[T-Mobile USA] Bad battery life & connectivity compared to AT&T

Discussion in 'iPhone 5S' started by besweeet, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    I've been discussing this with people on other forums for a long time, but never thought to post it here, for whatever reason.

    Anywho, back in June, I switched from AT&T to T-Mobile, and have been very satisfied with the switch. Interestingly, what I'm the least satisfied with isn't with T-Mobile, but with the iPhone.

    I've used 4 different iPhone 5s and 3 different iPhone 5ses, all of which have proper AWS/T-Mobile support, and all have seemingly terrible battery life when using cellular data. Wi-Fi battery life is stunning, but since I have unlimited data, I'd rather use that, since it's typically faster than my Wi-Fi and completely dedicated.

    I can usually lose 1% of battery life every 2-3 minutes of very basic cellular data usage. This includes things like checking email, browsing through my Twitter timeline with Tweetbot, responding to some iMessages, and loading some web pages. When I still had an active AT&T SIM, my cellular data battery life numbers would heavily increase the moment I popped that SIM in. At the rate of 2-3 minutes for each percent, my overall usage numbers would come nowhere close to what Apple and T-Mobile are stating, but I remember them being fairly close when I was on AT&T.

    I've been experiencing these numbers all across Texas and in Las Vegas during CES. My battery will decrease at the same rate regardless of signal (1 bar of LTE or 5). I don't think that it's very location or signal dependent, at least for me. I've read of some other people having similar issues in New York and some other areas, so I'm not sure.

    The way I use my phone, I can typically just barely get through the entire day before my phone turns itself off from having no battery remaining, but it just tanks when I actually do start using it for data. Some days where I use my phone more than others, I'll be lucky to get half way through the day before needing to charge it. Luckily I have plenty of external juice.

    So, the only thing that changed here is the network.

    The phone also seems to have some connectivity problems here and there. For example, when at home where I get 3 solid bars of LTE (and almost 40Mbps down and 10Mbps during speed tests), I'll put the phone in my pocket, I'll pull it [the phone] out, and there it is on 4 or 5 bars of EDGE. It'll then often switch to HSPA+ ("4G"/3G) before going back to LTE. I had a Nexus 5 for a few weeks and never experienced these issues. There are other times where the phone will want to opt for EDGE when traveling instead of just trying to hold onto LTE longer. It seems like it has handoff issues or something. Again, the Nexus 5 and other T-Mobile devices I've used, including the Galaxy S4, never did these things.

    FWIW, I get similar numbers if I'm on HSPA+/3G/"4G" as well.

    Overall, it just seems as though the iPhone isn't very well optimized for this particular network. A few carrier and iOS updates later, things still aren't looking very good. I don't know if the phone just doesn't like a carrier with higher frequencies (although all 4 in the US do have and use them, some in more places than others), or if T-Mobile or Apple aren't doing a good job optimizing their settings, or if the cellular modem/baseband/whatever isn't as good/developed/mature as in other devices.

    Sure, I could just get a different phone, but this is more of an annoyance than anything, so it doesn't seem practical to switch to an entirely different platform because of battery life complaints. Here's to hoping that the next iPhone will be better .

    Has anybody else noticed anything similar?
     
  2. Ledsteplin

    Ledsteplin Genius
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    My data speeds on LTE are the same as yours. It does use data, but I don't notice unusually high usage. I'm on wifi most of the time. I get 30Mbps down and 5Mbps up on wifi. I use the iPhone 5 on Verizon.
     
  3. Europa

    Europa Moderator
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    Have you tried resetting your network settings or restoring to factory settings?
     
  4. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    All that and more. As mentioned, it happens with new devices fresh out of the box as well. Sure, the battery might not be conditioned, but the numbers are very similar.
     
    #4 besweeet, Mar 2, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2014
  5. Europa

    Europa Moderator
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    And you're comparing the battery life to an AT&T iPhone using LTE, not 4G HSPA+, right?
     
  6. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    Correct.
     
  7. Europa

    Europa Moderator
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    A 1% drop after three minutes of LTE usage doesn't sound that bad. I typically get around 6 hours of usage on WiFi. I don't use LTE enough to provide a comparison, but it would be less. What's your battery life difference between the two (AT&T LTE and T-Mobile LTE)?
     
  8. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    It's been ages since I last compared to two, but all I know is that my AT&T numbers were noticeably higher.
     
  9. Europa

    Europa Moderator
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    Just post the T-Mobile usage then.
     
  10. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    Haven't been keeping track of raw numbers recently, just how quickly the battery percentage drops.

    Here's one back in October:
    [​IMG]

    And in November:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    12% drop in 26 minutes. Was basic web usage.

    From December:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    3% drop in 5 minutes...

    From a week or two ago:
    [​IMG]

    It doesn't seem right no matter how you look at it.

    Just wish I could get an AT&T iPhone with service for testing. Might have an idea on how to get one for a short while.
     
    #10 besweeet, Mar 2, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2014
  11. Europa

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    They do seem lower than the average on most of the AT&T and Verizon usage screenshots I've seen. I guess it's possible that it's the network. Exchanging the hardware is the final troubleshooting step, but you've tested it on several iPhones and they all seem to be affected so I'm not sure what you can do aside from side-by-side testing with an AT&T 5s.
     
  12. rambo47

    rambo47 Contributor
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    Searching for a network that drops out will KILL battery life. When I had Sprint and traveled into way north New Jersey where there was little or no network coverage my 4s would get hot and battery life would drop by 50% in an hour and a half. I would suggest the battery drain with T-Mobile is probably due to the network dropping out, causing the phone to search and search in an attempt to re-connect.
     
  13. Ledsteplin

    Ledsteplin Genius
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    That happens in certain areas of hospitals. They block the service, and the phone will search non stop for a signal. They recommend powering off in those areas.
     
  14. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    The only time I've ever lost signal completely was when I went deep into a covered hallway in a multi-story outdoor mall and into a bathroom. The phone probably could've attached onto EDGE, but it's whatever. Other than that, the phone never shows "searching" at the top; it always has a generally decent signal.
     
  15. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    I was monitoring some numbers the other day:
    [admin note: image link broken due to technical issue on our end, url removed]

    Set on the left is on 7.0.4 (jailbroken). Ones on the right are on 7.0.6 (stock).

    Refreshing: refreshing MSN.com's desktop version via Chrome for iOS exactly every 20 seconds.
    Page idle: leading the page alone without refreshing.
    Screen idle: leaving the phone at the home screen without doing anything (leaving the backlight on, of course).
    Standby: leaving the phone off (but still coming on occasionally for notifications).

    Didn't bother doing the rest of the tests for 7.0.6 since the results will most likely be the same.

    Still hoping to get an AT&T SIM soon to do this and other tests.
     
    #15 besweeet, Mar 8, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2014
  16. Nrevezzo

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    I've noticed this also. I'm with AT&T. When the signal is weak my battery life goes in the dumper.
     
  17. Europa

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    The OP said the signal strength is not poor.
     
  18. rambo47

    rambo47 Contributor
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    The signal might be strong when the OP is looking at it, standing still, but just walking down the street for a block or two can put you in a dead zone. Even moving around an office can produce low connectivity situations when there are walls, furniture, and other structure involved. In my experience with T-Mobile I have found their network is one of the weakest of all the majors. In northern NJ they have a severe lack of towers so signal strength changes radically every 25 feet sometimes. Of course I could be way off base and the problem could be completely unrelated. ;)
     
  19. rambo47

    rambo47 Contributor
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    For another way to go, take a gander at this discussion: http://forums.everythingicafe.com/threads/finished-with-apple.105192/
    The gist is that restoring the iPhone via iTunes from a physical download of the firmware can sort out a lot of issues with firmware. The discussion I linked to is about poor battery life but discussions on Apple's site suggest a lot of other problems can be sorted by this procedure too.
     
    #19 rambo47, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2014

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