background app refresh

Background App Refresh – A Detailed Overview


Modern-day smartphones are loaded with features that significantly enhance user experience. These mobile devices are personalized tools that allow us to easily fulfill any objective. From staying connected with our peers to accessing the internet, all this is now possible with a single click. The Background App Refresh option makes this aspect attainable by constantly updating applications. However, catering to these diverse mobile activities drains a lot of mobile data and batteries in the long run. 

Let’s go down the rabbit hole and find relevant answers to the fundamental question, “What does Background App Refresh mean?”

What is Background App Refresh?

From receiving Estimate Time of Arrival updates on Google Maps to Spotify alerts about a new music album launch, the Background App Refresh feature effectively executes all these aspects. The option allows idle applications [when not in use] in the background to implement upgrades and alert the user about the new amenities. 

However, additional data and batteries are consumed to fulfill this objective. This is the primary reason why mobile phone users may prefer to deactivate this setting in the long run. 

What does Background App Refresh do?

The option of Background App Refresh is available for both Android and iPhone devices. Inactive applications can effectively streamline their content and notify the user about the latest amenities. The feature enhances user experience as all applications are updated and ready to be used at any point in time. The Background App Refresh function periodically checks for new data launched by every mobile application, which is then updated accordingly. The feature is activated when the mobile device is not in use and works optimally when connected to Wi-Fi.

With this feature, users no longer need to keep an application open to track notifications and updates. Your smartphone phone will take care of that for you. However, the Background App Refresh option consumes considerable power as it constantly scans inactive apps for upgrades. Additionally, activating the Background App Refresh option demands 3-5 MB of data every hour, which complies with a substantial amount at the end of the month. 

Mobile phone users can customize this feature to only track and monitor specific applications that are most preferred. Manually updating the settings can assist users in managing data and battery life simultaneously.

Should I Use a Background App Refresh?

The Background App Refresh feature upgrades content listed on mobile applications, to enhance the convenience factor for every user. However, the feature demands additional data and battery to function efficiently.

Constantly updating applications that deal with video, audio, and text-related content requires a significant amount of data. This is precisely why users who do not have access to Wi-Fi prefer to update or entirely switch off the Background App Refresh setting. Individuals working with a fixed data plan must manage their data consumption habits effectively to avoid extra charges. 

The additional data consumed with the activated setting can burn through your data allowance at an alarming rate. Moreover, the overall battery capacity is also affected as the applications are streamlined in the background.

Therefore, it is imperative that users consider customizing the Background App Refresh feature, restricting it only to specific applications that the user prefers. Implementing this strategy will allow individuals to conserve data and battery power in the long run. Thankfully, both Android and iPhone devices allow users to customize the Background App Refresh feature. Follow the steps mentioned below to personalize Background App Refresh settings.

Also Read: Download Limit: Learn to Easily Manage Your Mobile Data

How to Turn Off Background App Refresh on iPhone?

The general audience believes in the misconception that applications start running as they actively start to use the app. However, that is not the case, as the iPhone Background App Refresh feature constantly works on an application and keeps it functional even when the device is not in use. 

This is the foremost reason people view fresh content whenever they open an application. Social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc., use this feature the most and consequently consume more data. All the new tweets, posts, and updates are pushed on top as soon as the concerned application is accessed.

Moreover, storage applications such as Google Drive, Google Photos, and iDrive also sync new photos and files automatically. The Background App Refresh feature continues to operate even when these applications do not offer new information or content. All iPhones are high-powered devices that demand a lot of battery to function. The additional power requirement of the Background App Refresh feature can critically affect the phone’s battery life.

Thankfully, the Background App Refresh option can be updated and customized according to the independent needs of a user. People can also customize the setting where the Background App Refresh feature is only activated when connected to Wi-Fi.

Simple steps for iOS

Follow the steps highlighted below to switch off Background App Refresh iPhone:

  • Step 1: Unlock the iPhone and navigate to the primary Settings application.
  • Step 2: Now click on the “General” option.
  • Step 3: Users will be able to view a list of every application installed on the concerned device.
  • Step 4: Toggle the applications “Off” that you no longer wish to work with the refresh setting.

To disable the Background App Refresh feature entirely for applications, click the “Off” button highlighted at the General page. Users may also select the “Wi-Fi Only” option to access and use the Background App Refresh feature only when connected to Wi-Fi.

Low power mode and cellular access on iPhone/Android

There are two additional options that determine and influence the Background App Refresh setting on a mobile device. The first is Low Power Mode, which restricts a phone’s ability to manage and save data effectively. Cellular access is the second option to consider that successfully disables the slider for a particular application.

Activating the Low Power Mode reduces overall brightness, deactivates automatic email pushes, and automatically switches off the feature. Therefore, activating the Low Power Mode is recommended for users looking to conserve data for a short time. The feature is consequently reactivated when the Low Power Mode is turned off.

On the other hand, updating the cellular access feature disables the application slider feature to effectively manage cellular data. This is a concrete solution for individuals looking to manage data consumption through Background App Refresh required by data-hungry applications. Users must also ensure to check the independent app settings to effectively manage data and battery in the long run. Collaborating with the best carrier network and offering data plans at reasonable rates is a relevant solution to all data management worries.

How do I Turn off Background App Refresh on Android?

Android phones do not offer users an exact Background App Refresh option, as the feature is primarily restricted to iOS devices. However, Android does work with similar features that offer identical functions. Users can incorporate the following measures to turn off Background App Refresh on Android.

Independent App Option

Users can deactivate the feature by independently selecting the applications for which they do not wish to receive updated content and notifications. Follow these steps to deactivate:

  • Step 1: Unlock the Android device and navigate to the primary “Settings” app.
  • Step 2: Click on Apps and Notifications.
  • Step 3: Select the apps that you no longer wish to update.
  • Step 4: Select the preferred mode for the feature – Only Wi-Fi, Only Mobile data, or both.
  • Step 5: Turn the sliders off to disable the settings.

It is recommended to work with the “Only Wi-Fi” option so that no loss of data is incurred while updating the applications working in the background. By implementing this setting, users can manage data and work on background app updates while being connected to Wi-Fi simultaneously.

Account Sync

The feature can be disabled by changing the Account Sync setting on Android devices as well. Follow these steps to update:

  • Step 1: Unlock the Android device and navigate to the primary “Settings” app.
  • Step 2: Navigate to the Password and Accounts section.
  • Step 3: Select the Account Sync option under this banner.
  • Step 4: Select the “Individual Sync Account” option and choose the items you no longer wish to sync.
  • Step 5: Users may also disable the syncing option entirely, which should be at the bottom of the page. Activating this option requires the users to sync all the data manually.

Battery Saver 

All Android devices are equipped with a battery saver mode that allows the user to conserve power in the long run. Activating this setting restricts the feature for the applications running in the background. Users may also choose to activate the more advanced Adaptive Battery function, which monitors application behavior and then allocates power amenities to independent apps based on the requirement.

Interesting Read: How to Make Your Phone Battery Last Longer: 10 Solid Tips


The Background App Refresh is an essential feature that helps to enhance user experience. Some applications require constant support from this feature to function effectively. However, the decision to work with this option entirely depends on the user concerned. Overall, the advantages of this feature outweigh its minor limitations.

Staying aware of your surroundings with regard to global news, weather reports, shipping details, and social media posts is essential to stay relevant in the digital world. However, additional assistance from the best carrier network must be offered so that users can effectively manage and allocate data.

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What happens if I turn off background app refresh?

Users will be able to use every mobile application as they are intended to be. Turning it off does not mean that the users will no longer be able to receive updates and notifications. It only hinders the applications from being automatically updated.

Therefore, users must actively use an application and manually refresh the feed to access fresh content. We recommend activating the feature for specific apps that assist individuals in achieving professional commitments. 

What happens if I turn off background app refresh for WhatsApp?

The feature does not affect the notification settings on iPhone. However, activating this feature on Android devices does affect messenger notifications. The users may receive delayed notifications and updates but will be able to save battery and data in the long run. Therefore, we recommend users actively use the app update option for WhatsApp and other messenger apps to effectively receive updates throughout.

What is background activity on an iPhone?

Background Activity conventionally indicates the additional battery and data used when an app runs in the background, such as tracking location and playing music. When an application is not actively being used, the feature notifies the user of the latest content.

Which background apps should I keep on?

People must analyze their individual application use patterns to effectively determine the apps they no longer wish to receive automatic updates and notifications from. We recommend working with the feature for applications a user frequently accesses.

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