Why and how to turn off Background App Refresh on iPhone & iPad

You can turn off Background App Refresh on your iPhone or iPad to save cellular data and extend the battery life.

In this tutorial, we’ll tell you what Background App Refresh is and how to disable it for all apps or only selected apps. Plus, we’ll show you how to turn it off only for cellular data or for both cellular data and Wi-Fi.

Background App Refresh in iPhone settings

What is Background App Refresh on iPhone and iPad?

Background App Refresh on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is designed to permit apps to check for new content in an intelligent and controlled manner, even when they’re not running or showing on the screen.

With background fetching, your favorite apps are always fresh and ready for the next launch with up-to-date content. For instance, Twitter may fetch new tweets in the background; Facebook Messenger may load new messages and their attachments so that they’re there as soon as you launch the app; a cloud storage app may retrieve newly uploaded files, etc. That way, apps launch faster and open with the freshest content.

Why should you disable Background App Refresh on iPhone and iPad?

With Background App Refresh enabled, apps are permitted to refresh content all the time constantly. This uses the internet and depletes the battery. Therefore, to save cellular data and extend your battery backup, you can turn off Background App Refresh on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Note: Background App Refresh is automatically paused temporarily as long as your iPhone or iPad is in Low Power Mode.

How to turn off Background App Refresh on iPhone and iPad

For all apps

  1. Open the Settings app and go to General.
  2. Tap Background App Refresh.
  3. Tap Background App Refresh once again. From here, select:
    • Off: To disable background content fetching for all apps and on both Wi-Fi and cellular data.
    • Wi-Fi: If you want Background App Refresh to happen only on Wi-Fi, tap Wi-Fi.
    • Wi-Fi & Cellular Data: Finally, if you want to keep Background App Refresh enabled for all apps on both Wi-Fi and mobile data, go ahead and select Wi-Fi & Cellular Data.
Turn off Background App Refresh on iPhone

For selected apps

As mentioned, Background App Refresh saves data and battery. Therefore, you’ll be inclined to turn it off completely. However, with some apps like WhatsApp, this can cause a problem and lead to delayed notifications for new messages. WhatsApp even goes a step further and asks you to turn on Background App Refresh if you turn it off.

WhatsApp asking users to enable Background App Refresh on iPhone

Similarly, at times, some widgets, like Weather, may not show the updated information if Background App Refresh is off.

Therefore, you can choose to turn off Background App Refresh for all apps except a few, like WhatsApp and Weather. I have done this on my iPhone. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to General > Background App Refresh.
  2. Make sure it says On or Wi-Fi next to Background App Refresh. If it’s Off, tap it and choose Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi & Cellular Data. What these do is already explained in the above heading.
  3. Scroll down the list of apps and turn off the switch for those apps for which you want to disable Background App Refresh.
Enable Background App Refresh for selected apps and turn it off for all other apps

I know many users who leave it off all the time. Are you among that group, and why?

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