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Battery Percentage Is Finally Back in iOS 16 and It's Terrible

Battery Percentage Is Finally Back in iOS 16 and It's Terrible

Apple today released iOS 16 beta 5 and with it comes the long-awaited return of the battery percentage in the status bar. Unfortunately, it's ugly as hell and unreadable to boot.

Previously, the battery percentage used to appear to the left of the battery icon. However, Apple removed it starting with the iPhone X because it didn't have enough room to cram it in thanks to the notch. To know the battery percentage, you currently have to swipe down on the Control Center. In iOS 16, Apple's "resolved" that this figure appears within the battery icon.

(If you've updated to the latest version of the beta and don't see it, that's because it's not enabled by default. To turn it on, you'll need to go to the Battery menu in Settings and flip on the Battery percentage toggle This option also appears to be unavailable on the iPhone 11, iPhone 12 mini, and iPhone 13 mini. This may change with a future beta release, but that's on pause for now.)

It looks like an eyesore - something you'd see on a phone circa 2011. From afar, it looks like the number on a sports jersey, and not in a good way. However, I'll admit that it's my personal aesthetic taste. My biggest issue is that this new battery percentage figure has functional issues as well.

Since the number appears within the battery icon, it must be fully charged at all times for readability. So, even if your phone has 10 percent battery left, the icon still looks full. In the few hours I had this feature, it caused my brain to short circuit. A full battery icon that reads 55? It just affects the visual cues we've all become accustomed to.

The whole purpose of the battery icon is to quickly understand at a glance how much juice you have left. Unfortunately, "full" batteries and tiny little numbers aren't easy on the eyes. This is especially true if you already have poor eyesight. It doesn't help that the status bar is always hard to read if you use a light background. Of course, not everyone will have this problem. If you have 20/20 vision, it won't bother you much. I have severe astigmatism and nearsightedness, and some focus modes are lock screen with light background. I can't tell you how many times I misread the 50 percent battery figure instead of 5G.

Compare all this to the dwindling battery icon. While the numberless icon doesn't tell you how much battery you have left, it's so easy to figure out the rough ballpark. It's an intuitive design that hardly needs any explanation. It's a minor consolation, but at least the battery icon still changes color when you enable low-power mode or plug in your phone. The first turns the icon yellow, while the latter turns it green, with a lightning symbol next to it. (Charging also happens to make battery icons and numbers bigger, and thus, more readable! Why not do the same for regular mode?!)

It almost seems as though Apple subjected us to this purpose. The company is known for its meticulous control over product design - regardless of what changes people want to make. (RIP headphone jack.) Apple decided with the iPhone X that we didn't need the battery percentage in the status bar. This gave us what it considered a satisfactory solution with Control Center. But we all asked for Apple to restore battery percentage in the top right corner of our phones, and that's what we got.

I would probably go back to turning off the battery percentage. The depleting battery icon, after all, works in most situations. And the next time my battery drops dangerously close to zero, I'll let out a heavy sigh as I swipe down for Control Center, lamenting what could have happened.

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