How does 3G affect phone battery depletion?

A few weeks ago, it seemed like my phone battery would be at about 30% by the time I was leaving work at the end of the day, even when I hadn’t used it much. I’ve been using Llama to automatically switch off my Wi-Fi when I leave the house, but I wondered what impact leaving the 3G on all day has on my battery.

I kept track of how quickly my phone’s battery dropped with and without the 3G on over the span of a few days (table below).

  • On average, with the 3G on the battery drained 5.65% per hour. With the 3G off the battery drained 3.33% per hour (41% less).
  • Over the span of 8 hours, that’d be an average drain of 45.2% with the 3G* vs. 26.64% without the 3G.
What I’d really like is to keep 3G off most of the day, but have my phone “hop on” the network every 2-3 hours for 10 minutes to sync, then turn back off to conserve battery. I’ll work on creating something in Llama to do this automatically and share shortly.
Date 3G Start Batt. End Batt. Decrease/hr
4/4 Off 9:05 99% 10:05 97% 2%
On 10:05 97% 11:05 91% 6%
Off 11:05 91% 12:05 87% 4%
On 12:05 87% 1:05 81% 6%
Off 1:05 81% 2:05 77% 4%
On 2:05 77% 3:05 72% 5%
Off 3:05 72% 4:05 70% 2%
4/8 Off 10:00 94% 11:00 91% 3%
On 11:00 91% 12:00 85% 6%
Off 12:00 85% 2:00 79% 3%
On 2:00 79% 3:00 76% 3%
Off 3:00 76% 4:00 73% 3%
4/9 On 9:40 90% 11:00 85% 7%
Off 11:00 85% 12:00 81% 4%
4/10 On 9:15 87% 10:15 81% 6%
On 10:15 81% 12:30 67% 6.2%
Off 12:30 67% 1:30 62% 5%

*In striving for control, I didn’t use the web or any applications if I had the 3G on, so numbers reflect just idle state and anything running in the background. Obviously if you’re actually doing stuff, the drain would be greater than 45.2%. 

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