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T-Mobile Smartphones Outlast Competitors' Identical Models

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the power-function dept.

Cellphones 127

An anonymous reader writes Laptop Mag battery tested the leading phones on all four major U.S. carriers and found that the same models on T-Mobile typically last 1 to 3 hours longer on a charge. This trend is not new, but has continued for over 3 years of testing. The article says While we don’t know for certain why T-Mobile phones last longer on a charge, there are some strong possibilities. T-Mobile’s network could be more efficient at sending and receiving data because of the bands it uses, or maybe there are far fewer customers on its LTE network, easing the strain. Another possibility is that T-Mobile tends to pre-load less bloatware on its flagship devices relative to the other carriers. AT&T is firmly in second place in the battery life findings presented, with Verizon and Sprint jockeying for last of the four carriers measured. It woud be interesting to see a similar test battery for phones in marginal reception areas; searching for service seems to deplete my battery faster than talking does.

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No towers in range? (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609421)

I thought a phone was using maximum RF power when it was looking for a tower to talk to?

Re:No towers in range? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609629)

From TFA:

"... and make sure that it’s receiving at least 3 bars of service."

Re:No towers in range? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609849)

Wow, that's a really precise measurement.

Re:No towers in range? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47610275)

Exactly. But there may still be some merit to the study. Interestingly, Android L will have enhanced battery usage feedback.

Re:No towers in range? (4, Informative)

tibit (1762298) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609631)

Usually, a terrestrial phone doesn't need to do anything much to "look" for a tower, besides keeping its receiver turned on. Towers emit beacons, and if you don't hear the beacon, there's no point in you sending anything - you won't receive a reply because you don't even hear the tower's beacon.

Re:No towers in range? (2)

heypete (60671) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609865)

Usually, a terrestrial phone doesn't need to do anything much to "look" for a tower, besides keeping its receiver turned on. Towers emit beacons, and if you don't hear the beacon, there's no point in you sending anything - you won't receive a reply because you don't even hear the tower's beacon.

Indeed, many (most? all?) phones won't transmit at all unless they hear the tower's beacon, since it's possible they could have been moved to a jurisdiction where it is not allowed for them to transmit on certain frequencies they would otherwise use.

Of course, keeping the receiver powered to listen for the beacon does use a not-inconsiderable amount of power, so searching for signal will use more power than a phone that is connected to the network and idle.

Re:No towers in range? (2)

TWX (665546) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610969)

That doesn't jive with my results though. At work, if I'm in the building in the center all day without appreciable service my phone doesn't last the day. If I'm at an outside wall, my phone barely makes it through the day without any significant usage, barely getting one bar. If I'm out and about I've had service work on standby for couple of days when I've forgotten to charge it overnight.

Admittedly we are right between a major power substation and high-voltage transmission lines, and there's a cell-tower out back; I don't know what carriers.

Re:No towers in range? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month and a half ago | (#47612195)

Phones do use more power when the signal is poor if roaming is turned on. They will try other frequencies and networks, rather than just waiting for the signal to come back.

Re:No towers in range? (2)

heypete (60671) | about a month and a half ago | (#47612695)

That doesn't jive with my results though. At work, if I'm in the building in the center all day without appreciable service my phone doesn't last the day. If I'm at an outside wall, my phone barely makes it through the day without any significant usage, barely getting one bar. If I'm out and about I've had service work on standby for couple of days when I've forgotten to charge it overnight.

That seems to match with what I'm saying: when the phone is constantly searching for signals it has the receiver enabled all the time and the gain turned up to maximum, using more power. When it is in an area of low-but-there signal, the receiver isn't powered up as often, but the gain is still high, so it uses a medium amount of power. When you're out in the open and there's lots of signal, the receiver isn't powered up as often and the gain is low, so it uses the least amount of power.

I apologize if I wasn't clear before.

Re:No towers in range? (1)

batkiwi (137781) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610847)

It increases gain on the amplifier, which uses more power.

Listening costs power, and listening "harder" costs more power.

Re:No towers in range? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610977)

At work my office was in the center of the building and we had an AT&T amplifier. When I moved to Verizon (which we didn't have an amplifier for), my phone would constantly switch between 4G/LTE, 3G, and 1X, all getting about one bar. The Verizon phone would get burning hot and drain very fast even when not in use and no apps running (but just in the office... outside, it had about the same decent experience as the AT&T phone).

I'm not going to pretend to know exactly what it is doing. But my only hope was to put together a Tasker script to turn off the cell radios while at work; that saved the battery and required me to forward calls to my work phone.

Re:No towers in range? (5, Interesting)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610769)

When a phone has signal, the back channel includes information about neighboring cells. So, it knows where to look for the next back channel. Only a few frequencies to tune to. The problem starts when contact is lost. Phones use power looking for a signal. Re-tuning the receiver is not free.
They continuously tune over a series of frequencies looking for one. And keep cycling through them.
This bitter cycle of finding nothing uses up a phones battery very quickly. Before smart phones it was the single largest power user.
This is an OLD problem. It was well known in the industry in 1990.

I started writing software for cell phone companies in 1990. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about how cell phones work. Moved on to a different industry in 2000. Some things don't change. At least not quickly.

Re:No towers in range? (1)

sjames (1099) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611559)

The real killer is when they can 'see' the tower but just barely. That forces them to transmit at max power to stay in contact. If they can't see a tower at all, they don't transmit.

False data... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609425)

Ok so i have a Tmo Phone i know for a face that almost all of my flagship devices on this carrier have larger batteries compared to any friends on other networks.

Re:False data... (5, Funny)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609595)

Ok, so I did an anecdotal apples-to-oranges comparison between different phones on different networks and noticed that my phone was different, so that means that the apples-to-apples comparison the researchers did must be wrong, even though they explicitly controlled for that factor.

I think this is what you said. Let me know if I mistranslated.

Re:False data... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47610321)

>Didn't RTFA so don't know they compared the same four phones on each of the four networks, with sixteen phones tested in all.

I think this is what you said. Let me know if I mistranslated.

Re:False data... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610721)

You're seriously arguing about this because they didn't use the exact same physical units across all four carriers for each of the four phones? Come on.

Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (0, Troll)

Galaga88 (148206) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609435)

They only tested Android smartphones. So we don't know if this is something specific to Android or not. Not like anybody uses iPhones, huh?

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (5, Interesting)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609501)

The iPhone would actually be a more effective test because iPhones tend to be identical regardless of what carrier you are on. I'm extremely surprised they did not test the iPhone for this reason.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (0)

Sable Drakon (831800) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609569)

15% is why. iOS is becoming an irrelevant minority.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (3, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609643)

They were at 41% for the three-month period ending in May [comscore.com] . Two factors to keep in mind here: this research pertains specifically to US carriers, so it makes sense to look specifically at US market share, and we're specifically looking at smartphones, not the general cellular market. Globally, Apple's market share is significantly lower than in the US, even more so once you factor in non-smartphones, so I don't doubt that 15% is probably accurate somewhere for some set of conditions, but it isn't applicable in this particular case. 41% is the applicable number in this case.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609975)

It could also be that 15% refers to sales marketshare (i.e., new users) instead of subscriber marketshare (i.e., existing userbase). It's completely conceivable that maybe 41% of smartphones being used by people today are iPhones, but 15% of new phones sold are iPhones. (If that were the case, it would imply that lots of people were trading in their iPhones for Androids.)

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610049)

Certainly so, and that's something worth considering since it's an excellent point. In this particular situation, however, that doesn't seem to be the case, given that they exhibited subscriber share growth that ever-so-slightly outpaced the cumulative Android subscriber growth rate for the top Android OEMs listed in the survey. That said, I suspect that if the more marginal Android OEMs were also considered, Apple may have been ever-so-slightly behind instead of ahead, but that doesn't matter either way, since it'd still paint a picture of a company with a sales share that is roughly proportional to its subscriber share. Which is to say, around 40%.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

praxis (19962) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610059)

It could also be that 15% refers to sales marketshare (i.e., new users) instead of subscriber marketshare (i.e., existing userbase). It's completely conceivable that maybe 41% of smartphones being used by people today are iPhones, but 15% of new phones sold are iPhones. (If that were the case, it would imply that lots of people were trading in their iPhones for Androids.)

That implication only holds if iPhone users replace their phone as often as other phones. (That might be true, but the fact that 15% of new sales are iPhone does not imply iPhone users are buying Androids. Androids make a very good first smart phone and might be capturing the non-smartphone or new-to-phone market or children market). We need to look at a lot more data than what you quoted to make your conclusion.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

moosehooey (953907) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610117)

Or it could mean that people keep their iPhones longer.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611479)

nope.. it's just that the one's who came up with 41% used their own, twisted, value based non technical definition of "smartphone".

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610677)

41% is still a minority. are we done w/ iphone v. android for the day?

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610687)

No one is arguing that they're not a minority. I'm just contradicting the "irrelevant" qualifier that is clearly mistaken with regards to the US market.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609687)

Why is this fanboy bunk modded at +2?

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609779)

lol! I'm looking forward to the fangirls realization that google is the new microsoft.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609937)

And I suppose YOU voted for kodos? am I rite?

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609989)

"fangirl" because calling someone a "girl" is so much more insulting.

As an Apple user, you really should try to think different next time.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47610871)

Think adjective, use adverb.

Therefore, "think differently".

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47611149)

or... because "Sable" is a feminine name.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (4, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609733)

iPhones tend to be identical regardless of what carrier you are on.

Not really. There are nearly as many differences with iPhones as there are with any Android phone that's on multiple carriers, and that's been the case from the start. For instance, when they did their first release for Verizon back in 2011, they incorporated a different antenna design than they had in the AT&T model, partially to deal with the antennagate issue and partially because of Verizon's use of CDMA. You could tell by just looking at the exterior which network someone's iPhone 4 belonged to, since the "gaps" were in different places around the casing.

And the situation really hasn't changed much. They still sell separate CDMA and GSM models in the US and out of the US, with different frequency bands being active depending on your locale and network. Wikipedia lists seven different versions for the iPhone 5s alone, 2 CDMA and 5 GSM.

They may eventually unify all of those with a single, future design, I suppose, but that hasn't happened yet.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (3, Informative)

praxis (19962) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610083)

iPhones tend to be identical regardless of what carrier you are on.

Not really. There are nearly as many differences with iPhones as there are with any Android phone that's on multiple carriers,

That's true for hardware differences. Software differences skew this gap far wider. An AT&T iPhone's software is far more similar to a Verizon iPhone's software than a similar comparison for Androids.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611067)

An AT&T iPhone's software is far more similar to a Verizon iPhone's software than a similar comparison for Androids.

But an unlocked dual-SIM CDMA/GSM phone would have no differences across either network?

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611653)

an unlocked dual-SIM CDMA/GSM phone

Isn't quite so easy to find on the shelves of major U.S. retail chains, as I understand it.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a month and a half ago | (#47612451)

But quite easy to order and have delivered for testing purposes. And much cheaper than a similar phone in a major retail chain.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610307)

They simply disable CDMA in the AT&T/T-Mobile version. The Verizon version has both CDMA and GSM and frequencies for all three carriers.

- posted from a "Verizon" iPhone I bought new contract-free and only ever used with a T-Mobile SIM .

The Sprint version is significantly different.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611179)

They may eventually unify all of those with a single, future design, I suppose, but that hasn't happened yet.

They already did.

The iPhone 4s was GSM/CDMA. There was only one 4s.

As far as the 5s (from Apple's site). All of their phones support GSM. The difference is support for CDMA and the LTE bands they support.

Model A1533 (GSM)*: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25)

Model A1533 (CDMA)*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25)

Model A1453*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26)

Model A1457*: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20)

Model A1530*: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20); TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40)

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47612019)

Why would they do one unified phone then change their minds not to? It doesn't make any sense. The 533 and the 453 also have exactly the same band support... Seems pointless to make two identical phones...

Something's not right..

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

c (8461) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609743)

The iPhone would actually be a more effective test...

Depends on what you're testing. It'd be a great test of network and frequency efficiencies. It would be an incredibly lousy test of Android bloatware.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610017)

You know, the bloatware argument matches my experience. The last two upgrades, my wife and I bought phones from different manufacturers. Very similar hardware, but the nameplate I bought is known to use a very vanilla Android, and hers is from a company that throws all kinds of bloatware on. Each time, her phone died about 4-6 months sooner than mine, with very similar usage patterns.

Anecdotal, of course, but it's part of my reasoning for keeping my phones pretty vanilla.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610961)

I have two prepaid cellphones, one from Verizon (it says Alltel on the phone from the days before transition) and one from T-mobile, which currently has like 80 cents left on it. Both are LG now, though I've been through a few Samsung and Nokia ones that ended up defective on the T-mobile side, but LG seems to be an amazing brand. The LG on the Verizon/Alltel is so plain vanilla that it does not even have a camera, and I love it. Also, whoever in their right mind would buy a smartphone? Having a smartphone means you get away from the computer and sit on the web with the smartphone, more and more, and as far as I know, cell phones and smartphones won't even start up without a SIM card, or run completely off the network, and you're constantly getting snooped on, and with the cloud coming, all your data will be held hostage with you getting blackmailed for access. My little HP Mini Laptop is nice in that if I don't wanna be on the network, I pull the Ethernet cable out of the socket, and it still works, unlike a smartphone, that's off the network, it's almost useless. Even hitting the pause button on top of the cable modem, or powering off a wifi connection where the LED light is off, indicating it's off, it's no guarantee that its not actually on, just pretending to be off. It gets very complicated to bypass a plain wire connection, as if I yank the 100Base-TX cable from the Ethernet socket, and the Internet is still on, and the computer acts like somebody hacked into it and it's getting remote controlled, something is not kosher and they got some explanation to do. If they made a smartphone that can go off network, or function without a build in SIM, just a plugin SIM, and run fine even without any SIM present, I might be interested, if the price is good. But I don't really see what I'd use it for. Also, if I yanked the SIM out of the socket, hot-plug style, it should still work, but without any network activity, as in if it were a fake, makebelieve SIM socket, and the whole thing actually ran off of a built in SIM, but the device also takes into consideration the SIM you plugged in, when reporting things to you.

Smartphones can use Wi-Fi (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611689)

as far as I know, cell phones and smartphones won't even start up without a SIM card

I'm told smartphones with no SIM work on Wi-Fi to roughly the same extent as an iPod touch or Wi-Fi-only tablet.

Re:Smartphones can use Wi-Fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47612023)

Yup, I've had pretty much every phone I own save the really really cheap phones ($100 off contract) run without SIM cards. I've used even flip phones as dedicated media / game players before. Sony Ericsson Z800, W380a, Nexus One, Galaxy Nexus and a Galaxy S5 off the top of my head all work without a SIM.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47612059)

I have first hand knowledge that an iPhone 5c without a SIM card, will boot and is fully functional except for the telephone functions.
It will show NoSIM at the top left corner where it normally shows your carrier.

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610553)

The iPhone would actually be a more effective test because iPhones tend to be identical regardless of what carrier you are on.

That's not true. The iPhone 5s itself has eight different models.

A1533 or A1457 or A1530: iPhone 5s (GSM model)
A1533 or A1453: iPhone 5s (CDMA model)
A1518 or A1528 or A1530: iPhone 5s (GSM model China)

Re: Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47612039)

Why aren't you including the "c" versions? There's probably be about 8 of those to, making it 16.

Re:Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609747)

...we don't know if this is something specific to Android or not. Not like anybody uses iPhones, huh?

I have heard that some people use iPhones but in truth they seem to be going the way of the necktie.

Re:Correction: T-Mobile Android Smartphones (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610985)

That's a shame, as a necktie is the only proper piece of clothing to wear while having sex.

network config (4, Interesting)

Maxx169 (920414) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609497)

My bet - different CDRX settings, fast dormancy, idle timers. Is probably a better engineered network.

Re:network config (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609625)

It could also be that they are testing from the same place (their offices) which happens to have a T-mobile tower much closer by, so the raw Tx/Rx tower needed would be a lot less.

Re:network config (1)

Maxx169 (920414) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609797)

True enough. Just out-and-out assuming that they arrived at a legitimate result is a rookie mistake. The comment in the article "receiving at least 3 bars of service" makes me pretty worried that they didn't control for constant UeTx power particularly well (some tests might have 3 bars, some 4, some 5 - and yeah, reported bars are based on DL measurements, but there is a good correlation between RSRP (or RSCP) and UeTx Power)... So, another meaningless result due to failed experimental design.

Re:network config (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610025)

So a phone that gets generally fewer bars could die sooner than one that enjoys a stronger signal? I hadn't thought of that.

Re:network config (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610941)

My bet - different CDRX settings, fast dormancy, idle timers. Is probably a better engineered network.

Pretty much this. I used to have a Galaxy Nexus which I bought outright (pure Android, no carrier crap) and on Telstra in Australia it would last 2+ days on a single charge. I took it to the US and put an AT&T SIM card in it and it lasted 1-1.5 days, back to Australia on Telstra and it was 2+ days again. Usage of my phone actually decreased over this time as I wasn't using it for work, so the difference cant be explained by additional use.

Re:network config (1)

tlim (590309) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611101)

VzW are sticklers about those as well, in terms of fast dormancy and idle timers.

I suspect it could be more in line with congestion and RAN hopping and reduced tower output to help deal with congestion.

Re:network config (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month and a half ago | (#47612689)

It's most likely the frequencies they operate on.

I develop sensor products that use the mobile networks to send data back to a server. Since the sensors are battery powered we are extremely concerned with power consumption. It is well known that as the frequency increases you need more power to get the same range, and sure enough networks that operate on lower frequencies (800/900MHz as opposed to 1800/1900/2000MHz) cause the modem to use a lot less energy when connected to them.

For that reason we recommend our customers choose a network that operates on a low frequency for maximum battery life. Low frequency networks also tend to have better range and propagation anyway.

Test with unlocked phone? (4, Insightful)

BaronM (122102) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609531)

It would be interesting to know if an unlocked AT&T phone moved to T-mobile's network suddenly lasts longer.

Re:Test with unlocked phone? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609567)

It wouldn't find any data on it's frequency. So yes.

A multiband phone would be a better test mule.

Re:Test with unlocked phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609835)

...phones in the US are specific to a single company's frequencies!?

Not exactly, but yes (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609877)

All iPhones sold in the U.S. can be used in most other countries - they are multiband.

But, for example, I have a Verizon iPhone. If I want to move to T-Mobile I have to get a new phone. I think T-Mobile's frequency for data is one not used elsewhere in the world, even though T-Mobile is a GSM provider. I think you can move between AT&T & T-Mobile freely (both GSM). I believe over time this will iron out more...

It's a mess to be sure.

Re:Not exactly, but yes (1)

mauriceh (3721) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609917)

Not true.
T-Mobile in USA, Wind Mobile ( Canada) , Vodaphone (Europe) use the same bands.

I thought they were different tech (1)

goldcd (587052) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609943)

AT&T & T-mobile were GSM in the states, and the rest were CDMA... but could be wrong. You're at least partially right about the bands though. As a visitor to the US, I pretty much stick to AT&T as they use the same bands as most of the world (i.e. ones my phone can do). T-Mobile I think uses one regular band, but also a rare non-standardish one.

Re:I thought they were different tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47611781)

Most of T-mobile's 3G network in on the 1700MHz band and I have seen several examples of GSM phones that don't support that band because AT&T doesn't use it. A good example recently is the Moto G.

So you are correct, T-Mobile is a GSM carrier, but it's not always that simple.

Re:Not exactly, but yes (2)

SydShamino (547793) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610387)

You are incorrect. I am posting from a "Verizon" iPhone which I bought, unlocked , from an Apple store, then popped in a T-Mobile SIM. It works fine.* The Verizon iPhone has all CDMA and GSM frequencies for all three networks (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon).

I bought the Verizon version so that I could use it in Korea. T-Mobile provides free data there but you have to have a CDMA-capable phone. Also, I was new to T-Mobile and if their coverage sucked I liked the ability to move to either AT&T or Verizon.

* T-Mobile recognizes it as an "unknown smart phone" since it doesn't broadcast the correct model number. I get full LTE speed data, voice, text, with graceful downgrades to 4G, 3G, and E, but I can't use iPhone specific features like visual voice mail.

Re:Not exactly, but yes (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610409)

Also, I had no problems using the phone's data in other parts of Asia, nor did colleagues on T-Mobile (who had T-Mobile phones). They just didn't get service in Korea.

Re:Test with unlocked phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47610047)

...phones in the US are specific to a single company's frequencies!?

Um.. No... Perhaps this is true for the old Spring PCS network and the rest of the GSM based world, but Sprint PCS is dead. Now days, generally all US phones work on any carrier once they are unlocked. I just gave my old AT&T iPhone 4 to a friend on T-Mobile and once it was unlocked, it worked just fine.

Re:Test with unlocked phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609997)

I actually have several unlocked AT&T phones that I use on T-mobile that work fine: Lumia 920 and Sony Xperia T.

I took advantage of the 'we'll pay your ETF' deal, and kept the phones. Even though I have an actual T-mobile phone, I like my 920 as a daily driver and the Sony is for when I need Android for whatever reason. I have no issues with using either of them for voice or data (LTE) on T-mobile's network.

Re:Test with unlocked phone? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a month and a half ago | (#47612099)

It depends on where you are. T-Mo has been "refarming" their frequencies over the last two years, so now AT&T phones, once unlocked, just work (using LTE) on T-Mo in several large metro areas, like Seattle.

Re:Test with unlocked phone? Band Proximity Factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609921)

For another data point: I got a Dell Streak from eBay a few years ago that was factory unlocked. My understanding is that meant it had radio bands at that time for AT+T (HSPA/HSDPA+ I think?). I got the cheap T-Mobile prepay plan, $30/month for 100 minutes talk, unlimited text, 4GB data at "3G" speeds, then throttled back to 2G for any over that limit (it was going to be an experiment in heavy Android usage as mostly a secondary data phone vs my Verizon main phone then, a Windows Mobile Imagio).

At that time, T-Mobile was just starting to buy and phase in those bands that they had bought from AT&T, but I mostly just got Edge network, so slow (and no danger of hitting 4GB in a month...). As they started to build out the network for switching the faster HSPDA+ from whatever bands they had been using to the AT&T bands my phone started showing that "H" on the top status bar in my travels around the area more than the "E" (Edge), and it was/is a lot faster, WHEN it is strong. However, at my house and workplace it is constantly fluctuating between the H and the E, indicating that I am in a "boundary" zone between the 2 types of signals at those places, and that runs my battery down FAST. If I lock the phone setting to "GSM" only, instead of the default, "GSM/WCDMA auto", then the battery lasts much longer, but then so does the time needed for data transmissions.

I have since upgraded from the WM 6.5 Imagio to several VzW Android's in turn, Moto Bionic, Samsung Note 2, Moto Razr HD (Note was just too big to tote around on my belt), and their LTE has not really been much faster, if any, than T-Mo's HSDPA+ when it is a strong signal, BUT I get VzW's LTE in a lot more places (including home and work), so the batteries have usually lasted just fine, although I almost always have the phones plugged in with USB power in the car, at work, and at home.

Still, the times I roam around unplugged show the VzW phones hold up fine as long as the signal is reasonably strong, which has not been the case for the T-Mo Streak. I would be interested to know how much effort was made in the testing to stay in strong signal zones for the respective carriers with their phones - it makes a HUGE difference in my experience.

FWIW

Re:Test with unlocked phone? Band Proximity Factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47612591)

tl;dr

Re:Test with unlocked phone? YES (1)

micron (164661) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611007)

I took an unlocked Nokia 1520 from AT&T, to T-Mobile, to Consumer Cellular.
Originally, on AT&T, I could not make it through a complete day on a single charge. Took it off the charger at 4:30AM. Battery was dead by 3pm.
Took phone to t-mobile. Off charger at 4:30AM, phone still had a quarter charge left at 10:30PM when I plugged it back in.
Now on Consumer Cellular. Same phone. AT&T is the service provider to Consumer Cellular. Battery is not making it through the day again.

Usage patterns are similar through all three carriers. I did not do any rigorous scientific tests on this. This is observational usage data.

Re:Test with unlocked phone? (1)

Solandri (704621) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611561)

Just test it with a Nexus 5. The ones you buy from Google are unlocked and there's only one version which works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint (technically the hardware is capable of mostly working on Verizon, except Verizon blacklists it). Just pop in a SIM card for the different carriers and test away.

And T-mobiles software is terrible... (4, Informative)

Nerobro (303656) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609535)

And this is with t-mobiles software installed. With a clean phone, the T-mobile "my account" software is the highest usage bit of software on the phone. Disabling it was worth hours of runtime.

Re:And T-mobiles software is terrible... (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610209)

How can you even tell? When I go to view the power usage details it says "Android System" at about 90%, with all of the games and apps I've installed taking up the remaining 10%. I'd love to tell how much power the bluetooth uses, for example, but it's apparently included in "Android System". The native internet browser is also included there. In fact, pretty much anything I'd like to actually test is included in the big bundle.

Re:And T-mobiles software is terrible... (2)

stephanruby (542433) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610441)

And this is with t-mobiles software installed. With a clean phone, the T-mobile "my account" software is the highest usage bit of software on the phone. Disabling it was worth hours of runtime.

I have real trouble believing you.

Here are the "Battery Use Details" stats from my T-Mobile LG G3:
23% Screen
13% Android OS
11% Cell standby
11% Phone idle
8% Android System
7% Google Play Services
6% Wi-fi
5% YourBus AC Transit
2% GUNSHIP BATTLE
2% Mediaserver
1% System Manager Application

Granted, mine is not a clean phone. And it does seem like the ugly purple "my account" application is running all the time because it's always shown when you pull down the notification bar. But I'm really surprised that the "my account" application would consume more battery than even your screen, or the Android OS. In my case, the "my account" application isn't even listed as one of the top 11 (although, admittedly I did increase the timeout of my screen, so that could be one explanation the screen is deemed the #1 app that consumes the most battery). And I did disable the Lookout Mobile trial that usually comes pre-loaded on T-Mobile phones.

Bloatware/Stalking (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609541)

My satoshi on this.

Let's reconvene at an appropriate time to proclaim winners.

Perhaps.. (1)

Sable Drakon (831800) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609551)

I'd like to see what this test looks like with all the phones involved running the same software load. i.e. No Verizon crapware. Just scout out a handset available on all 4 carriers, install Cyanogenmod on one and leave a second one stock. Then we should get a more accurate picture of what's going on here.

Re:Perhaps.. (1)

Will_Malverson (105796) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609623)

If you have a Verizon phone, there's no way to get rid of the Verizon crapware, other than the barely-legal nuclear option of rooting your phone. So if you're going to test Verizon, it's reasonable to have the crapware be part of the test.

Re:Perhaps.. (1)

Sable Drakon (831800) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610563)

If you're testing to see if the battery drain is hardware vs network vs software, then it actually is reasonable to have a phone tested that has no Verizon bloatware at all, but still able to access the network. To do it comprehensively, across all 4 major US carriers, you'd need 8 phones. Four of them are carrier stock, no modifications at all, and updated to the most recent carrier approved version of Android. The remaining four are CyanogenMod flashed to the equivilent version that the carrier allows. i.e. the Verizon Stock phone only goes up to 4.3, then the Verizon CM phone gets flashed to the same Android version. At that point, you're able to test to see if carrier bloatware has an effect from any of them and which device lasts regardless.

Re:Perhaps.. (0)

wolrahnaes (632574) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609653)

Just use a Nexus 5 and an iPhone. Both clean representations of their respective platforms without carrier bullshit, so it's a fair comparison of the networks themselves and nothing more.

Re:Perhaps.. (1)

Sable Drakon (831800) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610661)

Yeah, except you can't use a Nexus 5 on Verizon to run that portion of the network vs software tests.

Re:Perhaps.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609745)

Cyanogenmod does not replace the entire firmware. There are closed source parts in separate partitions. That said, I'd expect that the differences persist, at least partially, because accessing the network is a significant part of the power consumption and there are lots of possible influences, for example the frequencies and protocols used, congestion, base station density and hysteresis and the frequency with which phones report their presence to the network. This also means that your mileage may vary, depending on the network configuration in your vicinity.

Re:Perhaps.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609903)

The original point was an entirely valid one though, 4 absolutely identical handsets checked across the networks (and no, no-one actually GAF whether rooting is near-illegal) - soon see exactly how much of the battery usage is purely down to network design differences.

Re:Perhaps.. (1)

Sable Drakon (831800) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610587)

True, but that's the point that a I posit. But the way I'd run the experiment would see if carrier bloat has that much of an impact or if it's solely a network/hardware reason for the battery drain.

And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47609555)

according to the Colbert Report, they're great for clearing up constipation!

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/p4t1a2/vibrant-constipation-pill

Simple test on the bloatware hypothesis (1)

chrisgeleven (514645) | about a month and a half ago | (#47609685)

Test with iPhones. No pre-loaded carrier bloatware, same exact OS across all carriers.

It's definitely based upon the channel (1)

tlim (590309) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610057)

There's N channels for each radio technology: 1XRTT, 3G, EVDO-RevA and RevB, LTE, etc.
The phone gets informed by the carrier which channel it is on, and depending on the channel, it will bring up the antenna more, or less often, to receive things like SMS, PTT, that should come in a timely manner. There are many strategies to keep the traffic channel up, or to trip and dip into the network less frequently.

You also do not have any control of which traffic channel you will be on, as that's pushed down to you depending on congestion, and signal strength, etc.

They work the exact same way, so I suspect they are dipping into the traffic channel less often (as well as getting fewer updates from the network) for T-Mobile than for VzW.

Android will show you where the battery usage went (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47610085)

Settings... Battery
Sorted by %usage including cell standby, wifi, voice calls, apps, etc.

There doesn't need to be a mystery.

They didn't control for network connection (1)

Tearfang (881364) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610203)

From the article “make sure that it’s receiving at least 3 bars of service” The words “at least” worry me here. That seems to imply some had 3 bars and some had 5. Since signal strength is often tied to network speed and how much power the radio needs to communicate with the towers this alone makes the results suspect. A carrier with 5 bars is going to have a huge advantage over one with 3. Maybe they misspoke and really they all had the same number of bars... even then I'd think they'd have to run a speed test as well since those bars are phone service bars not 3G/4G/LTE/whatever bars.

AT&T HTC Vivid (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610331)

This is not really related to T-Mobile, but I do know that the battery life on my wife's HTC Vivid **DOUBLED** when I installed CM11 on it.

It used to last 7-8 hours and now she can comfortably go all day and not have to carry a power pack around with her everywhere she goes.

Identical models? (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610611)

Different versions of the same model phone use different radio chips.

I just bought my wife an S4 Mini, with a choice of at least 5 different models that only really differ in the radio chip - I9190, I9192, I9195T, I9195L and I9197.
They're all S4 Mini's, one without LTE or NFC, one with dual SIM, the others are all LTE with different frequency bands.

Sprint is last in something new? (1)

gelfling (6534) | about a month and a half ago | (#47610855)

Jesus Christ they never run out of things to fuck up.

Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47610919)

Interesting observation... I've generally had the opposite experience, at least comparing AT&T against T-Mobile devices.

WiFi Calls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47611305)

I'm wondering if WiFi calling has anything to do with it. My T-Mobile Note 3 lasts all day (with more than a half battery to spare) while at work on the WifI network, it appears to shut off the LTE radio altogether. LTE/GSM signals in my building are crap, and if it's not on WiFi, the battery runs out quickly, usually before the end of the day.

wifi calling? (1)

starless (60879) | about a month and a half ago | (#47611331)

Did the study include the effects of calling over wifi?
I have t-mobile and connect to wifi networks at home and work for my phone connection and my charge lasts a lot longer than
when I'm away from wifi networks I can use.

As far as I know, I think t-mobile is the only carrier to implement calling over wifi.

(What, RTFA and check if that's mentioned? Of course not...)

Re:wifi calling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47612261)

Did the study include the effects of calling over wifi?
I have t-mobile and connect to wifi networks at home and work for my phone connection and my charge lasts a lot longer than
when I'm away from wifi networks I can use.

As far as I know, I think t-mobile is the only carrier to implement calling over wifi.

(What, RTFA and check if that's mentioned? Of course not...)

I read somewhere that Wifi only uses slightly more power than 2G.

Now, I recall that you can't select 2G to save power if you are stuck on a 4G android phone. Thus Wifi is the next best choice. Warning: IIRC the default on Froyo is to keep switching back to 3G every time your screen turns off. You can change that in the advanced settings.

3G is a hog, and on an old battery you can ocassionally see the battery drain from 50% to 15% on a single page load if there's enough javascript. I turn that on and off all the time --it's as bad as flash might have been.

They even beat their reasellers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47611639)

I switched from T-Mobile to P-Tel which uses T-mobile's network and lost about 2/3 of my battery life on my iPhone. Nothing else changed...

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