Each generation of G consumes more battery [( 4G compared to 3G or 2G) or ( 3G compared to 2G) ] than the previous one when used for data, since more complex algorithms are required to process higher data speeds

My question is if I don't use mobile data at all ( instead use Wi-Fi), but leave the mobile on 4G, will the battery consumption be the same or more as compared to 3G ( and on similar lines 3G Vs 2G), given identical usage and signal strength?

(I haven't found anything that talks of this, but I suspect power consumption would be higher)

  • 2
    You don't find much on this because it varies by chipset and device... Newer radio transceivers are much more efficient and can actually have lower battery consumption on LTE over HSPA or CDMA connections, but this can vary even by the band used. The answer, unfortunately is to test and see what is best in your situation, there is no all in one answer.
    – acejavelin
    Oct 21, 2016 at 14:14
  • @acejavelin: Thanks, but to narrow down, if I consider that chipset , band etc are all the same and hence don't alter the equation, what is the verdict? Testing unless done in a professional setup is pointless, especially user testing. I am looking for pointers atleast
    – beeshyams
    Oct 21, 2016 at 14:31
  • 2
    Apart from which: Unless your device AND provider support VoLTE (voice-over-LTE), if you don't use data running the device on LTE/4G makes absolutely no sense: as soon as you need to make/take a call, the device needs to switch to 3G. So depending on coverage, you'd rather lock it down to 3G or even 2G then. // BTW: My Wileyfox Swift lasts a full week on LTE, while my LG P880 must be recharged after 24h on 3G. So as Albert Einstein stated: "Everything is relative" :)
    – Izzy
    Oct 21, 2016 at 15:53
  • 1
    the more you keep your screen on when you are waiting for things to load you're using more battery. (unless you're downloading something while the screen is off) if the total amount of data you're using is equal for both cases you should be using more power when you're using slower internet. how much you leave your screen on matters more than many other things because things other than display are relatively more optimized. if you're using a lower brightness mode or darker theme on an AMOLED display that would mitigate the difference Sep 1, 2018 at 22:09

3 Answers 3


One important consideration is the strength of signal, if you have a stronger 4g signal in your area, 4g may consume less battery... But fallback to 3g in non volte networks is really irksome... Sometimes I miss calls when I am on 4g and using data. 2g definitely has significantly less battery drain.. so I keep my phone on 2g and switch to 4g when needed. I use power toggle widget on home screen to quickly reach network change screen.


... The LTE radio states drain slightly more power than their counterparts in 3G, because the tail states (Short DRX and Long DRX) stay at the higher base power, while much of the 3G tail is in the FACH state which uses half power. ...

So basically 4G modules consume more energy compared with 3G modules BUT

... the IC/chip technology is improving, batteries are becoming better, 4G coverage is improving, technology is maturing, networks are getting optimized, etc. All this will lead to your 4G devices performing much better than 3G soon. The difference will not be noticeable anymore. ...

So actually you can't feel any difference between 3G-4G energy usage.

Source: here.

  • Thanks. The linked articles do not differentiate between using the phone without using data as asked in the question or using voice and data ( agreed, it fits not say so explicitly buy that is the connotation, when you read the links mentioned). Use case in question is leaving the phone in 4G without using data at all. I am looking for answers staying this concern
    – beeshyams
    Oct 21, 2016 at 15:42

Actual modem power consumption values are closely guarded and not made available publicly. Although I can’t share exact numbers, I can tell you that 3G and 4G standby power consumption is almost identical. 4G data does consume more power than 3G data, however this shouldn’t come as a surprise because the data speeds are so much higher. However, not all 4G use cases consume more power. VOLTE actually consumes less power than WCDMA, CDMA or GSM talk. Power consumption also varies by chipset, for example, iPhone 7s with Intel modem have less than half of the 3G talk time of phones with a Qualcomm modem. Source: http://nordic.businessinsider.com/iphone-7-battery-life-2016-10/ Here's more info on the differences between the two: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/21/32gb-iphone-7-slower-than-more-expensive-versions-tests-show

  • Thanks +1. While concrete figures may not be available, reasons for power usage patterns in non data would help
    – beeshyams
    Oct 23, 2016 at 17:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .