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VoIP Battery and Data Usage

Updated on November 2, 2011

VoIP and Battery Life

When deciding on the specifications of any mobile phone, one of the things you always look at is the battery life. Eight hours of continuous talk time is what is standard in the industry these days and a lot of people pay a lot of attention to those metrics. It's very frustrating to purchase a high end phone which is capable of doing so much only to discover that the battery life sucks. Of course, good phones allow their owners to swap out a new one - the exception being Apple which likes to keep a tight grip on its hardware.

But when we switch to a VoIP system, the equation changes. Most of the time, the user will be in a wifi environment and so there's no need for the wireless radio to be on. We still don't have good applications which can automatically switch between wireless radio and wifi depending on what connections are available, but that will come eventually. As also the ability to switch mid call.

But this is a new metric we need to look at. How much battery does a VoIP enabled phone use given that it will be working on a completely different network?

VoIP Battery Usage
VoIP Battery Usage

Wifi and Battery Issues

If you're looking for a simple answer, then here it is: Wifi uses up less battery than your regular phone receiver. There's a complication though. It turns out that one of the problems lies in the fact that the wifi network goes to "sleep" after a while. This means that it's no longer working in the background and your mobile phone is unable to receive calls or receives them in a delayed manner. There are applications for android phones which keep wifi alive all the time. It's not as simple for the iPhone because the iPhone doesn't have true multitasking capabilities and this gets in the way of keeping wifi alive.

Implementing the wifi "keep alive" features brings down the life of the battery to a level comparable with the regular wireless radio functionality. A few more tests are needed to determine whether there's a more efficient way to keep wifi on all the time and still preserve battery life.

I suspect that as VoIP catches on, manufacturers will start paying more attention to the specifics of wifi usage and how it can be kept on and conserve battery while listening for a call. If you're looking for a VoIP solution for your business, you can quickly switch to hosted PBX systems in less than 15 minutes. Download a mobile SIP client and configure it by entering your SIP proxy server and you should be ready to go!


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