When you are trying to locate a place, turning on your phone’s location service comes as naturally as breathing. Or when you are perhaps trying to book a hotel in a new city and want to know its exact location, then viewing it on a map is the best option. But the big question is – does turning on your phone’s GPS based location services drain battery?
To answer this question, we must understand how GPS works.
A deeper look at apps using GPS
GPS is essentially a tiny chip located in the smartphone. It is constantly receiving signals from satellites and updating your location. So yes it is guilty of draining battery life. But it is not the sole culprit. There are a lot of factors that contribute to battery drain. Several Android and iOS applications are dependent on GPS for their functioning. Apps using GPS like Uber and Zomato or fitness based apps like Nike+which track the distance you have walked or run. Even travel and hotel booking apps that track and provide you locations, are equally guilty of draining battery life.
It must also be noted that when we utilize apps using GPS, our power consumption is high as well. For instance if we are trying to locate a place and have Google maps on, then it is likely that our phone screen is constantly on too as we try to keep track of the location guide. This is a drain on the battery as well.
Understand the signals
Another factor that is responsible for draining battery life is the quality of satellite signal. If we are constantly on the move, for instance, if we are driving and trying to find a location, then our GPS tries to obtain signals from multiple satellites. This frantic activities by location services, drain battery life quickly. It has generally been observed that battery drains faster in areas with poor satellite signals. Say, for instance if you are driving through a mountainous region and signal is erratic, you will notice that your phone’s battery is consumed much faster than if you are driving down your regular city routes.
Or if you are using a service specific Android or iOS applications like Zomato – and are eager to know when the food will arrive, then you are presumably tracking the movement of the delivery person on the map. When you do this, you are keeping the phone’s screen on, while also using GPS based location tracking. When you use multiple features that consume power, your phone’s battery is likely to drain faster.
GPS on. Battery gone?
Not really. But fact remains that once you have turned on GPS in your phone, it does not ever go into sleep mode. Even when your phone is not in use, your GPS is active and trying to connect with satellites. However this is low key action and does not consume too much power. It is only when you are actively seeking a location that the GPS gorges power. It starts to connect with satellites and constantly refreshes itself to keep updating your location. And that’s when those lines in your battery may start to plummet.
Help your phone’s battery live longer
Since we have established that location services drain battery, do we then have to change our phone’s battery every so often? Luckily that is not always the case. When you download an app, it is always a good idea to check how much power it will consume. Also be wary if it is an app that needs to constantly update location. In addition, both Android and Apple operating systems offer several power and battery saving options, like turning off notification of some apps.
Find the guilty apps
Did you know that there are a multitude of apps in your smartphone that may be using GPS to update location in order to function accurately? They are constantly doing so, even when you are not actively using them. Hence it is always a good idea to visit your phone settings and find the list of apps that have accessed your location. This list will help you discover the apps guilty of gaining access to your GPS frequently. These location seeking apps are possibly causing battery drain and it might be a good idea to prevent them from auto updating – unless they are absolutely critical for your use. So ideally disable location services on power hungry apps and leave your GPS on.
The final verdict
All things considered, it might be a tad unfair to say location services drain battery. They do. But as we have seen, several factors other factors also contribute to battery drain. Suffice to say, the battery life of our smartphone depends on how smartly we use the phone.