Does Leaving Your Location Turned on Drain Your Battery? A Definitive Answer

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.

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.

gps-battery-drain-maps-iphone

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.

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!

5 comments

  1. ‘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.’

    I do not think so. Do you have a reference, maybe?

  2. “This is because emergency services must always have readily available location data should you call them. ”
    Which sounds very comforting. However, if emergency services can track you, so can ANYBODY else. What a horrible thought!

  3. In fact, every time your cell phone pings a cell tower, the location is recorded. Yes, if your phone is turned on your location is being tracked by the NSA the FBI and anybody else who has a court order. Your cell provider knows where you are at all times. So what do you care about your friends knowing where you are?

    • Precisely, I completely agree with you. Investigators always take help of the mobile operators to track down the pin-point location of any person using a mobile phone. Call it a major advantage or disadvantage.

      NSA is one such agency which is highly active in this field and there are several petitions of privacy violation being tried in the courts. Remember, they are the one who had played a major role in tracking down one of the most wanted & dreaded ex-terrorist.

      Irrelevant to this post, but I thought of sharing one another fact. When we switch off the phone, our phone actually sends a signal or command to the tower telling them that the phone is being switched off. Now whenever someone tries to call us, they will get a message that the phone they are trying to call is switched off.

      But if you pull off the battery, the tower will assume that we have gone out of the coverage area. So next time someone tries to call us, they will get a message that phone they are trying to call is out of the coverage area.

      So next time you want to ditch your boss, don’t switch off, just pull off the battery and re-insert it.

      Unfortunately, this is not applicable to phones with the non-removable battery. The only way is to put your phone in some kind of signal proof pouch (for e.g. aluminium foil) or take it deep inside some building or maybe the basement where there is no signal.

  4. Just turn off”location services”
    So many apps are accessing this to data harvest it become a huge battery and data user

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