In this article we’ll see how wireless networks drain your battery of smartphone. A modern smartphone carries a lot of wireless technologies “on board”, and they all need power. Some users even turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or NFC when not in use. Let’s see how much energy these modules actually consume and whether it makes sense to constantly turn them off.
- Night Consumption
- Wi-Fi or 4G
- Bluetooth vs Wired Headphones
- What About NFC and Geolocation?
- The Bottom Line
First, let’s find out how much the main wireless consumers “eat” when you sleep. All tests were carried out on the OnePlus Nord smartphone (8/128 GB, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, LTE, 4G, battery – 4115 mAh), which recently received an update to the current Android 11. According to the AccuBattery Pro app, battery condition – 93% or 3 847 mAh. Installed 52 third-party applications, among which about a dozen consistently send notifications (social networks and instant messengers). In short, the average device of an ordinary person.
The device was tested in standby mode from 23:00 to 7:00, that is, exactly eight hours. In the first case, all wireless networks were turned off. On the second night, the smartphone was connected to a home Wi-Fi network of the 5 GHz range, and via Bluetooth it was paired with an Amazfit GTS smartwatch.
NFC and geolocation were included, as well as a “do not disturb” mode so that notifications did not interrupt the author’s sleep.
As a result, we find out that the “active” smartphone was discharged by only 1% more. During these eight hours, six notifications came from instant messengers. Sleep mode works quite efficiently.
Wi-Fi or 4G
Unlimited tariffs from operators have become more affordable. Many do not use Wi-Fi on their phones at all, preferring mobile Internet. It is believed that the latter discharges the smartphone much faster. Let’s check it out in practice. Let’s see how efficiently the modem of a modern processor works on the example of the Snapdragon 765G, released last year.
We run a test video with a duration of one hour. Let’s fix the brightness at the level of 30%. In the first case, the phone uses a 4G signal, in the second, the already mentioned 5 GHz Wi-Fi network.
As you can see, cellular data really consumes more energy: in a relatively small segment we get 7% versus 5% for Wi-Fi. The difference in the discharge rate is visible even on the standard Android graph: the flat curve after switching to 4G dramatically rushes down.
And this is in ideal conditions, when the smartphone is in one place. If you use 4G outdoors, while constantly moving, the modem will connect to different cell towers and consume even more battery.
True, in the case of Wi-Fi, a similar situation is possible: for example, in a large shopping center, when the phone will periodically lose its signal and connect to several access points in the building.
The conclusion is obvious – it’s better to use Wi-Fi at home. It not only consumes less battery, but is also much more stable in signal strength and latency. Of course, this is true, provided you have a good router.
Bluetooth Vs Wired Headphones
Wireless headsets have gained in popularity over the past couple of years. Due to the fact that affordable models have appeared within a couple of thousand rubles, people have become much more willing to get rid of wires. But how much more power does a wireless headset drain your phone compared to traditional tailed headphones? Let’s find out. As a wireless option, let’s take an inexpensive TWS solution from Xiaomi – Mi True Wireless Earbuds.
They will be opposed by reinforcing Xiaomi Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro HD with an adapter to Type-C, since the tested phone does not have a 3.5 mm jack.
We run the same video a couple of times, fix the volume at 50%. As you might expect, the consumption is higher with wireless headphones: some of the energy is spent on operating the module responsible for the wireless connection between devices and maintaining communication between them.
Despite the presence of Bluetooth 5.0 in wireless headphones, which promises reduced power consumption in comparison with the fourth version, they cannot compete with the “tailed” brother. On a short distance, energy consumption is almost 30% higher.
What About NFC and Geolocation?
After running a couple of tests with NFC and GPS on and then turning them off, we found that they had no effect on discharge rate at all. In standby mode, wireless protocols consume negligible power. They are activated only when you use them: pay for purchases or touch your phone to an NFC tag, look at the map or use the navigation.
However, in the case of GPS, it is worth making a small remark. Some applications may use geolocation in the background. To disable this feature, go to the permissions settings for a specific program and select “Location”.
The Bottom Line
Note that wireless networks and accessories are not always to blame for the increased consumption. Energy consumption can increase or decrease not only due to specific services, it also depends on the specific model. Smartphones use different processors (Snapdragon, Kirin, Exynos, Helio), and each manufacturer develops its own version of the firmware for Android. At the same time, the approach to optimizing energy consumption can vary significantly.
For example, Samsung Galaxy S20 users have complained about poor battery life due to a gluttonous processor and flaws in firmware optimization. The company took the criticism into account and installed a new processor in the Samsung Galaxy S21, which became a little faster and at the same time more economical. The algorithms responsible for power consumption have also been updated. As a result, the new model significantly surpassed its predecessor in terms of autonomy.
In addition, each person has their own scenarios of use: it is important for someone that the smartphone lives for two or three days, while others take advantage of the opportunities to the fullest.
However, it should be borne in mind that mobile Internet, geolocation and Bluetooth headphones will drain the battery faster in any scenario of use and in any model, since the principle of their operation is the same for everyone. If this is important to you, try adjusting scenarios and optimizing energy consumption.