Should you turn off cellular data to save battery?

It is simply amazing how much stuff is inside your phone. In addition to the buttons, screen, ports, and speakers (and the chips that make them work) there are at least five (and sometimes up to 12) radio transmitters and receivers. That’s, like, as much as in a television tower farm. Of course they’re not as powerful which is good because, well, they’d be lethal.

Still, those radios do take up power and if you’re looking to squeeze every bit of battery life out of your device, you might be tempted to turn one or two of them off. If you don’t use Bluetooth, absolutely turn it off, but it won’t do a lot for you since Bluetooth uses very little power. On the other hand, what about cellular data? This is a radio that has to be powerful enough to send high-speed data to a receiver a mile away. Surely turning that off will save you some power.

And yes, it does.

As far as I could tell with my very amateurish tests with my iPhone 6, leaving the cellular data option on costs you about 1% of your battery per hour, assuming you don’t use it. In my test, I lost about 5% per hour of battery by actually using cellular data compared to Wi-Fi, in other words Wi-Fi is more efficient. But then if you’re consuming a lot of data, you’re also processing a lot of data so your phone is going to drain, fast. I think we all know that.

Personally I don’t recommend turning off cellular data. The drain isn’t that big when it’s not used and you’ll get a lot of nag screens telling you to turn it back on, even if you’re on Wi-Fi. When you do go out in the world, you might forget to turn it back on, which means your maps won’t work right, you’ll lose e-mails, and in general you’ll just be very unhappy. Even though you’ll have tons of battery left, you won’t be able to tell anyone about it unless you voice or text (and in some cases you’ll lose advanced texting features, too.)

So what’s the best way to conserve battery if turning off parts of your phone is a bad idea? It’s a cellular signal booster. A cell booster amplifies the signal coming from cell towers meaning that your phone doesn’t have to work so hard to amplify it. That means real increases in battery life without losing the ability to use cellular data. Cellular boosters are easy to install and in some cases all you have to do is put one in the window. Boosters come in many sizes and price ranges to fit different budgets and cover different size areas. Over 90% of homes suffer from poor signal in some part or other, so why not do something about it? Shop for cellular signal boosters now at Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.