The Much-Missed Battery Icon Has Returned in iOS 16. So Why Are iPhone Users Annoyed?


This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular product.

The iPhone used to show the percentage of battery left directly in the status bar, viewable from anywhere on your phone, which offered a handy way to quickly glance at your battery level — until Apple removed the feature with the release of the iPhone X. The reason? Apple needed to make room for the various sensors in the minimized notch at the time.

The battery icon was missed by many, and Apple reintroduced the battery percentage icon, albeit redesigned, with the release of iOS 16, which you can download right now. Many, including me, are happy about the resurrected battery indicator, but others are upset — in part because they won’t be receiving the battery icon on their phone, even if they update to iOS 16. Others are upset because they feel Apple could have done more to make the icon useful.

Read moreiOS 16 Won’t Run on Every iPhone. Will It Work on Yours?

However, the new battery percentage feature isn’t supported on every iPhone out there — for now. Apple just yesterday released iOS 16.1, which is currently only for developers, and it brings the battery percentage feature to every iPhone that runs iOS 16. Here’s what you need to know.

The Much-Missed Battery Icon Has Returned in iOS 16. So Why Are iPhone Users Annoyed? 1


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What’s the deal with the battery status meter on the iPhone?

iPhones used to include the exact percentage of your battery right in the status bar. But after the release of the iPhone X, which introduced the notch — the black bar at the top of your device that houses a speaker and camera — there wasn’t enough screen real estate left to keep the battery percentage in the status bar, so Apple nixed the feature.

Sure, you can swipe down from the top right of your iPhone to view the exact percentage in the Control Center, but that means you can’t glance at the battery percentage from within any app or from the home screen. And it’s nearly impossible to gauge the exact percentage from just the battery icon, which is not good if your iPhone is close to dying.

iOS 16 reintroduces the battery percentage number back in the status bar, inside of the existing battery icon.

Which iPhone models won’t be getting the battery percentage feature back?

Not all iPhone users with iOS 16 will see the new battery percentage feature in the status bar, which is frustrating for some. Although there hasn’t been an official statement as to why certain models are excluded from the feature, it seems to be because of lower pixel density for some of the devices, and lack of space for others.

According to this Apple support page, the following models don’t support the feature:

The only way you can view your battery percentage on iPhones that don’t support the new feature is to either add a battery widget to your lock screen/home screen or swipe down from the top right of your iPhone to view the battery percentage next to the battery icon (instead of inside it).

However, the new battery percentage feature will come to the iPhone XR, iPhone 11 and iPhone Minis with iOS 16.1, which was released Wednesday for developers. You can check out how to download it here, but it should be pushed out to the general public soon enough.

Even some people who do have the feature are frustrated with its design 

To top it off, not everyone is happy with the design of the new battery percentage design. Although the battery percentage itself is always visible in the status bar on supported devices, the battery icon itself always shows as full, whether the phone is idle, charging or on low power mode — only the color changes. So it can be a bit confusing if you just glance at it.

The only time the design really changes is when the battery reaches 20% or less — the battery icon then shows as depleted, or about a fifth full, and turns red. 

On Twitter, Mikael Johansson created a mockup that shows the battery icon changing along with the percentage. Thousands of people have liked the tweet and many have agreed it’s an improvement over the current design.

How to get the battery percentage back in the status bar on iOS 16

Regardless of your thoughts on the design, you should at least take a chance on the battery percentage feature if your iPhone supports it.

To view your battery percentage in the status bar of your iPhone, all you need to do is upgrade to iOS 16. You can wait for your iPhone to alert you with a pop-up notice, or force an update manually by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

Once you update, you should see the percentage in the battery icon in the top-right corner of your screen — from anywhere on your iPhone. That way you can keep a close eye on when your iPhone is topped off or close to running out of battery, and when you should start charging it.

Although the setting is turned on by default, you can go to Settings > Battery and toggle on the Battery Percentage option to make sure it works. When your device is charging, the battery icon will turn completely green, showing you the percentage, while being in Low Power Mode will turn the battery icon completely yellow, but again with the percentage inside.

Battery Percentage feature on iOS 16

If you toggle the Battery Percentage feature off, you’ll remove the numbers from the status bar and revert back to the old battery icon design.


Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Preorders for iPhone 14 are open, and the phone itself will be available Friday, Sept. 16. For more, learn everything Apple unveiled at its “Far Out” event last week.



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