Battery percentage is finally returning to iOS 16 and it’s disgusting

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

Previously, the battery percentage appeared to the left of the battery icon. However, Apple started with the iPhone X and got rid of it because there wasn’t enough room thanks to the notch. To find the battery percentage, you currently have to swipe down to the Control Center. In iOS 16, it appears that Apple has “fixed” that problem Inside Battery icon.

(If you’ve updated to the latest version of the beta and don’t see it, it’s not enabled by default. To enable it, you’ll need to go to the battery menu in Settings and tweak the battery percentage. Also the option It seems not available On iPhone 11, iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini. This may change with future beta releases, but they’re on hiatus for now.)

It looks like a cataract — something you’d see on a 2011 phone. From a distance, it looks like a number on a sports jersey, and not in a good way. However, I recognize that this is my personal aesthetic taste. My biggest issue is that this new battery percentage count also has functionality issues.

Because the number appears inside the battery icon, it should appear fully charged at all times for readability. So, even if your phone has 10 percent battery left, the icon still looks full. Within hours of turning this feature on, it short-circuited my brain. A full battery icon that reads 55? It only evokes the visual cues we’re all used to.

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The whole purpose of the battery icon is to quickly understand at a glance how much juice you have left. Unfortunately, the “full” battery and tiny little numbers aren’t easy on the eyes. That’s especially true if you already have poor vision. 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 have some Focus Mode lock screens with light backgrounds. I can’t tell you how many times I misread the 50 percent battery as 5G instead.

It’s okay. I can never read this.
Screenshot: Victoria Song / The Verge

Compare all of these with the dead battery icon. Although the number icon doesn’t tell you exactly how much battery you have, it’s pretty easy to find the rough ballpark. It’s an intuitive design that needs no explanation. It’s a small consolation, but at least the battery icon changes colors when turning on low power mode or plugging in your phone. The former turns the icon yellow and the latter turns green with a lightning bolt icon next to it. (Charging happens to make the battery icon and numbers bigger and more readable! Why not do this in regular mode too?!)

It seems like Apple put us through this on purpose. The company is known for its meticulous control over product design — regardless of whether people like the changes it makes. (RIP headphone jack.) Apple decided with the iPhone X that it didn’t need the battery percentage in the status bar. This gave us what was considered a satisfactory solution with the control center. But we’ve all been clamoring for Apple to restore the battery percentage in the top-right corner of our phones, and this is what we got.

I’ll go back to turning off the battery percentage. The low battery icon works in most situations. The next time my battery is dangerously close to zero, I swipe down to Control Center and sigh wistfully at what could have been.

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