Still an Impact while Mostly Idle? The Email Test

Web browsing is an obvious stress test for battery life, but what about checking your email throughout the day?  In our iPhone review we found that the Blackberry Curve can last over a full 24 hours, all while constantly checking email.  Neither the Samsung Blackjack or the iPhone came anywhere close, but it's still a valid test for battery life using these various connections.

For this review we went with a much lighter email load test than what was used in our iPhone review.  Both phones were setup to automatically check a gmail account every 15 minutes, downloading 10 - 15 emails each time.  The phones were completely idle during the 15 minutes in between checks, although the screens remained turned on throughout the entire test. 

On 3G the Blackjack lasted slightly longer than on EDGE, but we're only talking about a 3.5% difference which is within the margin of error for this test, meaning that battery life on 3G vs. EDGE is basically identical. 

This test is particularly important as it shows that if your usage is dominated by extensive periods of idle time, then there's no negative impact to 3G vs. EDGE.  Another way of looking at it is that if all you're doing is short bursts of data traffic, the negative impact of 3G is minimized. 

The same can't be said about Wi-Fi vs. EDGE on the iPhone where there's about a 25% increase in battery life when we ran the test over Wi-Fi instead of EDGE; the difference is identical to what we saw in the web browsing test.  It appears that maintaining the Wi-Fi connection and using it to periodically check for email is significantly more power efficient than doing so over EDGE, despite the reduction in data traffic compared to our web browsing test. 

It seems to be that how much data you send isn't the only limiting factor, but rather just polling for new data is much more power efficient over Wi-Fi.

Faster Browsing, but a Quarter Less Battery Life A CPU Bound Case: Streaming YouTube Videos


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  • Tegeril - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    No, because EDGE is disabled for data during voice calls and Wifi remains on. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - link

    Well, explain that to me how was I talking with a friend and browsing DT at the same time with my nokia now ?

    Even the good old GPRS allows for simultanious data/voice scenario, that is actually one of the points of the packet-based technologies.

    If you have standard 4+2 GPRS/EDGE timeslots available you just have the bandwith during call reduced to 3+1 scenario as voice requires 1+1 slots for its operation.

    The other thing is if you have phone bad enough that manufacturer disabled/did not implement this functionality...

    Even my P800 form 2003 coud do that FYI..
  • DavenJ - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    No he's right it should say EDGE. Phone calls can only come over the EDGE network and not through Wifi. This is a measure of talk time which would mean a phone call. It would be nice, however, do have VoIP through Wifi for those cases where your either roaming or in a dead spot. Reply
  • michael2k - Saturday, July 14, 2007 - link

    It's not a typo, you misunderstand the test.

    It's talk time with a broadband connection turned on. You can, theoretically, turn wifi off during talk to extend the iPhone life, but for a comparison between 3G and WiFi battery life they were talking with, respectively, 3G and WiFi on.
  • VooDooAddict - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    WiFi for voice would be very nice. They could even charge me the same minute fees/bucket. There are plenty of homes with very good wifi coverage but crappy wireless cell coverage... works almost like a signal booster.
  • Ataraxia - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    I'm pretty sure you guys are all wrong.

    The iPHone has just enough features so people will go out and buy it in rabid frenzy, while the next iteration (in probably 6 months) containing 3G, Thinner/Lighter, etc will push people like ME to buy it (The educated consumer, who really does know how backwards the innards of an iPhone actually is), plus everyone who bought the first generation will dump theirs for the much faster data transfers and buy a second gen iPhone.

    It's all about business and the $$
  • BigLan - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    I wonder if the iphone youtube results are so good because the device buffers the video. It could be that you only download the file once, then play it back from cache. Could you maybe repeat the test with different clips every time to see if this is the case?

    Also, are you saying that youtube clips on iphone/wifi look better than on a desktop?
  • DaveLessnau - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    If Apple simply went with a user-replaceable battery, most of this problem (not the space issue) would go away. I'm not in the market for a cell phone, but that one point (the battery) drops the iPhone out of the competition for me. Reply
  • Shintai - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    Why would anyone, atleast outside the US mobile network, get an iPhone? Its 3-4 years behind atleast.

    Take a cheaper nokia n95. You get gps, video calls (DVD quality, 30fps), TV, msn, 5Mpixel cam, MMS, 3Mbit internet, longer battery life and so on. On a 3.5G network for less than an iPhone.

    The iPhone is like buying a 800Mhz P3 in a fancy design today. Inferiour products for extreme prices. The last sucker aint born yet.
  • sxr7171 - Monday, July 16, 2007 - link

    N95 is not cheaper buddy. I dropped $750 on mine. Reply

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