This long-lost iPhone feature is coming back with iOS 16 (but not on all iPhones)

iOS 16 Is Bringing Back a Fan Favorite iPhone Feature

Just a few more days until this simple but essential setting returns to iPhones everywhere.

Nelson Aguilar

Sept. 9, 2022 5:00 p.m. PT

 iPhone 14 at the Apple event in Cupertino, Calif.

Apple’s new mobile software brings back a favorite feature we love.

James Martin/CNET

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

iPhone users everywhere will be able to download iOS 16 on most iPhones beginning Monday, Sept. 12. The latest software comes with a slew of very cool new features — and one of them is a simple, but fantastically useful setting that lives right at the top of the screen. I’m not sure why Apple removed it, but I can’t wait to have it back.

I’m talking about the battery percentage meter. Stick with me now.

It’s well known that phone buyers prioritize battery life (and a 2022 Deloitte mobile trends survey is the latest to prove it). But five years ago, Apple removed the convenient battery meter option, which made it easy to see the exact status of your power reserves no matter what you’re doing. After a five-year hiatus, you’ll once again be able to check out your iPhone’s battery percentage in the status bar — from anywhere on your device. 

We’ll tell you what you need to know about this comeback feature in iOS 16, how to check your battery status now and why we like the returning feature better. Here’s what to know about new iPhone 14 features like the redesigned notch, or “Dynamic Island” and an always-on display.

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

iPhones used to include the exact percentage of your battery right on the status bar. But after the iPhone X release, 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.

Thankfully, iOS 16 reintroduces the battery percentage number back in the status bar, inside of the existing battery icon. Here’s what you need to know about the feature.

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

To view your battery percentage in the status bar on iOS 16, all you need to do is be on the latest iOS 16 public beta (3rd) or developer beta (5th).

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 starting 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

Unfortunately, the battery percentage option is not available on all iPhone models — for now, it’s not on the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 13 Mini (since the new iPhone 14 models aren’t on sale quite yet).

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