also return in iOS 16, and since this is just the first developer beta release to include the indicator, it is likely the feature will undergo some changes before a public release this fall.

Next: How To Create & Quickly Swap Lock Screens In iOS 16Source: Apple Developer, Apple Support

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