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Wifi vs 3g/4g - Battery Drain?


  1. sdgmcdon

    sdgmcdon Well-Known Member

    I've read and heard many times that to save battery on your phone, use wifi and turn off mobile data (3g/4g) when you can...

    I'm stumped as to how this saves battery power though?

    Wifi, though much closer to it's transmitter, is ALWAYS transmitting where 3g/4g, though much farther from their transmitters/towers (whatever, you know what I mean), only transmit as needed. Right?

    If that's the case, then it seems like the two would be a break even? Only time it seems that wifi would conserve battery is during times when you're constantly & actively transferring data (streaming a movie, music, downloading etc).

    What am I missing here?

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  2. Digital Controller

    Digital Controller The Real Bass Creator Guide

    It is just solely more efficient on your battery...while Wifi uses 32MW of power consumption to stay active, mobile data (3G) takes around 500MW of power....therefore that makes Wifi around 15 times more efficient than 3G.


    Also distance has a great factor in consuming battery life...while some towers have to push that signal miles to reach the device, Wifi using is only pushing it some feet away from the device.

    It's just how things work.
  3. sdgmcdon

    sdgmcdon Well-Known Member

    Well yea, but isn't wifi ALWAYS transmitting where as 3g/4g only transmit as needed?
  4. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Well-Known Member

    No, it is not, at least not a significant amount. It only maintains a connection using an insignificant amount of data/power.
  5. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Well-Known Member Contributor

    My phone literally eats battery with data enabled but not wifi only. Partly due to the wifi sleep policy whenever the device is locked. I often, when only wanting to keep my weather widget and email sync up to date, use 2G only mode if not near a wifi spot. Seems to use far less on Edge than 3G but I live in fringe 3G coverage so it uses more power constantly switching in and out of 3G when signal strength is low, but in 2G only mode (settings-->wireless and networks-->use 2G networks if running cyanogen mod; gsm only if using phone info app) it stops that behavior and battery life is a bit better
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