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What Is Background App Refresh on iPhone and Android?

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Background app refresh is an essential function for both Android and iPhone phones. We’re here to help you understand this term if you’ve heard it.

Let’s take a look at background app refresh, what it does, and how you can change its behavior.

What is Background App Refresh?

Background app refresh allows apps to access the internet and update their content even when you aren’t using them. We disagree and say that apps place data in the background when you open them and then use them.

Background app refresh can be useful because it makes apps easier to use, but it also has some negative side effects.

What does Background App Refresh do?

Background refresh allows apps to run all kinds of functions in the background. This is a great alternative to having to open an app to access them. What does background app refresh do? These are just a few examples of actions that background app refresh can handle without you needing to manually verify:

  • News apps pull the most recent headlines and update them when you open them
  • Apps that track mobile data usage collect background information
  • Cloud storage services automatically sync your files
  • Apps for grocery stores detect when you are in a store and prepare the most recent digital coupons
  • Twitter and other social media apps preload the most recent tweets, so you don’t have to wait until they arrive.

You should note that apps you have closed using the app switcher may not update until you open them again. This is just one reason that you shouldn’t swipe to kill all of your apps .

Notifications are not affected by background app refresh for most apps. You can disable this feature for messaging apps like WhatsApp, and you will still receive notifications whenever you receive a new message. This is not the case with Android. We’ll explain why.

Do I need to use Background App Refresh?

Background app refresh is usually convenient. There are two main reasons you might want it to be disabled.

The first is that background app refresh is enabled by default on both Wi-Fi and mobile data connections. Apps can consume a lot of data in the background. This can lead to extra charges on your bill if you have a limited data plan.

Battery life is another reason to disable background app refresh. Background apps use battery power in the same way as when they are running in the foreground. You don’t want your battery to be wasted on background tasks if you want to extend the life of your device’s battery.

It’s up to you to decide which apps require background app refresh. It is best to keep background app refresh enabled for all apps that you use often and to disable it for those you don’t open as often.

Both iOS and Android allow you to turn off background app refresh and modify it. Let’s look at how you can do this.

How to turn off background app refresh on iPhone

You can change the apps that run in the background of your iPhone by going to Settings >General > Background App Refresh. This will display a list all the background apps that are installed on your iPhone.

You can disable the slider in an app and it will stop updating in the background. To check for updated information, you will need to open the app. This is not recommended for apps that rely on current content.

To change the global operation of the function, tap the Background app Refresh button at the top. Apps will refresh on any network if WiFi and Cellular Data are selected. If you do not want apps to check for new content using mobile data, you can choose WiFi. This is a good choice if your cellular plan is limited.

To prevent apps from refreshing in the background, you can also select Off. While this will help save battery, it can make apps less useful so be careful.

iPhone has Low Power Mode and Cellular Access

You should also be aware of two other iPhone options that relate to background app refresh.

The Low-Power Mode is one. It limits your iPhone’s processes to conserve battery. You can find it under Settings > Batterie, or by using the Control Center shortcut.

Low Power Mode reduces the brightness of your iPhone, disables email push, and shuts off background app refresh completely. If you want to conserve battery life, it’s easier to enable Low Power Mode than to disable background refresh. Background refresh will be turned back on if you turn off Low Power Mode.

In the Settings>> Cellular menu you can disable the slider to block any app from using cellular data. This allows data-hungry apps to not use too much data during background app refresh but still allows other apps to benefit from the function on mobile data.

How to turn off background app refresh on Android

Android does not have a feature called “background app refresh”; this term is for iPhones. Android has options that achieve almost the same functions. The location and name of the option will vary depending on your device. These instructions are for stock Android 12 on a Pixel smartphone.

To stop an app from using mobile data while it is running, go to Settings >Apps ( Apps & Notifications for older versions) > View all X apps. Select the app you wish to disable background app refresh.

You have two options to disable background activity in Android from this menu. To stop the app from using your mobile data in the background, choose Mobile Data & Wi-Fi to disable the Backgrounddata slider.

This will stop the app from using mobile data when you are not using it in the background. Background Wi-Fi usage is not affected.

Another option is to stop the app from running in the background. To do so, tap Batterie in the app’s Settings page. It’s located under the Advanced section of Android 11 or older.

To stop the app from using too much power in the background, tap Background restriction on Android 11 or older. For Android 12, select the Restricted choice here.

This does not affect notifications, unlike the iPhone’s background application refresh feature. You should limit battery usage to apps you don’t use for real-time notifications.

Android Account Sync, Battery Saver, and Individual App Options

You should also be aware that there are other options for background app refresh on Android.

All your internet accounts that are synced with Android are kept separate in Settings. To see them, go to Settings >Accounts or Passwords and Accounts for Android 12. To review and adjust what syncs, tap an account and choose Account sync. You might be able to stop the service from synching your files and contacts all the time.

You can take a more drastic approach and disable the Automatically synchronize app data slider located at the bottom left of the main screen. Accounts will then sync only when you manually trigger a refresh.


Many Android phones include an option called Batteries Saver, or something similar. It is located under Options > Battery. The Battery Saver option is similar to Low Power Mode for iPhone. It prevents apps from running in the background and conserves as much juice as possible. An adaptive battery setting may also be available. This allows you to control how much battery apps use depending on how often you use them.

If none of these options restrict background app refresh in a way that you prefer, it is worth looking at the individual settings within your apps. Many apps allow you to control how often your feed syncs and new emails are fetched. An app might allow you to disable one behavior.

Now you understand Background App Refresh

Background app refresh is a different feature on Android and iPhone, but it’s still a useful feature that allows apps to stay current even when they’re not being used. This is a great feature, but you can also disable background refresh to stop apps using too much data or battery.

Although it’s disappointing that smartphones have such a short battery life, there are ways to increase it.

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