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No Kidding about the 3G Eating Up the Battery

September 24th, 2008

IpbattSomething I got to test out when back in the U.S.: how much the iPhone’s 3G feature eats up battery time. The answer: lots.

Since global roaming would cost way too much (about $2 per minute, even to receive calls), I made sure that Sachi and I could not even accidentally use the feature while we were abroad recently. To do this, you just have to go into the Settings and turn “Airplane Mode” on, then go back into WiFi and turn it back on again; this disables the phone feature and nothing else.

Usually, my iPhone drains the battery within a single day; even moderate usage can leave me dry before I get home. To prevent this, I often bring my charging cable with me.

While in the U.S., with only 3G turned off, the iPhone would last up to 3 days without a recharge–quite a substantial difference. That was even with WiFi active and in use whenever we were at home. So Steve Job was not kidding about needing a more efficient chipset to make the 3G worthwhile–the full-face touch screen, WiFi, and constant usage don’t use up the phone’s charge like that one feature does.

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  1. ykw
    September 25th, 2008 at 02:40 | #1

    I think the big display is the main consumer of the energy.

    If one can reduce brightness, that would help.

  2. Paul
    September 25th, 2008 at 18:05 | #2

    While you’re right- the 3G eats batteries a lot faster than the EDGE-only version of the iPhone- I’m surprised that you burn through a charge each day.

    My 3G usually holds out for at least two days, with maybe 10-15 minutes of talk time per day, checking email three or four times a day (that’s downloading two accounts from Gmail), and maybe 20 minutes of web browsing a day. How much actual use are you putting in?

    I think a lot of difference comes from your settings. If you’ve got the polling (push) thing turned on, you’re connecting up via 3G for email checks awfully frequently.

    And you’re wise to be sure you don’t accidentally use the data features. If the provider over there is anything like AT&T, they’ll absolutely slaughter you for data use. It’s ludicrous how much the markup is on that, kind of like the ridiculous markup on ATM charges.

  3. Frankie
    September 26th, 2008 at 15:30 | #3

    My friend in Italy made the latest update of the iphone software and he told me that the battery lasts longer now. Luis, do you have the lastest update installed?

  4. Luis
    September 27th, 2008 at 07:47 | #4

    Frankie: yes, I do–but have not had enough chance to gauge the difference yet. Interesting–I’ll keep an eye out for that.

    Paul: Actually, I was using WiFi a lot–which is supposed to eat up the batteries as well–and on WiFi, still had the Push setting on for checking email. I also used the iPhone a lot for playing games and stuff. But nothing eats up the battery like 3G, and probably because, as you said, I have Push on for email–which I don’t really want to give up, truth be told.

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