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Cellphones Power Wireless Networking Hardware

4G Phones Are Really Fast — At Draining Batteries 281

Posted by Soulskill
from the buzzwords-take-a-lot-of-juice dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "With Verizon's 4G network covering a good chunk of the country and AT&T gaining ground, more smartphone users have access to the fastest wireless service available. But because 4G coverage isn't truly continuous in many locations, users' batteries are taking a big hit with 4G, as phones spend an lot of battery power trying to hunt down a signal. 'You've got a situation where the phones are sending out their signals searching and searching for a 4G tower, and that eats up your battery,' says Carl Howe, a vice president for research firm Yankee Group. The spottiness of 4G stems at least in part from the measured approach carriers have taken to it, rolling out the service city by city. There are a few tricks 4G users can try to extend battery life such as turning off your 4G connection when you don't need the fastest speeds — when using email, for instance — or using a program such as JuiceDefender to search for apps you may have downloaded that you don't need to run all the time, and erase them."
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4G Phones Are Really Fast — At Draining Batteries

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  • Very frustrating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jpwilliams (2430348) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @11:17PM (#38962887)

    I'm in SF, and I upgraded from an iPhone 3G to a HTC Thunderbolt with 4G. The Thunderbolt, even brand new, has to be charged twice a day at least, and I keep things like Bluetooth and wifi off most of the time. If I don't plug in my phone at night, it will be dead by morning.

    Coming from someone who carefully manages when I plug my electronics in so as to extend their usable battery life, it sucks to have to feel like my phone always needs to be plugged in.

    Is the 4g tech itself power hungry? Mine seems to have battery trouble even when I'm stationery and the 4g signal is strong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @11:24PM (#38962921)

    The phones should really keep 4g off (& just stick to edge) unless you actually unlock your phone & start using network apps (e.g. you open mail, etc). Leave push notifications always on the most battery-efficient network available (wifi, edge, 3g, 4g, etc) & only turn on the faster networks when the apps are in focus & need them (e.g. browser, e-mail, etc) or if there's a background app that requests to use the highest-bandwidth connection available.

    yes, yes - there's a latency to turning on & associating the faster radio. however, that would only be noticed in the launch first bandiwdth-heavier app after phone unlock scenario. your standby time would be waaaay better.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @11:50PM (#38963085) Homepage Journal
    The iPhone - and it really was the first in this category - got people to charge their phone every single night. Since then people have understood that part of the price you pay for having a smartphone instead of a RAZR (or one of the beasts that had a really long battery life - I had a dumpy looking Moto phone that could easily get ten days of standby if I didn't use it much) is that you have to charge it every night. As long as it gives a full 9-10 hours, most people don't care. If I can get 16 hours without a charge under heavy call/text use, I'm fine.
  • Re:Apple again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:20AM (#38963267)

    The battery life problem, if you bothered to read even the summary instead of jumping to the comments to defend Apple, is because there isn't regular 4G coverage everywhere yet. In order for there to be an incentive to develop such widespread coverage, there must also be people willing to use that network (no massive network can be established entirely without users.) This means the only way good 4G coverage can ever happen is if there are issues with it in the early life cycle, and without those early adopters widespread 4G will never happen.

    So, without Android adopting 4G, Apple would never be able to follow suit, unless they want to receive the same complaints. Not that that would stop them, necessarily. Did you like all those dropped calls with the early iPhone because you were stuck on AT&T?

  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @02:02AM (#38963765) Homepage Journal

    My parents had to charge their Nextel phones every day or risk a dead phone on the second day.

    I do charge my iPhone every day out of habit because I tend to forget once in a while, and if I forget two days in a row, I might be in trouble.

    You might think iPhone started it, but people got in the habit of charging smart phones, regardless of brand, and this was before iPhone was available.

  • Re:Apple again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @02:26AM (#38963901)

    So, without Android adopting 4G, Apple would never be able to follow suit, unless they want to receive the same complaints. Not that that would stop them, necessarily. Did you like all those dropped calls with the early iPhone because you were stuck on AT&T?

    Two different issues.

    First, Apple chose not to go LTE for one very good reason - the current LTE chipsets suck.

    Here's the thing. LTE is a data standard. It doesn't define a voice standard, and there's proposals on how to do voice-over-LTE. And people want to do voice calls. So LTE phones right now hop onto the UMTS (or CDMA) network in order to handle a voice call, while doing LTE for data. The problem is that LTE phones now need two chips - one to do LTE, another to do 3G/voice (ever notice how the LTE versions of phones are always larger? It's not just the larger battery). The iPhone doesn't have enough space for another chip. Plus the extra chip takes power.

    Now, Qualcomm has announced their roadmap that has a combined LTE/UMTS/GSM/CDMA baseband (listed as LTE+voice) in a single chip, which is anticipated to be in the next iPhone.

    As for AT&T's dropped calls - it was because of over-aggressive power management from iPhones causing the control channel to be congested (which leads to dropped calls everwyhere in general). The irony being that the cells on AT&T were very underutilized (30-40%) but the control channel being completely saturated means dropped calls, slow data and other things.

    As for who drives things - well, the carriers work with handset manufacturers. The carriers want to deploy the Next Big Thing that can charge customers more money for, and since Apple's basically an untouchable (the carrier bends to Apple's will), they work with HTC and others to stick in new chips to try to get people to pay more for a new network.

    LTE deployment is quite interesting. When the (original 2G) iPhone came out, the 3G deployment in North America was quite spotty (the North American carriers chose 2G+ technolgies prior to the proper 3G rollout), but quite solid in Europe and Asia. These days, LTE deployment in North America is far more than Europe and Asia

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @02:27AM (#38963909) Journal

    I've never understood why a receive-only technology is disabled by something meant to stop emission of radio waves...

    Radio receivers use a local oscillator to demodulate the signal. This oscillator can radiate interference. Here's some more info:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superheterodyne_receiver#Local_oscillator_radiation [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Very frustrating (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jpwilliams (2430348) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:00AM (#38964027)

    Hate to say it, but I just got served!

      http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries [batteryuniversity.com]

    Good article. I thought it was bad to keep it plugged in and good to let it run. Turns out it's the opposite!

    Anyone know if the same applies for laptops?

  • by Bazer (760541) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:30AM (#38964163)
    I'm in Central Europe and there has been complete 4G coverage in major cities before Apple even considered using it in the next iPhone. These days I can get 4G coverage in the outback (and I do need my tubes to be HD in there). Please don't excuse carriers in the US for not upgrading the infrastructure. They're robbing you blind.

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