Battery life on T-Mo smartphones lasts longer than competitors according to recent test


We often see tests and comparisons on various smartphones to see which device offers the best battery life. For some, it’s a vital metric that helps make informed choices on which phone to buy. But you rarely see tests comparing the same phone on different carriers to see if that makes a difference. And apparently, it does.

LaptopMag published results of a test yesterday afternoon, and it would seem that if you buy a top smartphone on T-Mobile, you’ll get up to 3 hours more use time than you might from a competitor’s device.


And this isn’t an isolated incident. Laptop Mag notes that during its time testing mobile phones, the pattern has a “curious consistency”. This isn’t a one off.

Combining the past 36 months of Laptop Mag smartphone reviews, T-Mobile averaged 7:26, nearly an hour longer than its nearest competitor, Sprint (6:35). Verizon and AT&T bring up the rear over 36 months, with times of 6:31 and 6:26 respectively. However, many Sprint phones we reviewed over the past 3 years were not LTE-capable, making that carriers numbers look a little better than they should.

To perform the test, Laptop Mag uses its own bespoke app which surfs 50 popular web sites, pausing on each page for 60 seconds and repeating the pattern until the battery caves in. During the test, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC are switched off and the device is just using the carrier’s network. The report notes they also make sure the device has at least 3 bars of service.

In the New York/New Jersey area, T-Mo’s Galaxy S5 lasted 10 hours and 57 minutes. Its closest competitor was the AT&T model which lasted 9 hours 28 mins. Sprint’s lasted an hour less than AT&T’s, while Verizon’s performed the worse with just 7 hours 30 minutes use before it ran out of juice.

To see if results changed in different markets, they sent the S5 out to Chicago, where battery life improved. In the Windy City, T-Mo’s lasted an impressive 11 hours 16 mins. Again, AT&T was in second place on 10 hours 36 mins. VZW’s improved to 9 hours 8 mins while Sprint’s model – bucking the trend – dropped in performance.

Laptop Mag speculates that the difference in performance is perhaps down to T-Mo having a more efficient and less-crowded network. Another possibility is that T-Mobile’s phones have less bloatware than its competition.

Via: Laptop Mag

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  • MordyT

    Fast dormancy may help explain this…

  • Fabian Cortez

    This is an interesting article.

  • S. Ali

    I believe TMO has one of the more “tower dense” networks (lots of cheap roof antennas), so these test may have been done in close proximity to their towers. ATT/Verizon phones would have connected to distant 700mhz sites. Sprints network probably had their device constantly switching bands from their incomplete mess of towers.

    • blokeinusa

      When ATT/Verizon publishes there tests, you bet they will be closer to there towers than a competitors.

    • I think that you may have a point. There may be fewer ATT towers at 800MHz and VZW towers at 700MHz to cover the same area than S towers at 1900MHz and TMUS towers at 1700/2100MHz. If this is the case, then I’d expect the battery life to be increasingly better in this order: VZW, ATT, S, TMUS. The report almost confirms this, except in a couple of cases when ATT and S switch places. This hints that the distance to the tower may be a dominating factor.

  • furyy

    To answer the question of if it has to to with bloatware, why wouldn’t they do a wi-fi only test?

    • Cam Bunton

      I don’t see how that would answer the bloatware question.

      • roboito

        It would take network radios out of the loop and only use Wi-Fi. This would allow them to run the phone test over the same exact network Wi-Fi settings thus allowing you to see if the software uses up Moore juice on certain phones, all else being as equal as possible.

        • donnybee

          But then it wouldn’t be an accurate test. This is showing how each carrier differs in battery life. If you took the carrier part out of the equation, what would the study be about? Bloatware? That’s not what they wanted to test.. They wanted to see which carrier would suck up more juice, all things considered. And that’s how they got these results.

        • steveb944

          He’s trying to come to a more intricate study in which you’re able to see more variables taken into account by having a control variable, WiFi battery life. You deduce that bloat is not an issue and results will come out ‘better’ for T-Mobile.

        • donnybee

          That would be pretty good to see. They should’ve done a supplemental study like that that could accompany these results. That way they can really dial in that it was the network that was the main difference. Good point!

        • superg05

          except phone on wifi are on super sync

  • MagicMiguel

    I also think it has something to do with T-Mo not keeping an HSPA connection to your phone all the time. My Nexus 5 on AT&T always had an H next to the signal bars, but when I switched to T-Mo a few months ago, it only shows the H when I’m using data and switches to 3G when data is idle. I don’t have LTE in my area, so I’m not sure if they do the same technique with LTE.

    • Cole Toler

      Is that how it works? I have a Nexus 4 and have always noticed it switching from H to 3g to save battery, had no idea that this was controlled by the carrier.

      • IloveTmob

        The nexus 4 does not have LTE, that’s why you see the bands switching from H to 3g.

        • Actually, if you knew anything about the Nexus 4 you would know its a very simple radio flash that can allow users to access the LTE radio in it, so Yes, it does…

        • Willie D

          Yeah mine uses LTE with the .27 radio hack.

        • blokeinusa

          Mine uses LTE as well. Still need to figure out which is best for my area. They’re gonna have to pry my N4 out of my hands to upgrade now.

        • Ultimate Warrior

          Nexus 4 does have LTE, just needs to be activated by flashing custom radio

    • areallytallguy

      LTE doesn’t idle on 3g on T-Mobile like Hspa does. It just stays on LTE.

    • qpinto

      you really dont need anything more than 3g to receive emails, push notifications or anything else. tmobiles 3g hspa+ is more than adequate for those uses. it will switch to lte once you actually use the device and want the speed. its a great way to save battery life and it works out on their network to help with congestion and idle devices.

      • Willie D

        No, all my devices that are LTE capable STAY on LTE they dont flip back and forth

      • oneiopen


    • donnybee

      It shouldn’t matter. These tests were done with an app that constantly surfs the top 50 popular websites. So, if you’re correct that it drops to a battery saving signal when idle, it wouldn’t matter here. All the phones were put through a ‘stress test’ of sorts until the battery fully crashed.

  • Brook Marin

    Part of it is the cellular technology used in each phone. To be backward compatible with each carrier, I would expect to see Verizon and sprint perform worse. Sprint would essentially need to have two radios on to connect to their cellular and wimax networks. Similarly, Verizon’s old CDMA technology is based on something totally different from modern day LTE. T-Mobile and AT&T both use the same technology so their numbers should be the closest.

    • Trevnerdio

      I don’t believe these new phones support WiMax any longer.

      • Jay J. Blanco

        They have to support. Spark and regular 850mhz lte.

        • Trevnerdio

          That’s weird…on their S4 page and stuff, it doesn’t list it.

        • Bill Clinton

          2 of above phones support spark, 2 phones don’t

    • ATT and TMUS phones also use two radios, one for LTE and the other for GSM, at least when and where VoLTE is not supported.

  • Gdl

    Probably due to Att and verizon towers being farther so more battery since the towers are farther, also tmobiles network falls to hspa a lot which would use less power so I’d like to see how that would factor into the equation. Being that lte uses more power I’d expect ATT and verizon to be less since the majority of the tie you’re on lte with either network.

    • Darrien Glasser

      Did you read the article? They made sure all of the devices had the same signal strength, all had LTE, etc.

      • Willie D

        Not to mention this was done over 3 years of studies.

        • Trevnerdio

          But T-Mobile didn’t have LTE back then, and I don’t think Sprint did either…hmm

        • donnybee

          “Back then”

          When are you referring? And how does it correlate to these devices?

        • Trevnerdio

          Willie D said 3 years ago. But I guess that wouldn’t pertain to these devices, in that case…so good point, I don’t really know where the 3 years statement comes into play!

        • donnybee

          I found that interesting too haha I caught that in the article and then starting wondering how they got GS4 or M7 results 3 years ago lol

          So everything should be pretty accurate. T-Mobile has had LTE since all these phones have been out. And it sounds like they were only tested in top markets, so all the carriers should be even. Sprint actually would be showing better results in battery life because I don’t think they had LTE in these markets the whole time. They’ve been pretty slow to the LTE game…

        • loopyduck

          The three years applies here:

          “Combining the past 36 months of Laptop Mag smartphone reviews, T-Mobile averaged 7:26, nearly an hour longer than its nearest competitor, Sprint (6:35). Verizon and AT&T bring up the rear over 36 months, with times of 6:31 and 6:26 respectively.”

          All phones, not just these four recent phones.

        • loopyduck

          The three years applies here:

          “Combining the past 36 months of Laptop Mag smartphone reviews, T-Mobile averaged 7:26, nearly an hour longer than its nearest competitor, Sprint (6:35). Verizon and AT&T bring up the rear over 36 months, with times of 6:31 and 6:26 respectively.”

          All phones, not just these four recent phones.

        • Guest

          This graph doesn’t go back that far.. Just think about it for a second.

          Show me GS4 battery usage from 3 years ago.. you won’t be able to. What about the original HTC One usage from 3 years ago? Think about it people.. you can’t say this is skewed because it’s from “3 years of studies” when these phones haven’t all be out for 3 years. These are solid results.

      • Hulk Hogan

        umm that was never stated in article….
        qoute please because all i read was some of sprints devices weren’t LTE capable over the three years….

  • Daniel Holmstock

    lol in the burbs cant use the phone on edge so much so it stays in the pocket! lol


    Wished my Nexus 5 also had that great battery life with T-Mobile. I usually average about 8-hours before I get my 15% warning. This is casual usage with bluetooth on during the 30-minute commute to work and WiFi turned on during the day. I believe it was better when I first got it November 2013, but with the 4.4.4 update it appears to be getting worse.

    But kudos to T-Mobile in getting a lot more juice out of their stock flagship phones.

    • monkeybutts

      Android L is supposed to help, people say the developer preview varies from separate devices. Some people say better others say worse.

      But yeah even my Nexus 7 has been worse after 4.4.2

      • FILA

        I dont know why people complain about the N5 battery life. I get excellent life. I can go the whole day on a charge, sometimes around 8, Im only at 50%. Im not a heavy user on facebook or shit like that. But unlike my old GNex, just to check the time and the OLED lighting up wasted 5% of juice it seemed. lol

    • Fabian Cortez

      Bluetooth was turned off…

    • steveb944

      You’re doing it wrong.

      I get a full day of battery with screen on time 2-3+ hrs and I don’t get great signal in the office.

      • PiCASSiMO

        Doing what wrong? I’m open to suggestions.

        • steveb944

          You may be doing a few things already, but here goes.

          Set screen brightness to automatic.
          Turn off sync when you don’t need it.
          Download BatteryGuru immediately (I don’t use its Wi-Fi control tho).

          In bad signal areas where you’re not using your device just turn off data instead of jumping onto Wi-Fi, I’m not sure if Wi-Fi drains more than regular weak data or if you want to be disconnected.

          I use Llama as my location aware app so it makes all the changes I need to my phone without me worrying.

          The Nexus at times has issues with Wi-Fi staying on or not turning on, make sure it’s off through settings as widgets and quick settings don’t always show the truth.

        • PiCASSiMO

          Thank you, sir.

  • Matt

    This still isn’t very scientific. It doesn’t take into account other variables: tolerance variances in the manufacturing, weather and atmospheric conditions, etc.

    • Almeuit

      It wasn’t meant to be. As they said they just averaged all battery life as per their tests and noticed the results.

    • donnybee

      But each device was tested in the same environment each time. So the average will still be accurate. Obviously each person is going to have different uses on their phones and may/may not reach these figures, but the fact is that the T-Mo GS4, for example, was tested the same way Sprint’s GS4, and the other carrier’s GS4. So the fact that some have lower and some have higher from the same usage and atmospheric conditions is what they’re showing. Clearly if you want better average battery life, as shown in controlled tests, you’d go with T-Mobile.

  • notyourbusiness

    Verizon’s Galaxy S4 only lasts four hours??? That’s a joke…

  • Paul

    In 3 hours with light use on my LG G3 i have 99% battery life, cant complain there

  • I suppose that in large cities one is near a tower more often than in smaller cities. In my case, TMUS has a spotty coverage, in particular at home and at work. When the phone sees a weak signal from the tower, it cranks its transmission power up to reach the tower, draining the battery more quickly. I suspect that ATT and VZW would sport longer battery lives where I live because they have stronger coverage in my city.

    • loopyduck

      The tests were done at the staff’s office in NYC.

  • Mike

    The reason T-Mobile came out on top is because half the time your cellphone is either on 3G, Edge, or G

    • Fabian Cortez

      Umm, LTE is actually more efficient.

      • Mike

        Duh what I’m saying is LTE drains you phone battery quicker than 3G, Edge, and G which gave T-Mobile an advantage in this category

        • Fabian Cortez

          Does no one read anymore?

          All these test were done using LTE…

        • loopyduck

          False. It was only stated that all of the phones are LTE-capable. Also: “Combining the past 36 months of Laptop Mag smartphone reviews, T-Mobile averaged 7:26, nearly an hour longer than its nearest competitor, Sprint (6:35). Verizon and AT&T bring up the rear over 36 months, with times of 6:31 and 6:26 respectively.” T-Mobile didn’t (officially) have LTE service for the first 18 months in that period.

    • Dustin Roe

      NO, the reason it is better is the method of the test. They load one (x) MB website to the phone once every 60 seconds. The faster the data transfer the shorter the on cycle of the radio and therefore the better the battery life. ATT was right, faster is better LOL

    • @Mike true if you use your phone in a rural area. My experience – good to excellent LTE signal where ever I go!

  • guidomus_maximus

    Simple answer: Tower density is better on TMO. Less users per tower. Others are farther apart, need high levels which suck battery

  • steveb944

    “The report notes they also make sure the device has at least 3 bars of service.”

    No wonder T-Mobile won, the times that occurs consistently is a somewhat rare occasion. When it is up there, it’s phenomenal.

  • redman12

    I’d say less bloatware.

  • Juan Pablo Darquea

    The true is that all Android phones suck in battery performance test or no test in my tmobile HTC one m7 with fully charged battery 2 hours of clash of clans and my battery is gone to 20% my friend on his tmobile iPhone 5 2 hours of clash of clans and his phone still with more then 50% battery people don’t make a test make a solution to this problem

    • bob90210

      i totally understand i have andriod also i leave off the punction too since it is the only way to save on batteries

    • Mirad77


    • LesterDeLaCruz

      I’ve had many different devices and battery life has always been significantly better on my android devices than my ios devices. My current phone the note 3 is charged every other day and I use it heavily everyone who I know that uses the iphone 5s looks for a charger by 4 pm everyday. So I’m guessing you’re making this up or have something running on your phone that you shouldnt. Check your battery stats and see why its draining so quickly.

    • Harvey

      M7 just had mediocre battery life. The M8 is a colossal improvement thanks to the higher capacity battery and more efficient SoC.

      In fact, all of the Snapdragon 801 flagships have excellent battery life. I would expect this trend to continue going forward.

  • JMF_mobile

    Maybe GSM technology is more efficient than CDMA? Both T-Mobile and AT&T use it and they had better battery life than Verizon and Sprint who both use CDMA.

    • Evan Lam

      Wait, so AT&T uses both GSM and CDMA? Jk, i’m assuming the second time you mention AT&T you mean Sprint is using CDMA?

      • JMF_mobile

        Lol, yes thanks for pointing that out. Fixed it.

        • Evan Lam

          Yup, no problem. I’m sure most of us understood what you meant to say, but there are some people that are just getting into technology and they would have been very confused by that.

    • loopyduck

      It’s a decent theory, but that doesn’t explain why phones on T-Mobile’s network lasts at least 1.5 hours longer when compared to AT&T’s network.

      • TylerCameron

        I think it’s a safe bet that in the cities where T-Mobile has deployed at least HSPA+, the cellsite density is higher. This means you have a better average signal, which equates to better battery life.

  • Michael

    I have an Iphone 5 on Tmobile and it makes it 8-12 hours depending on usage. I also carry an Iphone 4 on Verizon and it last 2+ days every time. There isn’t even a competition.

  • jaxgrim

    A lot of it has to with how often a carrier requires your phone to do location updates and how large the broadcast areas are.

  • MadJoe

    My only question would be: how does a Samsung device have “less bloatware” based on carrier? They install so much themselves, I would think the carriers barely have any room left for theirs (and I should know, I own a Note 3 with a Galaxy S, S4, and S5 in my household as well as a Note 10.1).

  • A corollary to this – do TMO phones have less “lag” than competitors – AT&T, Verizon, etc?
    For the G3 I believe this is true. The T-Mobile version has less lag than AT&T. But I don’t have any solid evidence, just from what I’ve seen and read.

  • josephsinger

    There are lots of factors that go into how well a carrier or phone does. Among them are what the distance is from the nearest base station. A phone that is looking for a signal more uses more power.

  • Jay

    Clearly, these tests were not done on an Galaxy S4 with Android 4.4.2 installed.

    • Dats

      Unfortunately I know what u mean

  • I have to say that the test is true. The problem is: Google always push massive bloatware onto their devices, and that is the reason why the battery life of Androids suck compared to Windows Phones.

    • Prod1702

      Google doesn’t push anything. It is the manufacturer that is putting what they want on the phone. Look at the Nexus, That has little to no apps on it other then the stock Google apps. If all manufacturers did this then there would be no difference from a Samsung to LG to HTC phone. They have to do something to make their phones different. You can always disable most of the apps under app management.

      • Wrong. Google does push a lot of bloatware on the phones that uses their OS (keep in mind, while internal space does differ from phone to phone, that space is also very finite). When Facebook required people to download messenger on their apps, some mobile phone users found out that they had to delete an app they loved in order to get messenger – and some of these people had as much as 1 GB total internal space!

        • Prod1702

          The GAPPS take up maybe a few hundred MB’s where HTC and say Samsung’s apps take over 1 or 2gb of space. Also most people do not see the Google Apps as bloatware. When you look at say CM roms which are around what like 200 or 300mb. Since CM roms are very close to stock Android just with alot of addons. Then you install the GAPPS which are another maybe 200 or 300mb. That makes the system side most of the time no more then 600 to 700mb if that. Most HTC and Samsung Rom’s with there bloat removed are still over 1.5gb with bloat are sometimes over 2gb. There is alot less with Nexus phones.