Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G/LTE – Which Uses Most Battery Life?

Your smartphone’s battery life is important. For this reason, many users ask us which network connection uses up the most battery life. Is it a Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G/LTE connection? Answers vary. Some say that they notice better battery performance while on Wi-Fi. Others swear by mobile data connections such as 3G or 4G. The answer is, as with many things, it depends.

On the bright side, many modern mobile devices automatically disable 3G and 4G while using Wi-Fi networks. However, some devices have an option to switch between both connections (whichever it feels is best). This setting is not optimal as it consumes more battery power. And, whether you are a believer or not, 4G consumes a LOT of battery life.

4G Drains Battery

Yes, I typed that heading. 4G is a major battery hog. Don’t believe me? Ask around! Why does 4G drain the battery so fast? The short answer is that it is a powerful network framework. And, as such, it uses more power. However, the real issue is far more complex and most of the times unrelated to 4G technology. For example,

  • Wireless providers such as Verizon Wireless set up their 4G/LTE enabled devices to connect to both the 3G and 4G networks concurrently. That means your phone works twice as hard to maintain a connection. Hence, it uses twice as much power to maintain a connection.
  • Furthermore, when you make calls or send and receive text messages, the 3G radio pauses. In so doing, it causes an extreme strain on the battery.
  • When traveling, your wireless device constantly switches from cell tower to cell tower to keep you connected to the network. A process called “handover”. With the Verizon configuration (LTE to EV-DO), the handover drains your battery faster than it would with a 4G/LTE only connection.

I hope some of that makes some sense. The real problem really isn’t 4G itself. It’s the way the devices and network are configured. However, for further clarification, you may read up more here.

How To Save Battery Life

There are many ways to preserve your battery life. For Android smartphones, read here. For iOS devices, read here. For quick tips relating to network connections, try:

  • Stay connected to a Wi-Fi network for best results.
  • When you are not connected via Wi-Fi, disable it.
  • When you are not connected to any network, enable Airplane Mode.

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