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Does GPS automatically turn on/off?Support


  1. Twan013

    Twan013 Member

    Hey guys, I believe this is my first post (I apparently signed up in December, but can't remember why). Anyway, I've got a Galaxy S4 on its way, and I wanted to ask a few questions regarding the various radios, and whether they will automatically disable when not in use. I've seen some old posts (from 2010) that mention that for security reasons, there is no way to automatically disable them, but I wanted to know if things have changed in the past few years. My wife's iPhone (can I say that on here;)) only pops up the GPS satellite when we open the maps app, and I'm not sure if the S4 (or any other android for that matter) will work in the same way. Is the satellite icon just an indication that the radio is active, and when it's not showing, the radio is disabled, or is it still running in the background and using up battery while "waiting" to be used again? Likewise for the wi-fi. To conserve battery as much as possible, do I need to use the drop down toggle menu to disable each radio when not in use? I know in the grand scheme of things, its not that much of a hassle (one, maybe two swipes, a tap to turn it on/off, and click of the home button), but just wanting to know for sure.

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  2. John Bean

    John Bean Happy Wanderer Guide

    I never disable wifi and GPS, they seem to have little effect on battery life when not in use. In particular the GPS is very battery hungry - as I discovered when I left a map open for a couple of hours - but consumes nothing when not in use (but still switched on).

    I have a Nexus 4 but I doubt it matters which phone in this regard.
    Rxpert83, Crashdamage and codesplice like this.
  3. codesplice

    codesplice Elite Recognized Geek Moderator

    Hi Twan013; welcome to the board :)

    There's no need to manually turn off or disable the GPS radio; it will only actually be used ("on") when an application is requesting precise location information - and you'll see the little icon in the notification area when that happens. If that icon isn't displayed, the GPS isn't in use, and it isn't draining the battery.

    Similarly, I don't see a need for manually disabling the Wifi when it's not in use. The "scanning" mode uses very little power at all when it's not connected to a network; when it is connected to a wifi network, transferring data over wifi is a lot more battery-friendly than the mobile (cellular) network. That cellular radio drains a lot more power. Keeping Wifi enabled also lets the phone use nearby networks to quickly determine its coarse location, which will also be more battery-friendly (though not quite as precise) as using the GPS. Used in conjunction with GPS, the Wifi location scanning can lead to a much quicker acquisition time - which, again, uses less power.

    So my personal recommendation is just to leave them on all the time. Again, each radio will only cause a noticeable battery hit when it is actually being used.

    I hope this helps :)
    Rxpert83, Crashdamage and Brian706 like this.
  4. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Well-Known Member

    I leave WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS on in the settings with no significant impact on battery drain. I use no manual controls, everything works automatically. GPS will activate/deactivate automatically as needed for maps or whatever. IOW if the GPS icon is not visible, GPS is using no power. However, I do use an app called WiFi Location Toggle to automatically control WiFi switching and save just a bit of battery. Search 'WiFi Location' in the Play store to find it and for more details. Free, effective.
    Brian706 likes this.
  5. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    Hi there, Twan013! You actually signed up in August 2011. :eek:

    Yep, absolutely. We're very open-minded around here. :D

    I've moved this thread to the Galaxy S4 board, so fellow owners can give specific input.
  6. Twan013

    Twan013 Member

    Thanks guys. I figured battery drain wouldn't be a major problem if any at all, mostly I was just curious if it has any affect, or if those old posts from back in the day was a "fear factor" or legitimate for that time frame.

    As for the signup, I went back and started editing my information and saw where I joined back in '11. Again, no idea why, and no idea why I never stuck around.
  7. codesplice

    codesplice Elite Recognized Geek Moderator

    Maybe you'll stick around this time :)

    Let us know if you run into issues once you receive the S4 and start working with it!
    Rxpert83 likes this.
  8. itsallgood

    itsallgood Well-Known Member

    I have to disagree with you guys about leaving on bluethooth, wifi and GPS not draining battery. When I leave these on at any given time, but not using them, I notice battery drain faster. I don't know, it might be because some of my apps are running in the background using them. I say turn them off when not in use.
  9. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood Moderator

    Welcome (back) to the forums! :D


    Wifi and Bluetooth will scan for connections when on and not connected, but GPS will only be used when your location is requested by an app.

    Going through your apps and disabling location in their settings can go a long way in keeping GPS use down. Facebook is a good example of an app many can go without location with.

    Overall, They should have a minimal impact on battery life. But if you don't use them a lot its a good idea to turn it off. :thumbup:

    I usually leave WiFi on, and toggle on/off GPS/location as needed.

    I never use Bluetooth, so that's a circumstance where it would make sense to leave it off.
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