Using WiFi instead of the cell network saves battery life on smartphones

by on June 15, 2009

Q: I have a Palm Pre and am trying the get the best battery life out of it. Everything I read seems to suggesting using WiFi for data transfer will save battery on the device. However, when the phone goes into lock mode it seems like it turns off WiFi. If WiFi saves battery life then why wouldn’t it stay in WiFi mode when it is locked?

A: The reason your Palm Pre and most smartphones disconnect from WiFi when they are locked is because if the connection is not in use then the device can save battery power by turning that portion of the phone off. It uses less battery power to transmit data locally to your WiFi than it does to transmit data over the cellular network so that is why it is suggested you use WiFi if you can. When you unlock your phone it will reconnect to WiFi automatically if there is a WiFi connection around. In terms of usability it is seamless unless you watch the WiFi icons.

If there are no WiFi connections around then your phone will continue to search for one. This will eventually drain your battery so you should make sure you only have WiFi enabled when you are in a spot where you can get on a WiFi network or else it will end up hurting your battery life.