At first glance it may seem that a 4G radio uses more battery power than a 3G radio. And people who think so are absolutely right. However, taking this idea for granted is a little misleading just because you can’t speak about your smartphone’s battery power regarding only 4G and 3G in isolation.
The truth is that your 4G radio consumes only nominally more power than the 3G radio. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to measure the difference and you just won’t notice it.
Nevertheless, users believe that their smartphone using 4G gets discharged faster than when it’s working on 3G. This misleading supposition is caused by several reasons. Let’s discuss some of them in detail below.
First of all, you should always bear in mind that your smartphone’s battery consumption is a very complex thing. We will try to explain everything to you as clearly as possible, without any sophisticated terms.
What is more power-saving 3G or 4G?
It’s impossible to speak about any smartphone’s battery consumption taking into consideration solely the work of 3G and 4G radios. What is going on when you surf the Internet? The 4G or 3G radio ensures your stable connection to the mobile network, but your screen is also active and the processor is working. Thus, they also consume your smartphone’s battery power.
Here are some other points related to your battery consumption:
- the frequency the mobile signal you are getting is being transmitted on
- the strength of the incoming mobile signal
- your mobility or immobility in space
So how can the signal frequency influence the consumption of your battery? Everything is simple - different radio wavelengths use your battery power in a different way. This has more to do with physics and that’s why we won’t go into details about this topic in the article. But if you would like to know more, you can surf the Internet and read some technical articles.
Another point to consider is the strength of the incoming signal. When the existing mobile signal is strong enough, your smartphone spends less battery to catch that signal. So now you can see why a mobile signal booster can significantly increase the battery life of your phone. Improved signal ensures longer battery life and less power is consumed.
Now let’s see how your location and moves can affect the lifespan of your battery. First, you need to understand how mobile networks operate.
When you are motionless, your smartphone is connected to the nearest base station. But when you start to move (mostly in a vehicle, but the same is when walking or bicycling), the connection is maintained with this very base station only until you reach the limit of its range. Then the connection is “handed off” to the next base station which keeps it active until you are within its range limit.
This process continues as long as you are on the move. And the battery consumption issue turns up mostly when you are in areas with a mixed 3G and 4G mobile coverage. Every time when your phone switches from the 4G radio to the 3G radio or vice versa it consumes a lot of battery power.
The power consumption is much more noticeable than when your smartphone is stably using one type of a radio without any switching. A simple user who has no idea of this switching process, simply judges by the level of his battery when the phone is using 4G and comes to the misleading conclusion that the 4G radio consumes more battery power.
Why does “4G Actually Uses More Battery”
It’s not a secret that as time flows by and technologies advance, we use our mobile phones a lot more than before. The devices that were initially designed for making calls and sending text messages, today operate as a source of entertainment and communication via messengers. We use our phones for playing, watching videos, chatting, and even for work.
Thanks to 4G technology we can get the same amount of data in a shorter period than with 3G technology. As a result of this we can receive a lot more content and enjoy a better user experience. So it’s not a surprise that we spend more time in front of the smartphone’s screen.
In theory, 4G should make it possible to minimize the amount of time we spend on our smartphones, and therefore the battery consumption should decrease. But the reality is different. We spend more time using our gadgets instead of spending less, and our smartphones consume more battery power instead of consuming less.
So is 3G really a more effective battery-consumer than 4G?
In general, 3G consumes less battery power than 4G. But at the same time 3G operates much slower than 4G, so it has to work longer and to use a battery for longer periods to deliver the same amount of data.
The 4G LTE radio consumes slightly more power, but is able to transfer large amounts of data at a faster speed. Thus, it can complete the task quicker and come back to its “ready” state in a shorter period.
Due to this fact, many people make the case that the 4G LTE radio is actually more battery-saving than the 3G radio.
Nevertheless, we can’t but agree that turning off your 4G will help you save battery. Although your user experience will suffer greatly in this case, since it will be limited to using only 3G.
And as we have already noted, your smartphone’s radios never work independently. You should always remember that the screen and the processor are always actively working together with the radios.
So as you can see, the question of battery consumption is really very complex. And since most of us are not ready to limit our user experience and live without 4G, we should get used to keeping our AC outlet handy.
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