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Battery Efficiency: 3G or WiFi?

Discussion in 'APPLE iPhone, iPad Tablets and all iOS Devices' started by bobolito, Oct 24, 2008.

  1. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    I've read numerous times how it has been suggested to keep WiFi off when not in use to preserve battery until I came across an article saying that keeping WiFi ON is actually better for those who use a lot of data since the iPhone won't use the 3G network as much. On the other hand, in just two days with my iPhone I have noticed that keeping WiFi on all the time takes a bigger toll on the battery than using 3G. So which one do you think uses more battery? 3G or WiFi?
     
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  2. spleck

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    I think its the famous "it depends."

    For reference, my Wi-Fi router is set at 28mW. Cell phones should be about 300mW to 600mW radiated, but could be using up to 1W to do so (depends on efficiency. Old car phones are up to 3W radiated.

    However, I believe the cell radio is much better about sleep and low power modes than Wi-Fi is. Plus, 3G is an incremental power usage over GSM/EDGE, while Wi-Fi is in ADDITION to the cell radio. So in standby, Wi-Fi off is better, but during data transfer, Wi-Fi on is better. But it probably depends on how much data, since Wi-Fi stays on even after a page is loaded, while the 3G radio should be conserving power.

    Also, I've noticed the Wi-Fi goes to "sleep" when the phone is on standby and the connection is polled when you wake the phone up, even if you don't need a data connection. 3G should get a pilot, etc, but not open a data connection. So if you're like me and frequently use the contacts or calendar without sending data, you're wasting power having Wi-Fi on.

    I have to leave Wi-Fi on since I'm not usually in a 3G area. When I am in a 3G area, I seem to get better battery with casual use having Wi-Fi off. Except for Knoxville, though, I always turn Wi-Fi on when I'm going to be browsing a lot. Knoxville had faster 3G than I was able to get on Wi-Fi.

    So... I think 3G uses more power than Wi-Fi. If you use data a LOT keep Wi-Fi on, but if you only casually use data, then leave Wi-Fi off, and turn it on for long sessions. (sorry for the long post to a seemingly simple question)
     
  3. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    I think this is the key to the whole dilemma. So like you said, "if you use data a LOT keep Wi-Fi on, but if you only casually use data, then leave Wi-Fi off."

    I guess I am more of a casual user than a constant data user even though I thought I used a lot of data. I am on 3G all the time in my area, so I don't see EDGE that much.
     
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  4. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    I would think that 3G is better than the WiFI as mentioned earlier the 3G connection is only really active while being used, then it goes to standby. I notice on my TIlt that if I leave WiFi on, even if I'm not actively using it the battery dies relatively quickly.

    -Jay
     
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  5. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor
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    Hey Bobolito, its nice to have another respected member of WA enjoy the iPhone. I'm loving mine. I've been ill recently and having the Pandora appl to select soothing music was really appreciated.

    When did you get it?

    Well, I think you know the answer already. If your 3G signal is weak, your strong home wifi is going to save more battery for you. Esp if you have lots of data to move about.

    When I'm not in a wifi area, I turn it off. That saves the battery. Also, per Apple's recommendations, I turn off 'Ask to join new networks' when I'm in a known area (like home). That should prevent polling, and battery drain. That means I almost always leave it off, once I learned where the hotspots are. The phone only joins ones it already knows that way.

    If the wifi icon is a true telltale, the largest amount of energy is used when data downloading/uploading. Outside those appls, minimum juice is being drawn just to poll and maintain the local wifi contact.

    So in summary, I leave wifi off, unless i'm squatted for some period of time in a wifi hot spot (like my home) and always leave 'ask to join new networks' off, unless I'm in a totally new area.
     
  6. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    Got mine on Wednesday at the new Apple store in Willowbrook Mall (NJ). It's an addictive toy I have to say. Probably the most user friendly, intuitive and efficient user interface that I've ever used!

    Like you, I keep WiFi off most of the times unless I need faster access or I know I'm going to be actively browsing for a while. However, I do stream a lot when driving so all that goes through 3G.

    The only thing I don't like is Pandora's sound quality (and AOL Radio) over 3G which is poor. They only sound good when connecting through WiFi. I'm surprised I haven't seen more complaints on the forums about this, yet we've had a bunch of nitpickers crying about light leakage and other stupid things. Last.fm, on the other hand, doesn't have poor sound quality when connected through 3G. Another good free streaming app is FStream which plays high quality sound from AAC+ shoutcast streams. Haven't found another app that can do that.
     
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  7. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor
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    Bobolito and Jay

    So I was looking for something else, and I found this on the apple web page. I read this before, but forgot the details. But it does confirm my thoughts posted before:

    From Apple's web page on how to improve battery life on the iPhone:


    Turn off Wi-Fi: If you rarely use Wi-Fi, you can turn it off to save power. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and set Wi-Fi to Off. Note that if you frequently use your iPhone to browse the web, battery life may be improved by using Wi-Fi instead of cellular data networks.


    From: Apple - Batteries - iPhone

    So WiFi is better than 3G if your're surfing alot with the iPhone, for conserving battery life!

    Charlyee, probably holds true for your new Treo Pro or any WiFi enabled phone too!
     
    #7 viewfly, Nov 15, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2008
  8. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    That might be because since WiFi is faster than 3G (in most cases) then you spend less time waiting for pages to load and you can get stuff done quicker, and hence use less battery. Just a thought.
     
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