Since the dawn of the smartphone, battery drain while using the GPS has been an issue and a debate. Obviously, with it being a piece of hardware that computes data, it requires energy – but how much energy does it truly require? Is it negligible? That will be covered here as well as a few other topics.
In Short, Yes, Yes It Does – Just Not in the Way You’d Think
The GPS device inside your phone is always on, regardless of whether you have disabled apps from being able to access the hardware. This is because emergency services must always have readily available location data should you call them. That being said, your apps accessing the GPS data is not causing the GPS module to be working any harder, as it is not gaining any new data. If it were, it would therefore be using more energy. Battery drain is more likely due to apps running in the background and downloading data from the background to keep information up to date for if you were to launch it.
Now, however, when you search in an app for, say, a restaurant location, the GPS module will be accessed to pull data and then cross reference that data with Internet sources. This surely uses more power than the phone’s automatic location tracking which it does only every so often.
Maps is another application that is extremely detrimental to battery life. This is why I always have my device charging while using Maps, Waze, or any application of the sort that is constantly keeping your location up to date. This location data is tracked closely, down to a proximity of just a few feet, and checked often, just in case you miss a turn.
More, yet similar, applications that behave in the way of Maps or Waze are DJI Go and Pokemon GO. An app like DJI Go is using your phone’s GPS module to monitor your location and therefore keep that in tap with the drone’s location. An app like Pokemon GO takes into account your location in a very similar, if not exact, way that a map app does.
Again, this is a high rate of tracking and constant refreshing. It is much more than the phone would be tracking otherwise, with no location-services-heavy app open.
What Can Prevent Location-Based Battery Drain?
Simply staying off of non-critical location tracking apps will certainly show an increase in your phone’s overall battery life throughout the day. A surprisingly simple approach to conserving power (that is far too often overlooked) is to keep your device plugged in to the car while getting turn-by-turn directions. Another tip is to stop using poorly-designed apps that must use GPS. In using them, more power may be required than truly necessary, as it is refreshing far too often than it needs to to provide accurate data.
What is the quickest and easiest way to avoid GPS battery drain that you have come across? Which tips work, and which flat-out do not? Leave a comment below, and let your thoughts be heard!
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