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5G uses less power than 4G at peak bitrates, but more for basic tasks



If you have a 5G device because you are concerned about cellular power drain, do not worry: 5G devices are actually more efficient than 4G LTE models, according to a new study

SRG's test in Minneapolis, Minn. used Verizon's 5G and 4G networks with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, specifically the US Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and X50 modem components used in other early 5G devices. Accelerator and Spirent SRG ran battery current tests at 5Mbps, 30Mbps, and "maximum possible" bitrates, switching between two 5G radio conditions and multiple 4G conditions, including two- and three-carrier aggregation.

The results were mixed but generally positive for 5G devices. At maximum possible bitrates, which on Verizon's millimeter wave 5G network may be within the 1

Gbps range, 5G could be "meaningfully more energy efficient than LTE." That compares to much faster than LTE generally found in the US But the tables turned on when the network was slowed down to lower bitrates, where 4G was more energy efficient than 5G, presumably since 5G uses more power when it's on, and needs to stay on the same amount of data.

In other words, early 5G chips are to be used in large volumes of data (say, one large file) files) out at 4G-like speeds. Since early 5G devices can connect to 4G and 5G networks optimally, they should enable them to make better choices about where to transmit their data.

Practically, SRG says that 5G's power advantages and disadvantages do not matter much, since other elements of phone usage – especially the backlight – have much bigger impact on battery life than the cellular chip. To the extent that 5G enables a user to cut down on screen during downloads or waiting for results, that could carry over to reducing backlight use as well. 5G device users should expect to get enough battery life from a 4,400mAh unless they are aggressively attempting to deplete it under extreme conditions.


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