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By Chris De Herrera 
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 Balancing Cellular Performance and Battery Life
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 2009
Revised 11/19/2009

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One of the common issues that all Windows Mobile OEMS and users deal with is balancing the battery life of their device with higher network performance. This is because all 3G networks such as EvDO and HSDPA require additional battery power to transmit and receive data at the higher data rates. The impact on battery life is greater than you may think. Switching from 3G to 2G roughly doubles the battery life of Windows Mobile devices.

Current Solutions

Very few OEMs offer users the ability to easily switch between 3G and 2G. HTC offers this ability on their newer phones in the Phone Settings where the user can select the radio bands. Also, there are registry settings that can disable 3G however they require a soft reset to implement. (See the Network Registry Settings ) Others such as Samsung require the user to enter cryptic codes after rebooting their phone to allow the user to disable 3G. (See the Smartphone Issues FAQ )

Future OEM or Operating System Enhancements

I believe that there is a much better way to manage the network connectivity. It would be ideal to have OEMs or the operating system setup their devices to automatically switch between 2G and 3G when users are using specific applications that would benefit from the improved performance. An example of this scenario would be to default to 2G when powered on and even using Exchange ActiveSync. However once the user opens Inbox, switch to 3G so they can download e-mail attachments faster. Then when Inbox is closed, revert back to 2G. Also, it would be ideal to be in 2G until the user opens Internet Explorer and the network connection should switch to 3G while IE is open. Then once the user closes Internet Explorer or turns their device off the device should automatically switch to 2G. Also there could be an option for advanced users to leave their phone in 3G mode to benefit from manually controlling the performance.  The only downside I see is that it may take a few seconds to switch between the 2G and 3G networks however the improved battery life is worth it.


With the automated approach users would benefit from performance when they need it and would see improved battery life without reducing the capabilities of their Windows Mobile Device. However in the meantime users will have to work around these issues manually.

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