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  1. Thread Author  Thread Author    #1  
    akarol's Avatar

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    Default Consensus: Will leaving GPS ON consume more battery life?

    I understand the effects of leaving 4G, BT, and even 3G for that matter, ON can consume more battery life. However, what's the consensus on GPS. I have it OFF and turn it ON every time I'm using Google Navigation, etc. However, this is getting quite annoying. Will GPS really turn "off" itself if an application is not using it? I heard that the HTC Sense Weather widget will use the GPS for its refreshing and just that alone will affect battery life.

    So what is the final verdict? I feel we've had plenty of time to test our theories by now.
  2. #2  

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    leaving any radio on would, however small it may be. I keep my GPS off and have a toggle switch on one of my pages just in case I decide to use it again. No point in keeping it on if you aren't using any program that utilizes GPS at every waking hour.
  3. #3  

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    Being a (sad) four square nut in NYC i keep GPS on on my phones. Been fine for me...but your mileage may vary.
  4. #4  
    Gekko's Avatar
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    GPS radio consumes significant battery. you are pinging to friggin satellites thousands of miles into space!
  5. #5  

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    Quote Originally Posted by akarol View Post
    I understand the effects of leaving 4G, BT, and even 3G for that matter, ON can consume more battery life. However, what's the consensus on GPS. I have it OFF and turn it ON every time I'm using Google Navigation, etc. However, this is getting quite annoying. Will GPS really turn "off" itself if an application is not using it? I heard that the HTC Sense Weather widget will use the GPS for its refreshing and just that alone will affect battery life.

    So what is the final verdict? I feel we've had plenty of time to test our theories by now.
    Any radio is going to eat battery life..... I went a couple of weeks with it turned "OFF" and then I switched to leaving it "ON" and I can't tell a difference in battery life..... If there is a difference it's so small you won't even notice it... At least not in my experience... Now if your using a GPS hungry app (Navigation) I am sure it eats up a ton of battery.

    I can tell you I have NOT turned my GPS off since the 6.28.10 update and my battery easily last me all day long.. Typically at night when I get ready for bed I am at or around 12 - 14 hours of use with still 40% battery remaining.

    As with any thing and every thing smart phone related it's going to depend on how you use your phone and what App's/Games you use as well. From my day to day use no noticeable difference with it on or off....
  6. #6  

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    Having the GPS simply turned on won't drain your battery if no program is actually using it. No satellite icon. Once a program starts scanning satellites and you see that icon, it will then drain faster.
  7. #7  

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gekko View Post
    GPS radio consumes significant battery. you are pinging to friggin satellites thousands of miles into space!
    You do not ping satellites with GPS -- it is read only (one way, sat to receiver). The sats send time codes and updated location/orbit tables and from that your receiver CALCULATES your position in 3-space. The big power user in GPS has been the CPU to do the calculations, but the receiver eats some to.


    Brian
    PWBarrett likes this.
  8. #8  
    duckwars's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raptor View Post
    You do not ping satellites with GPS -- it is read only (one way, sat to receiver). The sats send time codes and updated location/orbit tables and from that your receiver CALCULATES your position in 3-space. The big power user in GPS has been the CPU to do the calculations, but the receiver eats some to.


    Brian
    I never knew this, but it makes a lot of sense. Makes me wonder how the GPS radio compares to the other radio as far as power use goes (not including the cpu usage)
  9. #9  

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    Quote Originally Posted by duckwars View Post
    I never knew this, but it makes a lot of sense. Makes me wonder how the GPS radio compares to the other radio as far as power use goes (not including the cpu usage)
    Can't really answer that question, but I leave my 3G, BT and GPS radios on pretty much all the time. I've done multiple battery life tests, and typically get 12 to 15 hours on a charge.
  10. #10  
    aditya's Avatar

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    I have tried running my EVO for several days with GPS turned on and turned off, there is negligible impact on battery life just leaving the setting on. Android and most apps are smart about only actually using the gps radio when the app asks for it. (although I have run into a few poorly designed apps that constantly keep the gps radio going in the background even when you jump out to another app)
  11. #11  
    Gekko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raptor View Post
    You do not ping satellites with GPS -- it is read only (one way, sat to receiver). The sats send time codes and updated location/orbit tables and from that your receiver CALCULATES your position in 3-space. The big power user in GPS has been the CPU to do the calculations, but the receiver eats some to.


    Brian
    ping was a bad choice of words. communicate is better.
  12. #12  
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    The confusion stems from people not understanding what the toggle does. Enabling GPS does not actually turn the radio on. It simply allows programs to use the radio when necessary.

    The definitive answer is that enabling GPS uses zero extra power except when location services are actually being used. You'll use more power turning it on and off than just leaving it on all the time.
  13. #13  
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    you'll only see a drastic problem in battery life if it is actively using it for location services.
  14. #14  

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gekko View Post
    ping was a bad choice of words. communicate is better.
    Communicate or ping, the implication is that the GPS radio is somehow reaching out to those satellites, and that's just not the case. It's just listening. The 3G radio uses more power as a transmitter than the GPS does as a receiver.
    Kevin OQuinn likes this.
  15. #15  

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    when i was traveling a week and a half ago i kept forgetting to turn off my gps (i use the toggle widgets) and i would get upset with myself bc i thought i was wasting my battery. but i did not notice a difference in my battery life. i think the radios actually turn themselves off when not in use. for example, you only see the gps icon in the notification bar when you are using an app such as navigation. as soon as you exit out of the app, the icon goes away.

    i could be wrong. it just seems that it's not a battery hog and that it's only used when necessary.
  16. #16  
    Gekko's Avatar
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    the thing for me is that i don't need to leave GPS on 24/7. i have a nice built-in Lexus OEM NAV in my car that's better anyway. i need the EVO GPS only when i'm in a pinch and not in my car or if i need some quick easy location based data. hence - i'll keep it off and turn it on only as needed.
  17. #17  

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    It uses absolutely no power when on, unless you see that GPS satellite symbol in the bar at the top. Disabling GPS just keeps it from turning on when you want it. Thus, disabling GPS is essentially pointless and just an exercise in frustration.
  18. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent Law View Post
    It uses absolutely no power when on, unless you see that GPS satellite symbol in the bar at the top. Disabling GPS just keeps it from turning on when you want it. Thus, disabling GPS is essentially pointless and just an exercise in frustration.
    Quote Originally Posted by dallashigh View Post
    The confusion stems from people not understanding what the toggle does. Enabling GPS does not actually turn the radio on. It simply allows programs to use the radio when necessary.

    The definitive answer is that enabling GPS uses zero extra power except when location services are actually being used. You'll use more power turning it on and off than just leaving it on all the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Raptor View Post
    You do not ping satellites with GPS -- it is read only (one way, sat to receiver). The sats send time codes and updated location/orbit tables and from that your receiver CALCULATES your position in 3-space. The big power user in GPS has been the CPU to do the calculations, but the receiver eats some to.


    Brian
    Quote Originally Posted by Paladin View Post
    Having the GPS simply turned on won't drain your battery if no program is actually using it. No satellite icon. Once a program starts scanning satellites and you see that icon, it will then drain faster.
    You guys all offer up some excellent information. I will definitely be updating the battery life sticky. Having said that, does the green satellite icon turn on when the phone uses WiFi and/or mobile networks (A-GPS) to determine your location? I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I've disabled the use GPS Satellites option in settings before, and the Sense weather app would still update my location without that icon ever turning on. If this is the case, the extra CPU time, that Brian refers to, would still be a factor on battery life.
  19. #19  

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    I don't think the phone can use WiFi to determine your location. That would imply there's already a map of WiFi locations and the phone software can use it. I guess it's possible in places where Google has done it's Street View thing, but to my knowledge the phone doesn't use WiFi for location information.

    To answer your question, I've only seen the satellite icon come on when using a program that accesses GPS, not with programs that use towers for location. For example, using Weather Bug, I normally have the "use GPS" option turned off. I don't see the sat icon come on when it updates data or location. But if I set it to use GPS, then the sat icon will come on when updating. So I don't believe the phone uses the GPS radio when using towers to locate.

    Now then, A-GPS. Assisted-GPS isn't the same as mobile network. A-GPS (which pretty much all phones use, I believe) is a hybrid. With A-GPS the phone uses the mobile network to approximate your location, and passes this info to the GPS software. By knowing your rough location, and the time, the GPS can lock onto the appropriate GPS satellites much more rapidly than if it had to figure out where it is by searching for all the satellites. Once it's locked onto 3 (minimum) or more satellites, though, it switches to using GPS for location services. A-GPS can also use the tower information to allow navigation if you lose the sat. signal temporarily, because of tall buildings or the like.
    Cory Streater likes this.
  20. #20  
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    Thanks for the clarification meyerweb. In regards to WiFi, if you open location settings, there is some verbiage about using WiFi and/or mobile networks. Not a clue how that would work, but it is in there.
  21. #21  

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    Interesting about the WiFi. I'll have to look into how that works.
  22. #22  

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cory Streater View Post
    Thanks for the clarification meyerweb. In regards to WiFi, if you open location settings, there is some verbiage about using WiFi and/or mobile networks. Not a clue how that would work, but it is in there.
    I have my GPS off, but my weather updates based on my mobile network (sprint satellites). It's not exactly accurate as the GPS but it gets close enough.
  23. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cory Streater View Post
    Thanks for the clarification meyerweb. In regards to WiFi, if you open location settings, there is some verbiage about using WiFi and/or mobile networks. Not a clue how that would work, but it is in there.
    Remember the recent news stories about Google being investigated in Europe for (apparently inadvertently) recording data transmitted via WiFi while the Street View cars were driving around?

    I believe that recording transmitted data was an accident. But they were intentionally collecting WiFi access point data (MAC address plus GPS coordinates) for use as a part of location services. WiFi is a rather short range technology, so detecting a known access point gives a pretty fine grained location by a simple lookup, no need to see satellites or perform a fairly compute-intensive GPS calculation.

    You can hear 5A234CFF0A? I know that one! You must be on the 200 block of Main Street in Podunk, Kansas.
    Cory Streater likes this.
  24. #24  
    r-nice's Avatar

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    I leave mine on all the time and have only seen the GPS icon pop up once and that was when starting up Where and trying to find my location.
  25. #25  

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    I just did a quick test.

    Left GPS on for 3 hours and checked the battery usage. I didn't use any apps that use GPS, and the GPS usage wasn't even listed as having used any battery. Might show over a little more time, but idle GPS looks like it's basically nil as far as drawing power.
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