Here’s how 5G could be impacting your iPhone’s battery life

By | March 21, 2022

Apple has gradually brought 5G to almost its entire product lineup, starting with the iPhone 12 and expanding most recently to the iPhone SE, iPad Air, and iPad mini. While we’ve long known that 5G can have an impact on your device’s battery life, a new test from The Wall Street Journal puts the situation into perspective…

How 5G can affect your iPhone’s battery life

The test, which The Wall Street Journal acknowledges isn’t necessarily perfect, consisted of streaming a YouTube video with the quality set to “auto.” The test was perfumed on the iPhone SE 3, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 mini, and iPad Air – and repeated on 5G and LTE.

The results of the test clearly show that 5G can have a noticeable impact on iPhone and iPad battery life. But more interestingly, however, is the difference in battery performance between T-Mobile and Verizon. The report explains:

So, I wanted to compare 5G and 4G battery performance for myself. I streamed a long YouTube video of relaxing ocean footage, with video quality set to “Auto,” on different Apple devices until they ran out of battery, first on 5G, then on LTE. It isn’t a perfect test, but it proved to be a consistent way to witness 5G’s added battery drain.

That’s why the most important takeaway from this experiment is the difference in battery performance over the two types of networks: T-Mobile 4G and 5G for the iPhone SE and 13 Pro; Verizon 4G and 5G for the iPhone 13 Mini and new iPad Air. Just note, the time a device lasts doesn’t say much on its own, since this isn’t real-life behavior (unless watching 10-hour oceanscapes while out on the town is your thing).

As you can see in the chart above, the iPhone SE 3 lasted for an hour longer on 5G than when connected to 4G. The iPad Air and iPhone 13 mini each lasted for around 1.5 hours longer, while the iPhone 13 Pro lasted for 2.5 hours longer.

An important note here is that none of the iPhones involved in these tests ever connected to ultra-powerful mmWave 5G. Instead, they connected to sub-6GHz 5G, which offers slower speeds than mmWave, but theoretically has less of an impact on battery life.

The full report at The Wall Street Journal is well worth a read. You can learn more about adjusting 5G settings on your iPhone or iPad in our detailed tutorial right here.

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