iOS 16 Brings Back a Long-Missed Battery Feature on the iPhone

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

As long as you have a compatible iPhone, you can now download iOS 16. Released yesterday, the latest version of the iPhone operating system software adds a bevy of excellent new features — and brings back one that users have missed for years. I’m not sure why Apple removed it, but I’m sure glad 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 can once again see 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.

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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 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 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

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. Pre-orders for iPhone 14 have already begun, and the phone itself will be available Friday, Sept. 16.

For more, learn everything Apple unveiled at its “Far Out” event last week.