Does Having a Phone Key Connected All the Time Drain Battery?

Does Having a Phone Key Connected All the Time Drain Battery?

Tesla vehicles support three types of keys namely phone key, key card, and key fob.

  • Tesla already provides a key card that communicates with your Tesla vehicle using short range radio frequency identification (RFID) signals.
  • The key fob, on the other hand, allows you to press buttons to open the front and rear trunks and unlock, lock, and drive your tesla vehicle. The key fob also supports automatic locking and unlocking.
  • And then there is the phone key. The phone key is the most popular of all Tesla keys simply because of its convenience. Instead of strutting around with a key fob or key card, you can easily use your phone which you always have on you anyway, to open your Tesla vehicle.

However, you, like many other Tesla owners, may be wondering if using the phone key and having it connected all the time drains the phone battery.

There has been a lot of conflicting information about this, and I will put all the questions and confusion to bed in this article using well researched, and accurate data.

Does Having a Phone Key Connected All the Time Drain Battery?

No, having a phone key connected all the time does not drain the phone battery. You need to understand that having the phone key connected all the time is not some special setting only your phone. It simply means that you have the Tesla app running in the background by not swiping it away from recent items.

As a matter of fact, your phone will still work as a phone key for your Tesla even if you completely close the Tesla app. The only caveat is that:

  1. There may be occasions where your phone may not unlock your Tesla because the Tesla mobile app did not wake up properly from background
  2. Your Tesla app received an update that enforces having it running in the background. So, when you swipe the app away from recent items, you will see a notification saying that you should keep the Tesla app running in the background for the best phone key experience.


However, you may already be aware that the phone key requires Bluetooth and location services to work properly. Now, you only need to turn on these services when you need to use your phone as a phone key for your Tesla. So, as long as you don’t have location services and Bluetooth always turned on on your phone, you would not have any significant battery drainage.

The battery drainage problem only arises if you leave location services and Bluetooth turned on even when you are not using your phone as a phone key for Tesla. So, it’s best practice to turn off these two features when they are not in use.

  • But having the Tesla app alone running in the background all the time does not drain your phone’s battery and that’s all there is to it.

Does Tesla App Drain Phone Battery?

No and yes.

No, because it does not drain the phone battery any more than any other application does.

Yes, because it uses battery power every time you use the application. Which is just the same with every other app on your phone.

In fact, I wouldn’t use the word “drain”. I would just say that it consumes battery power just like any other application. The only time that you could use the word drain is if you use the app in combination with location services and Bluetooth when using your phone as a phone key for your Tesla vehicle.

Other than that, Tesla app does not drain phone battery. You don’t even need to swipe it away from recent items when you’re not using it because it does consume significant battery power in the background. Also, all modern smartphones are optimised to minimise the battery draw of applications when they are not in active use.

Should I Close the Tesla App?

No, there is absolutely no need to close the Tesla app when you are not using it. You simply need to navigate away from it and switch to other applications or just lock your phone.

As long as the Tesla app is not in active use, it is not taking up any significant battery power on your phone. As a matter of fact, and just as i mentioned earlier, you may even receive a prompt by the app not to close it if you want to continue enjoying a seamless experience using your phone as a phone key.

Of course you can ignore this and close the app anyway, but the bottom line is that you really do not need to close the app completely especially if draining the battery is your concern.

Tesla Background App Refresh

Whenever the subject of an app draining phone battery comes up, the term “background refresh” is always a huge subject of debate. What is background refresh? How does it affect applications on battery use? And, more importantly, how does it affect the performance of the Tesla app? Here’s all you need to know.

  1. Background refresh is a feature on Android and iPhones that keeps the phone working actively in the background, accessing the Internet and any other integrating component to continue to refresh its data (get new data). In simple terms, background refresh means that the application is constantly listening for connection requests even when it is not open on the screen.
  2. In terms of its effect on battery use, this is the simple fact: background refresh impact depends on the generation of the phone. For older smartphones, background refresh consumes a lot more battery power when turned on than when turned off. For newer smartphones, background refresh has very minimal impact on battery use. This is because modern smartphones are optimised to ensure that only the necessary modules of the application are running to receive only the necessary new data.
  3. For the Tesla mobile app, background refresh is necessary to enable it to communicate with Tesla servers for updates, and with your Tesla vehicle. This background refresh does not drain the battery on your phone.

However, if you are using an older smartphone and find it absolutely necessary to disable background refresh – which I strongly recommend against – then follow the steps below:

On iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app and scroll down
  2. Choose the General option, then select Background app refresh
  3. Now in this menu, if you don’t want to turn off background app refresh entirely, then you could tap the button to the right of individual apps to turn off background app refresh. So, you can do so for the Tesla app.
  4. If you do want to turn off background app refresh entirely, then you’re going to touch the Background app refresh button at the top of the screen and select the Off option

For Android

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Then, go to About phone
  3. Then go to Software Information
  4. Now, locate Build Number and tap on it about seven times in order to activate the Developer options
  5. Once the developer option is activated, go back to the previous screen twice until you are back on Settings.
  6. Now, scroll down and at the bottom, you will be able to see Developer options
  7. Open it and scroll down
  8. Under apps, you will find Background process limit and select this option
  9. Again, if you want to stop the background app refresh for all the applications, then you have to select No background process
  10. If you want to stop the background app refresh for Tesla app alone, then go back to Background process limit and select Standard Limit
  11. Then go to Background Check. Here, you can see the applications for which the background app refresh is enabled. Select to turn off background refresh for the Tesla mobile app.
Brady Klinger-Meyers is an experienced writer and marketer with who currently writes for Teslord as well as other popular sites like MakeUseOf and Techzillo. At Teslords, he focuses on general Tesla advice with his interest being accessories and gadgets. Read our Editorial Guidelines and Fact Checking process.


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