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Report: T-Mobile Phones Last Longer on Battery Than AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Counterparts

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T-Mobile has added more customers in the past 15 months than the three other major carriers combined, but the cellular provider may be distinguished in at least one other, more important way. According to tests conducted by Laptop Mag, T-Mobile phones last consistently longer on battery than their AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon counterparts. 

Laptop Mag’s test, which consists of disabling Bluetooth, NFC, and Wi-Fi and  browsing 50 websites until power drains completely, measured a marked battery increase in T-Mobile variants of popular smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S5, for example, lasted more than three hours longer than the Verizon model, while the HTC One (M8) lasted two hours longer than the AT&T version. Even older handsets like the Galaxy S4 exhibited the same behavior – the T-Mobile variant lasted an hour longer than the Sprint variant.

Averaged over a 3-year period, Laptop Mag reports that T-Mobile phones typically last 8 hours and 11 minutes on battery, Sprint devices 7:34, AT&T 7:26, and Verizon 7:12.

What are the reasons for the disparity? Laptop Mag ruled out location – they had a writer run the same tests in a different city. The publication postulates that T-Mobile’s network could be sending and receiving data more efficiently than others. Another contributing factor could be the relative lack of bloatware T-Mobile pre-installs on its devices. Whatever the reason, “Uncarrier” subscribers have yet another reason to gloat.

carrier-battery-chart2

Via: Laptop Mag
  • Chris

    My battery life increased when I switched to AT&T, probably because my phone has a signal more of the time.

    I am going to switch back to T-Mobile in a year or two and give them another shot when they’re done with their EDGE->LTE upgrades, but this past year was a pretty frustrating experience with them.

  • Nikos Koufos

    Haha not if you live in Pennsylvania or any other place T-Mobile doesn’t have real service (I’m on T-Mobile)

  • Jim Davis

    I wonder how the Nexus devices fare. They typically don’t have the bloatware that carriers like to install.

  • Dominique Griffin

    Pretty sure it’s because of the bloatware that the other companies add.

  • Chippah

    That’s cuz the radio is idle with zero signal or sumphin.. tsss

  • archercc

    Maybe that is why I am the only Nexus 4 owner on here that doesnt think his battery life is terrible.

  • Joe

    This is truth. My LG G3 lasts FOR DAYS. I’m not even kidding. My wife had her phone on for a couple hours, checked the battery it was at 100%. Some may say it’s because TMO network is crap, well that’s crap. My 4g LTE in my home is full bars and 25+Mbps. Glad I switched to TMO. Only complaint is lack of coverage on i95

  • Bob G

    And Verizon still sucks. Sky is blue.

  • bassman418

    Their battery last longer because they receive less text and phone calls…….

  • yummy

    Having only three cell towers probably gives the battery a break.I think Adirondack Park has more celltowers than Tweemobile

    • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

      Really showing your intellect there aren’t ya’? Be Proud.

  • duke69111

    I would of like to see the G2 on this list of phones.

  • Rene Soto

    It’s gotta be the sending and receiving of data. My phones either have a custom rom without carrier bloat or were bought without a carrier attached so I can’t say that affects me.

  • Sjschwar

    just turn of 4g, those phones will last over a day

  • sean parmenter

    For a nominal fee, I’ll let Legere use this as a new tag line: ” T-Mobile, more gloat, less bloat!”

  • Trevor

    Apparently phones in non-TMobile coverage areas weren’t part of this study. All that searching for signal is hell for the battery….

    Less jestful: I wonder how much of this has to do with TMobile phones not needing to deal with LTE until recently. I imagine that would save a good amount of battery, unless in their pre-LTE days, they were selling phones with LTE radios enabled for some strange reason.

  • MvP77

    Current battery life on my T-Mobile One M8

    • asianrage

      That’s normal for me on VZW. Running SENSE.

      • MvP77

        On sense with battery save mode I get about 5hrs on screen time.

        • asianrage

          Good to know. I’ve never used Battery Saver mode for longer than a couple hour, though I should, since I get terrible coverage where I work now.

    • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

      That’s nothing, I get 5-6 hours screen on time on Regular mode (not powersaver) on my T-Mobile m8.

  • GJV

    Perhaps because they’re not loaded down with every piece of bloatware on earth? Verizon Tones, Verizon Navigator, Verizon Backup Assistant, Verizon Accesories, Verizon Support, Verizon Login, Verizon Location, Verizon Visual Voicemail, My InfoZone, My Verizon Mobile, City CallerID, Slacker Radio, NFL Mobile, Audible…phew …need I list more?

  • cyclepath

    hell, my droid razr maxx hd will last twice that long with bluetooth on….

  • GutterIsATool

    I would like to see them do this test with an unlocked phone. Take the Nexus 5 or the OnePlus One, and run the test on T-Mobile and AT&T with the same phone.

  • schoat333

    I wish I could test this myself, but this VZW SIM just doesn’t seem to work in my Nexus 5. Only this T-Mobile SIM works for some reason….

    • jimt

      Duh, No verizon bands.

  • Sam

    Dear Verizon: Stop collecting all the data and causing us poor battery life at the same time.

    – Signed
    All Verizon Customers

    • guest

      and probably charging for that data as well

      • angryVZWcust

        lol, i just hit my data allowance typing this.

  • jasenm

    Of course they will save battery!! They can’t connect to a working network! (runs for the hills…)

    • Batman

      If the phone were constantly searching for signal, that would cause significant battery drain.

    • malcmilli

      Yeah I wouldnt get much of a signal those hills you are running to, so i guess its a good think I and most others don’t live there.

    • jimt

      Actually, uses more battery when you are not connected to a network. It tries to find a network constantly which sucks the battery.

  • bydavidrosen

    My friend with a Note 3 on AT&T says he gets battery into the following night… I get like 8 hours on T-Mobile. Granted I use the crap out of my phone. But still. That’s such a huge difference that I don’t see how this could be true…

    • malcmilli

      you did say you use the crap out of your phone. My phone can sit unused for 3 days, or i could drain it in 7 hours.

      • bydavidrosen

        No I know… It just seems like SUCH a difference man. Haha. Like I could see 8 hours to 12 hours. But 8 hours to 2 days? Maybe if you don’t touch it and leave it in airplane mode… Which I know for a fact he doesn’t do. He uses it plenty too.

        • UniBroW

          Are you using anything other than location off or device only? the other settings drain your battery more in the background, also if you’re using google now there’s a good chance you have location reporting set to it’s default setting which is to report it. This has a substantial affect on your battery as it will drain irregardless of you actually using your phone or not.

          • bydavidrosen

            Yea, I mean, I use my phone haha. the only battery saving I do is I turn off Bluetooth and gps when I’m not actually using them. Otherwise everything is always on. And of course I shut the screen when I’m not actually staring at the phone.

  • Brandon

    I figure it has something to do with the frequencies that t-mobile uses compared the other carriers. My ex has a Note 3 on AT&T and I have one on T-Mobile and she would always say that her battery life is crap compared to mine. This pretty much proves it.

  • James Hill

    Verizon takes the worst battery prize!

  • Daistaar

    I wonder if this had to do with the antenna type? I recall old CDMA phones had two antennas; one for 3G and one for LTE. I thought (correct me if I’m wrong) that the GSM variants unified the LTE and 3G radios which is why flashing radios for them is just file whereas flashing CDMA files consisted of two.

    • hfoster52

      Antenna’s do not use battery’s its the transmitters. But unifying radios can do what you say they do since you are only powering 1 and not 2.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        They unified them on the same piece of silicon, so they are way more efficient than the first-gen LTE devices (/shudder) but they are still receiving/transmitting on both LTE (data) and CDMA (phone/SMS) simultaneously. Hence, the 20-25% reduction in battery life for the CDMA devices across the board.

  • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

    Too bad I live in bad network coverage for T-Mobile. I’m on Verizon and when I read that they were going to throttle us unlimited users I figured I would try and see if T-Mobile’s network has gotten any better. It’s pretty damn good RIGHT in the middle of my town, but outside it (the city is growing South), there is HORRIBLE coverage. My G3 was looking for a signal half the time and killed the battery in 5-6 hours. If the battery wasn’t getting drained I might have just stuck with T-Mobile. Luckily I didn’t port my number yet so I’m still with Verizon. I really, really, REALLY wish T-Mobile’s network was at least 50-75% of the coverage I get with Verizon around here.

    I love wi-fi calling and the two times I called customer support (one to return the phone the other to ask a question prior to returning – asked about corporate discount) they were EXCELLENT. I have had good experience with Verizon in the last few years but the T-Mobile folks were just so friendly and nice. I hope they expand in my area soon so I can leave Verizon.

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      That’s pretty much their fight at the moment. They may be good on price and service, but if they don’t have the coverage then those don’t really mean much. As my wife likes to point out, without a data signal, you might as well carry around a flip phone; at least that will last you 4-5 days on a charge.

      • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

        Such true words.

      • hkklife

        I know of at least 3 “mobile executive” types that have actually abandoned smartphones and instead carry around flip phones and cellular iPad Minis for that very same reason.

        • Justtyn Hutcheson

          I have sincerely considered it on many occasions. In fact, I could do it right now if I had an LTE-equipped tablet. Ultimately, the lure of the convenience of using a single pocketable device is winning out, but we’ll see how much longer that lasts. Doing that makes it much, much easier to unplug and relax.

    • 213ninja

      i share those thoughts, and with the throttling talks was honestly just the other day thinking of doing a tmo trial run. how did you do it? buy a prepaid SIM or something? did you buy a tmo phone?

      from what i know their service around my area is fringe but i’ve never personally taken it for a test run, just talked to quite a few people that have tmo….and their coverage map isn’t pretty.

      • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

        Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, after seeing the email with your reply I got a bit tied up but remembered this morning.

        I just went online and picked a phone and plan out. Had them ship it to my house. Activated the phone and gave it a test run. You have 14 days from when you receive the phone (if you order from T-Mobile) or from your purchase/activation date (in a store). I used it for about 1.5 days and determined it doesn’t have the network coverage I need and the battery drained quicker than normal since it was always searching for a signal in some areas in town. Other parts of town it was SOLID and fast. Wifi calling is awesome. But I can’t use a phone that dies that fast.

        • 213ninja

          thanks for the information. i kind of assumed they had a return program, just wasn’t sure how painless the experience would be. sounds like you had a fairly decent experience with tmo (signal aside) so i may be doing a trial myself here in the near future. thanks again.

  • Tony Byatt

    John Legere boastful rant incoming…

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      During the initial change-over, Legere was different and engaging. A year and a half later, his continued ranting, belittling, and general douchery is starting to wear thin.

      We get it Mr. Legere, you don’t like the other carriers, and think they all suck. Now that you have the momentum, you can start to dial back the vitriol a bit. You can be awesome for your customers without trashing a competitor every third word.

  • Rodeojones000

    Until T-Mobile expands its coverage outside of major metro areas this info means nothing to me.

  • j

    This shows a potential correlation between carriers and battery, but it is not scientifically generated evidence due to a lack of real controls.

  • sagisarius

    I’ve always heard that GSM is more widely used… so the companies that make the chips for it just have more experience, and ability to use less power… though I guess the Sprint result would throw that out the window.

  • schlanz

    Somehow I’ve already known this. Tmo phones are about 10% less power consuming.

    Guess when you’re a 3rd rate carrier anything you can use to brag about is a good thing.

    on a side note we are quickly approaching a point where battery life is not a big concern in general. And if we’re bragging aboug battery life, Droid Maxx yall. You got anything like that Tmo?

    • flosserelli

      “3rd rate” is a relative term, depending on your location. I get faster service than I did on VZW, for half the cost. So I’ll keep my “3rd rate” T-Mobile service…and I’ll keep the $160 savings each month also :)

      • schlanz

        true, ymmv with cellular service. I’m speaking in general, big picture terms and national footprint.

  • JermaineFerrell

    The only reason that is is because their 4g lte range is so limited (little to no coverage) you sit on hspa or on wifi which is less of a battery hog then 4g lte

    • derp hurr-durr

      *laughing*

      But! But! It’s because “insert random, patently false BS here”!!

      You guys are hilarious.

      FYI: read the article again. (Unless you enjoy being wrong, of course)

  • Cael

    Has Legere called out the others yet on this?

  • Alec

    Less bloatware = better battery life

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      I’d like to see proof of this theory. If an app isn’t running, its affect on battery life is zero. The only thing that consumes a variable amount of battery power is radio transmission, screen and CPU cycles. The only explanation is that the radio is more efficient on T-Mobile’s bands, or the transmission completes faster so the radio and CPU can throttle faster.

  • flosserelli

    I knew battery life was bad on CDMA, but I didn’t think it would differ between GSM carriers.

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      I would like to see a more scientific approach, where they test each one with the same signal strength in dB.

  • Pete Arado

    I’ve seen the opposite. I have a Nexus 5, and I just switched from T-Mo to AT&T, and I’ve actually noticed better battery life with AT&T. I consistently have a stronger data signal, too – almost always on LTE.

    To me, it seems that if you have a consistent signal and aren’t constantly hopping between 3G, HSPA, and LTE (like I was on T-Mo), that would improve your battery life. But maybe that’s not the case.

    • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

      I would have to agree a consistent data connection (usually the faster connection) will help in keeping your battery from draining.

    • Sebastian

      But this is clearly because of where you live. If you live in an area with good reception on both carriers then T-mo will have better battery life :)

  • Nick

    Haha, this is not the case with my T-Mobile Nexus 5. It was so bad on battery I had to get a Zerolemon battery case…..

    • Bryan Mills

      Nexus devices aren’t known for their battery.

      It just sucks compared to a lot of other phones.

      • Nick

        All I wanted was stock android, but to sacrifice battery for it…. Meh. I’m going with a Note 4 when and if I can “jump” to it after a year of paying for this one on TMO

        • Neo

          Then root your phone and load a stock ROM. Android = options.

          • Nick

            Would but the only computer in my house doesn’t “see” my phone. Nothing happens when I plug it in anymore. Used to work but now just sits there and charges only. Tried everything too as far as troubleshooting goes. Been messing with Android phones since 2009 but this has me stumped

          • jimt

            Reload a backup from when it worked, backup the way it is now, if you want. You could also just wipe it and reinstall windows from scratch. Also could just use a friends computer except he might not want all the android sdk stuff.

          • sirmeili

            Make sure you’re using a Data cable. Some USB cables are “Charge only”. They either have the pins shorted out or not there because phones will charge faster if they don’t have a data connection.

          • d’oh!

            Unless you own a Samsung. :)

    • Jason Kahn

      Nexus 5 stock getting about 18 hours standby 4 hours screen on surfing the web emails etc. Or about 3 hours starving Netflix. I’ll post a screenshot tomorrow to show the battery meter

  • jimt

    Love TMO. Go TMO!

  • Bryan Mills

    Another good reason to switch to T Mobile. Keep doing work Legere.

    • Taokip

      Woah…this post does not match the poster. Did someone sneak into your account and start posting non-cynical post? I kid…mostly.

      And I agree completely! TMo has another perk over the rest.

      • OhHai

        He has his favorites.

        His E-Harmony reads…

        Likes: T-Mobile, LG, and Bridges (the structure).

        Dislikes: Samsung, plastic (unless it is on a G3), and Jeff Bridges (the actor).

        • Bryan Mills

          Don’t hate on The Dude.

          The Plastic is good on the OnePlus, Z line, and G3. The gross plastic bandaid on the S5 isn’t attractive. At all. The faux leather is even worse.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Plastic isn’t bad. Poorly designed/implemented plastic is bad. Preach on, brother.

            I would add most of the Moto X custom backs to that list. Silky to the touch but still grippy. The woven kevlar is nice too, but not strictly “plastic”, so it doesn’t count ;-)

          • Taokip

            The Dude is The Shit…if for nothing else I love Jeff Bridges just for that role alone!

          • schlanz

            I dig your style, too, man

          • Ryan Johnson

            come on man…Verizon DROID Maxx has 48 hour battery life and Kevlar. The plastic can’t go strong, it will break easy.
            I has Droid Maxx it amazing phone but I use to be 4 days single charge.

        • OF

          Dislikes: Lag (unless it’s on the G3)

        • T-Meh

          T-Mo Phones save on Battery because it uses less Power when you Have to Be Connected to WiFi the whole day when you have no Coverage.

      • xsirxx

        For once I actually agree with this weirdo.

      • James

        I agree! If B. Mills / T. Durden is actually changing his ways, I welcome the meaningful input.

    • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

      You forgot to mention the G3.

      By the way, Legere himself isn’t the one to thank for this, that would be the engineers who designed T-Mobiles network ;)

      • T4rd

        … and slam every other OEM.

        • Bryan Mills

          Only Samsung, and they deserve it. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.

          • T4rd

            Nah, I’ve seen you slam HTC several times too.

          • Bryan Mills

            Their ugly bezels and terrible camera, yup

    • Packratako

      Good point but too bad they still have horrible reception than ATT & Verizon even with their VOLTE and wi-fi calling ability.

  • Maxim∑

    that varies on location and signal strength. Has probably nothing to do with bloat

  • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

    I love how they didn’t mention details like signal strength, which is the #1 culprit when it comes to mobile battery life.

    • Bryan Mills

      What are the reasons for the disparity? Laptop Mag ruled out location – they had a writer run the same tests in a different city.

      • OhHai

        They could have done the test on a Tmobs tower perhaps, it isn’t the most scientific of tests. They also only reached out to T-Mobile for comment, perhaps internet monies are what is really at play.

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        They claim the phones had “at least 3 bars”, which could mean T-Mobile had 5, and Verizon had 3. They should have disclosed these variables so we can rule that out as a reason for the results. Besides, two locations is far from being definitive. They easily could have chosen 2 locations which favored one carrier over another.

        • Bryan Mills

          Either way, looks good for T Mobile.

          • Justtyn Hutcheson

            Might make for a good headline, but I doubt it is of much use to those in poor signal areas who get terrible battery life; not just on T-Mobile, but all carriers.

            Wireless is like real-estate: location, location, location.

        • derp hurr-durr

          So you’re saying T-Mobile has better coverage?

          …how strange…

          • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

            Happens a lot all over the country, some carriers work better than others in some areas.

        • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

          Maybe show the dB signal or whatever it’s called that the phone shows you for each phone at each location.

          • Jason Kahn

            Beat me to it, but I agree completely bars are terrible indicators of actual signal strength.

        • Jason Kahn

          Bars are useless indicators of signal strength I would want the actual signal DB reading from the Phone Status menu under about phone, assuming Samsung hasn’t removed it.

  • Stephen D

    “Another contributing factor could be the relative lack of bloatware T-Mobile pre-installs on its devices.”

    This would definitely make sense. This test should be performed again with bloatware disabled to see if it changes anything. I have always noticed battery life improvements after disabling bloatware.

    • OhHai

      From the article…

      “It’s certainly true that T-Mobile limits the preloaded software on its devices. In our Galaxy S5 bloatware removal guide,
      we identified just two apps that we suggested users remove: T-Mobile
      Name ID and T-Mobile TV. Compare that list to seven unwanted apps on the
      Verizon S5, as well as eight other options we said users should only
      consider keeping.

      However, a cleaner software load likely doesn’t account for such a
      big difference in battery life from one carrier to the next. There’s
      something else at play here. Whatever the reasons, we’re certainly not
      complaining.”

    • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

      If they want a fair comparison, they should have used a device like the Nexus, iPhone, or GPE phones.

      • Carlos Lopez

        I agree but they wouldn’t have been able to test verizon’s with a nexus or gpe phones.

        • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

          True, but they could have tested the other 3, and if the results were the same among those 3 they could rule out bloatware.

      • Clift

        I disagree because the typical customer will use what the phone comes with. From that perspective it should be a right out of the box test.

    • T4rd

      If they wanted to find out, they could have just ran the same tests on WiFi. If they saw similar results, then you know it’s the bloat, not the carrier.

    • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

      Or root every phone and run the same custom ROM that has no bloat and the exact same apps.

    • Grayson

      Would like to see results for the US Unlocked or Developer Edition One M8 on AT&T and T-Mo. No bloat or carrier IQ.

  • SefQuiN

    Because when you get 2G everywhere you go it doesn’t waste battery life compared to 4G LTE…..

    • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

      It’s actually worse. If your phone has to sync data, download an e-mail, etc., it takes a LOT longer on 2G than 4G/LTE. Ever take a photo with photo upload enabled when on 1x/2G? The phone gets hot, and you can watch the battery drain.

      • T4rd

        Yup. Battery life on all my Verizon phones would get murdered on 1x compared to 3G or 4G. Usually if I’m in an area where there’s only 1x, I just disable mobile data to keep my phone from killing itself as fast as possible. I wish OEMs would address this and disable background data (or at least give you the option to and have it enabled by default because I’m sure most people don’t know or pay attention to it) while on slower connections like this, as I think it’s a bigger battery killer than anything else for a lot of people in different areas.

        • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

          That would be a good idea. I’m sure it could be done with tasker, but not many people know how to use it. There are many times I go inside a restaurant, and keep my phone in my pocket only to discover after that my phone is almost dead since it was trying to keep everything synced on a very weak connection.

  • OhHai

    If the bloat is disabled it would have to be something else (like CDMA vs GSM radios) I would think. Doesn’t explain the difference between ATT and Tmobs though.

    • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

      CDMA vs GSM is definitely part of it. As for AT&T vs T-Mobile, that could very well come down to who had the best signal.

    • mgamerz

      It could be the frequency it was transmitting on. Some use less power than others.

    • middlehead

      It’s not the type of signal that’s relevant, it’s the broadcast frequencies. T-Mobile tends to run on higher frequencies, which don’t penetrate buildings as well or carry as far, so they have to have more towers to cover the same square footage as AT&T or Verizon. If you live in an area where TMobile has service, you’re much more likely to be near a tower, and thus have “good signal.”