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Does "Location Services" always drain the battery when enabled?

3570 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Apr 22, 2009 6:41 AM by tokatta RSS
JimR123 Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Apr 16, 2009 8:40 AM
Hi,

I've read lots of things that say if you want to save battery power, disabled "Location Services".

I find it annoying that on the odd occasion that I want to use Location Services, say, to find an ATM near where I am, I have to go into settings and enable it, and then go back into the app I tried to use, and go and enter my search again, etc.

Now, I understand that if my phone is actually trying to find my location, that is should use some power.

But my question is... If I have Location Services switched on, and I am not actually using any app that is trying to find my location, does my phone actually use any more power than if Location Services is disabled?
PC, Windows Vista
  • Allan Sampson Level 10 Level 10 (122,145 points)
    The battery drain shouldn't be much unless you are actively using an app that uses location services. This is more like leaving Bluetooth and wi-fi on when not being used. Every little bit counts and adds up when trying to get the most out of the battery.

    You can test this yourself on an average day going to the same areas with other settings the same. Leave Location Services off turning it on only when needed compared to leaving Location Services on.
     PowerBook G4 17-inch/1.67GHz/2GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.5.6), 7200rpm-100GB HD,  iPod w/Video 30GB,  iPhone 3G 16GB
  • Allan Sampson Level 10 Level 10 (122,145 points)
    I'll try again.

    Some power will be used with Location Services on without actively using an app that uses Location Services, but it should be minimal when not actively using an app that uses Location Services. The same with leaving wi-fi and Bluetooth on when not connected to a wi-fi network and when not using a Bluetooth headset. Every little bit counts when trying to get the most out of the battery. Checking for new email every hour or every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes will not make a significant difference by itself but combined with turning other features or services off when not being used will help towards getting the most out of the battery.

    You can test this yourself with the same general usage, the same other settings, and at the same locations over a 2 day period. Leave Location Services off only turning it on when needed one day, and leave it on constantly the next day. I don't think you will see a significant difference with this setting alone, which you can determine for yourself with the same usage and other settings over a 2 day period.
     PowerBook G4 17-inch/1.67GHz/2GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.5.6), 7200rpm-100GB HD,  iPod w/Video 30GB,  iPhone 3G 16GB
  • tokatta Level 3 Level 3 (865 points)
    As mentioned above, leaving this on is like leaving BT and WiFi on when not in use. All 3 use some type of chip/radio that needs to be energized so the OS sees it.

    Location services depends on GPS. The iPhone does have a GPS chip, so by turning off "location services" you are no longer suppyling power to the chip/radio. Same goes for BT and WiFi.

    I think turning off location services makes a noticeable difference. Not as much as WiFi or BT, but maybe 5% to 10% extra standby time.
    HAL, Other OS, The size of a spaceship
  • Tamara Level 6 Level 6 (13,720 points)
    It does not use extra power to have Location Services enabled if you're not using the app.

    I leave Location Services on all the time and I have decent battery life.
    MacBook , Mini, Airport Express, iPhone 3G x 2, Mac OS X (10.5.5)
  • paulcb Level 6 Level 6 (18,670 points)
    Exact same here.
    HP DV7 Laptop, Windows Vista, iPhone 3G 8GB
  • DaVBMan Level 6 Level 6 (9,265 points)
    Tamara wrote:
    It does not use extra power to have Location Services enabled if you're not using the app.

    I leave Location Services on all the time and I have decent battery life.


    I agree that having location services on doesn't use battery unless an app is using it. Now none of us can say for sure about that since we don't know the software/hardware and how they talk/work and as the other poster said, powers the GPS chip. Just because the service is on, for all we know the OS only powers on the chip then "when needed"

    From looking at the "Optimize Your Settings" from http://www.apple.com/batteries/iphone.html They say:
    Minimize use of location services: Applications that actively use location services such as Maps may reduce battery life. To disable location services, go to Settings > General > Location Services or use location services only when needed.


    While for WiFi/Bluetooth, etc they say turn off, not just minimize use of "applications" that use it. That is because WiFi and Bluetooth have to actively beacon/probe while the GPS only has to do something when requested.

    Just my two cents though.

    Message was edited by: DaVBMan
    Windows XP Pro, iPhone (1st Gen) | AppleTV
  • Tamara Level 6 Level 6 (13,720 points)
    JimR123 wrote:

    a. The Enable Location Services setting ALLOWS apps to acquire my location by powering up all the necessary location obtaining devices on demand, and only when needed, and powering them down when they are finished with. When they are not in use, they are not using any power.


    This is correct.

    OR

    b. The Enable Location Services setting turns on the location obtaining devices, and keeps them fully powered up at all times, allowing apps to immediately obtain my location. The amount of power used is not determined by how many times the user uses the location information.


    No, this does not happen. Apps cannot run in the background.

    OR

    c. The Enable Location Services settings turns on the location obtaining devices, but keeps them in a standby mode (using little power) until they are used by apps, in which case they are fully powered up, and then powered down after use.


    There is no standby mode. When an application is closed, it is not functioning.
    MacBook , Mini, Airport Express, iPhone 3G x 2, Mac OS X (10.5.5)
  • JoeZinVA Level 2 Level 2 (430 points)
    If Location Services is enabled, does the phone consume more power, at all? And if so, how much?


    Yes. Let's just say _1% during any open app_. We can argue what the correct percentage is later on.

    All applications you have related to checking via your Apple ID or GPS (Maps, MMORPG Games, Multiplayer Games, HUD programs, etc.) will use that 1%.

    Then when you close it, it'll go to 0%.

    End your program and 'Location Services' goes to Standby. Or if you're looking for extra security, turn that feature off.

    iPhone 3.0 will have 'Background' like programs that do what was the first time around promised to work like E-Mail, IMs, etc.
    ------------------
    To save your headache further, consider carrying one or both items:
    * AC Power Plug
    * Car Power Plug

    An alternative to add:
    * iPhone battery pack

    There are many iPhone battery packs that give you 4 so hours extra of application usage time. A few have belt clips like Monster Mobile's iPhone case.
    Dell Studio Slim Desktop, Windows Vista, iPhone 3G
  • tokatta Level 3 Level 3 (865 points)
    I too have decent battery life with Location Services on, but I have better battery life with it off.

    Numerous sites report that this extends battery life as well, and enough people have done their own testing and concluded the same.

    I would like to see documentation in regards to Tamara's statement:

    "It does not use extra power to have Location Services enabled if you're not using the app"

    Leaving the WiFi or BT radios on when not connected to WiFi or BT, so why would the GPS radio be any different? Applications don't turn hardware on and off, the OS does - that is why there are settings to turn radios on and off (BT, WiFi, Location services).
    HAL, Other OS, The size of a spaceship

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