When I have Wi-Fi turned on, but not connected to any network, how much does Android use the Wi-Fi function? I'm asking this because apparently Wi-Fi activity uses considerable* amounts of battery.

Is the device constantly scanning for Wi-Fi signals to find a network to connect to? Or does it only do it at some intervals to save battery, so that all significant battery use happens only when it's connected? Are there any settings related to this?

(I have Android 2.2.1 but I'm interested in information about other recent versions as well if there are significant differences.)

* - "considerable" should not be interpreted as a synonym of "large" or "too much". I'm not suggesting Wi-Fi drains my battery immediately, just that the energy consumption is worthy of considering.


I'm pretty certain the wifi drains more when scanning than when actively connected to a network. So when you are not going to use wifi, it is better to turn it off and use cell network (which you'll be using anyways while not actively connected to a wifi).

  • 2
    or no network, for those of us who don't have data turned on. :)
    – Broam
    Sep 16 '11 at 13:35
  • More? Wow... well it does make sense technically if it indeed is scanning all the time, but what a waste of battery life! Well, I'll accept this answer but since you're just pretty certain, I'll wait a few days first to see if anyone has more solid info. Sep 16 '11 at 17:24
  • I now continued this issue in a question about apps that might help with this Sep 16 '11 at 17:46
  • And I'm pretty sure you are wrong. Sep 16 '11 at 18:30
  • 1
    Once connected to a WiFi the phone will only scan manually, if you hit refresh, choose to view other wireless connections or use an app such as WiFi Analyzer that force the phone to scan. It's been reported that if you have a strong stable connection it is better to have WiFi enabled for your battery. However once out of range you should disable the WiFi. As @BryanDenny stated, the phone will drain faster while actively searching for a wireless network. If it's enabled and you aren't connected it will continue to actively scan. Sep 22 '11 at 17:20

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