Some iPhone owners are reporting that iOS 13 closes background apps too aggressively

David Matthews

Posts: 396   +75
Staff member

There have many reports across the Internet with iPhone owners bemoaning how aggressive iOS 13 is closing apps in the background. Reddit, Twitter, and even Apple's official support forums are replete with frustrated owners complaining about the issue. MacRumors listed quite a few quotes from people on its site as well.

iOS 12 was perfect and [I] miss it for the main reason that any time I use the app switcher to go back to my previous app such as Safari or Instagram or Facebook or anything really, the app refreshes. Back in iOS 12 I could go back [to] multiple app[s] and it wouldn't refresh. It was perfect. I'm running on an iPhone 7 Plus if it makes any difference but feel it shouldn't.

I was watching a video in YouTube on my iPhone 11 Pro. I pause the video to respond to a text message. I was in iMessage for less than one minute. When I returned to YouTube it reloaded the app and I lost the video I was watching. I noticed this a lot on my iPad Pro too. Apps and Safari tabs reloading a lot more frequently than they did in iOS 12. Very annoying.

I was working on a spreadsheet in Excel and I switched to a YouTube video for like 10 mins or so and when I switched back, the app was no longer in memory. Not just that, it also flushed all Safari tabs out of memory too. None of the games are staying in memory after 20 mins.

Developers have chimed in as well with similar complaints:

This phenomenon is pretty interesting considering that while iPhones have never had much RAM, the memory management in iOS was generally good enough to keep recent apps in memory. Additionally, these issues aren't limited to older iPhones with smaller RAM. Owners of the recent iPhone 11 and 11 Pro have also reported issues.

One reason why iOS may be so aggressive with kicking out background apps may simply be battery life. Even so, people are reporting apps being closed even if they were the last used application. Users are losing whole emails because their email client was closed after simply switching to a different application like Spotify or YouTube.

One common thread seems to be the camera. Due to the higher levels of computational photography (particularly in the newer iPhones), the camera app seems to be a major RAM hog which subsequently causes iOS to kick out other apps. That might explain why even the iPhone 11 Pro with 4GB of RAM still aggressively kicks out background apps.

The latest version of Apple's vaunted mobile operating system received an update to iOS 13.1 just five days later after iOS 13.0 was released on September 19th. This was followed by 13.1.1 and 13.1.2. While new features such as AirPod audio sharing came with the updates, most of it served to fix bugs that were prevalent throughout the OS. Hopefully, Apple comes out with a software fix for the memory management issues.

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Posts: 2,048   +1,422
They should have went with 6GB in the 11 and 8GB in the 11 Pro.

How much would that really move up the price on these already high priced phones.

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,624   +1,684
TechSpot Elite
It's not the RAM and it's not the camera. It's for battery life and it's working too aggressively. I have a 7+ and simply stopping a podcast for a couple of minutes to do something else not on the phone will unload the app.

Like this: Overcast is playing audio. Pause. Do something else while phone locks itself or you lock phone. Unlock phone 2-3 min later. You get the Home screen, not the Overcast app you were previously using.

Now, usually I can unpause what I was listening to without unlocking the phone but it seems not always. I'll pay closer attention to the timeout for unpause, I bet it's less than 5 minutes.

This is a stupid battery saving trick which Apple will reverse if/when enough people complain.
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Posts: 2,052   +2,596
It's entirely a software problem. Tons of suspects from the peanut gallery shout out "muh RAM" without checking to see that it affects all iOS devices running the latest iOS 13, and doesnt affect the same hardware running iOS 12.

I've been really disappointing with apple this generation. The iphone 11 hardware is great, but the software has been a bug filled mess that makes the pixel look stable.


Posts: 3,889   +1,789
I don't really care if it's software, A phone costing as much as an iPhone should have more RAM than 4GB. Budget phones have more RAM and can keep more apps open at once than a quadruple the price iPhone.
They could at least give an option, "Keep more Apps in memory" or "Save Battery by Auto-closing Apps running in the background".

Very interesting that the Camera app specifically closes all background Apps though, if it's battery saving tech, then it shows using the Camera must have a very significant effect on battery life. Or if it's a RAM issue, I guess they'll need to spend that extra $0.12 on a tiny bit of extra RAM in the future.

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Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,624   +1,684
TechSpot Elite
More RAM also wastes more battery to power that RAM. Apple clearly has made the choice that less RAM along with better RAM management is better overall, and iPhone performance numbers appear to support that strategy.

But they seem to have screwed that up with programming bugs/errors like this one. Since it's a software problem, they can fix it. We'll see how long that takes.
I just found out that the iOS13 broke the support for my audio interface that is class compliant. I mean the Line6 - Sonic Port, it works fine on my older device with iOS 11 and it was working fine on my Iphone 8 with iOS 12, but on iOS13 I get only weird noise out of it. It's 100% iOS issue here ! Did anyone had the same issue?


Posts: 289   +186
They should have went with 6GB in the 11 and 8GB in the 11 Pro.

How much would that really move up the price on these already high priced phones.
They should have went and test updates before they release them.
Apple updates are certainly trying hard to reach Windows 10 status of "nooooo! not another update! what a hell they destryed this time?".


Posts: 9   +11
So I can add tons of feedback on this. I'm a double phone user. I've always used Iphone and Android for the last 5+ years due to my corporate liking the iOS platform (preferred anyway). Recently while offroading I placed my Pixel 3 XL on my UTV and it went to a far away place (RIP). I miss my google phone, and people tended to complain about that and I literally had less issues with that phone at the time. Anyway onto the the Iphone experience I've had for the past few months.

I traded up my corporate use Iphone 6S to the XR. What a experience its been the last 3 months using this device. These problems existed in iOS 12 and 13 keep this in mind. I tend to have a conclusion to apples famed battery life and it simply comes down to close everything out of the background, including Facebook and twitter. I haven't found a single application within a 5-10m time frame that the phone literally hasn't unloaded out of the background. On paper its not a big deal as this phone simply works and its fast, but there is issues here. One issue, the Nest application, its horrible. Each time the system unloads this application into memory and relaunches it struggles and even hangs on gaining data / gps data back. I for the most part have to force close the application out each time and re-open to make it function properly (this a daily / multiple time a day issue). Next issue navigation, lets say I decide to use google maps and navigate somewhere and then pause for a moment or even have the phone lose data (LTE) it for some reasons, even wiping and resetting this phone clean slate, will cause it to not hook GPS / Data again in the application forcing me to reload the app and start over on my navigation. This is a bad deal due to the fact if I'm already navigating that means I'm driving, distracted now at that. Then the rest of the system acts the same way with other application but they load like normal for the most part.

Then there's Apple Car Play, oh yes, car play. I drive a 17 Kia Niro. My pixel 3 XL (2 XL, and OG XL) all worked flawlessly outside of android beta that I participate in causing problems (self inflected). My android auto never once locked up, crashed, lost data / gps, it was perfect. The only obvious I had was slow data connections with music streaming, but wasn't a huge deal as I got a Sirius subscription anyway. This iphone again struggled all the time (new car play update / old car play) keeping things working. I've had moments where literally both maps applications decided to just stop on me, lose gps and data and the whole car play application crapped itself forcing me to reboot my iphone / unplug and plugin again. I would give Siri a 4/10 on usability half the time even with my voice trained and function. Half the time due to data constraints while driving its never available and when it is, I find my self correcting more than anything due to its terrible dictation / application hooks. The theme continues to other applications. Again this persisted after wiping my phone to clean again and iOS 12 and 13 (new and old car play). I even tested my friends iphone 8 on my car and it did the same thing (could be my Kia, but again remember my Android Auto on my pixel never did this, even my wife's essential doesn't do this.

One thing I will say is the battery life is pretty OP, most of the days I get 6-7 hours of SOT, but to put this is retrospec, I think its because how agressive iOS is killing background stuff constantly. I'm pretty sure if google was as hard pressed in killing its own google services and other application most of these android phones would probably obtain 6+ hours SOT constantly regardless of 2700MAH or not.


Posts: 1,200   +738
My company contributes towards a mobile app on both Android and Apple. We knew that iOS13 would be a massive problem due to how it manages apps running in the background - basically it's going to make the app unworkable on Apple devices as our app is designed to work quietly in the background. iOS13 is incredibly aggressive and I believe it's done for battery-saving reasons. We have also experienced various bugs in the iOS13.x betas and have informed Apple. We are small fry without any huge clout but hopefully enough companies will complain and force Apple to reconsider.


Posts: 370   +254
I get issues where iOS software just hangs - especially in the browser. I'll be surfing Google or a one-off website and the tap sensors stop registering. I'm forced to close all apps and re-open my browsing sessions. Quite annoying.