Poll: 3G and better battery life or 4G and constant charging?


A notable issue with today’s powerful smartphones is battery life. Android (and other) devices have not exactly provided users with the best battery performance. Especially once those 4G devices started being released. But, are users willing to stick to 4G until battery technology improves, or would they simply stick with 3G devices until then.

Granted, we no longer have much of an option – unless we want to personally turn off those 4G radios. The fact is that once I turn off 4G and rely on 3G networks, my battery life almost doubles. Am I satisfied? Definitely not. But I have grown accustomed to the idea of using my Powerbag, extended batteries, external chargers and constantly charging. All of this in order to keep the blazing LTE speeds that haunt my battery life. I would no longer go back to 3G.

According to a recent J.D Power study, 4G users are much less satisfied with their devices, in terms of battery life. While still substantial, the numbers are not outrageous, though. In a scale of 10, 4G-enabled smartphones were ranked at 6.1 in satisfaction, while 3G devices were higher at 6.7.

Said numbers were determined by users’ claims. And the general consumer may not exactly have an idea of 4G and its consequences. Hell, many iPhone users believed that the iPhone 4 was a 4G device. But that is another story. Battery life highly depends on the manufacturer and the type of 4G. The latter currently holding its position among one of the most discussed topics in the industry – What is real 4G?

Regardless, technologies like LTE and WiMAX are known to be battery hogs. While others (like HSPA+) are more of an enhanced 3G and provide a more energy-efficient experience. It is safe to assume that a good percentage of the surveyed population may not know the difference. And isn’t exactly unsatisfied with 4G, but with smartphones, over all.

But even after considering these factors, devices connected to battery draining networks are improving substantially in this department. We are seeing devices like the Motorola DROID RAZR Maxx, with a whopping 3,300 mAh, and much longer battery life. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is also said to be much better than past devices. Most recently released LTE devices almost match (or surpass) the battery life of last year’s 3G devices.

These arguments leave us wondering just how much the 4G factor affects the customer’s satisfaction. In an attempt to better understand the phenomena, it would be great to see how our readers see this subject. Do you guys mind losing some juice in exchange of speeds up to 10 times faster? Do you prefer sticking with HSPA+ for now? Please participate in the poll, and hit the comments to share your opinions.

[polldaddy poll=6052141]

[Source: J.D. Power Via: The Verge]

Edgar Cervantes

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  1. Constant charging… psh. 

  2. 4G and never charging.

    -Sent from my Droid Razr MAXX.

    1. I hear you.

      I plan on checking out a Maxx soon.

    2. Ditto and loving it.

    3.  My dad has a maxx and I have a nexus with a gigantic battery, and yeah you kind of need a big battery to make a 4g phone worth being on 4g

    4. While I’m majorly impressed with how Moto have fitted that huge battery into the Maxx, I couldn’t consider buying a Motorola, for the usual reasons (shitty softwarre, locked bootloader).
      Here’s hoping some other manufacturers start following Moto’s lead! The Galaxy Note with a 2500mAh battery is a good start

  3. as of now, for me, 3G is fine for me on a smartphone on today’s internet.  that could change for me in the future as the internet advances.  but 3G is fine today and i don’t “need” 4G at the expense of battery life.  however, it is nice to be able to toggle it off and on as needed for a video, big download, etc.  also i like the fact that on CDMA devices – 4G allows simulatenous voice + data for those long grueling conference calls where you want to surf and talk at the same time from the car.

  4. Speed it More Important so I will go with 4G for Sure.

  5. 4g all the way. Charging really isn’t a big deal. I dunno why battery life is made out to be so important. Buy a car charger and stfu

    1. Agreed, I have a thunderbolt and I normally make it through the day with moderate usage, If it’s a heavier usage day I have a charger in my car a charger at my office and one in my living room, It;s not a big deal to charge it and I love the 4G LTE speeds, for my next phone I’d like to get something with a razr maxx sized battery

  6.  Since I am on boostmobile my download speeds suck to begin with I dont mind being on a decent 3g network and have a longer lasting battery. Never seen true 3g speeds let alone 4g speeds so I have no idea what those are like to begin with. It takes upwards of 30 mins to download a 5meg app on my 3g and I know on other 3g netwroks it wouldnt take nearly that long.

  7. 3g doesnt give much better battery life. take my cm7 DINC as sample. 2.5 charge per day. 

  8. I will take 4g and constant charging right now. I use 4g like I use wifi, here n there.

    The faster page load times….its like going from dial up to DSL or cable.

  9. I voted for HSPA+ but I know I was obviously biased since I’m on T-Mo. I was, however, surprised how many people voted for it. I really does get good speeds and I see little effect on batter life. Plus (I may be wrong here) aren’t there some issues when and LTE phone switched between LTE and 3G?

    1. Maybe the older modles i have the galaxy nexus and ive never had an issue with the transitionig although verizon has done a good job deplying lte in my area im always connected to 4g

  10. 4G LTE. With the new generation of power efficient processors and larger batteries, LTE phones match or exceed 3G phones in terms of battery life, e.g., Droid Razr Maxx.

    I’m sure the T-Mobile HSPA+ fans out there will disagree.

  11. I’m not normally in a 4G area, so I have 4G disabled.  When I do go to a 4G area I turn it on just to marvel at the speed test results.  But given my usage, 4G really doesn’t do anything for me anyway.  Most of my Internet use is Gmail, Google Reader, some browsing here and there, and maybe an upload or download with Google Docs.  When I try these in a 4G area, I don’t see an appreciable difference in performance on 4G vs 3G.  Maybe if I streamed video regularly I might care about 4G, but with my current usage I see no point in having my 4G radio on, ever.

    1. Ditto that. And even if 4G used the same amount of battery as 3G, I still wouldn’t leave it enabled it all the time for the simple reason that I don’t want to burn through my bandwidth quota that much quicker.

      99% of my mobile data use is simply background sync’ing where 4G makes zero difference. A better idea for people like me (without “unlimited”) is just a “turbo” mode to toggle it on once in a while when your page loads to be a little quicker, or your G+ photo uploads to finish a little sooner, etc.

  12. 3G and I turn mobile data network off most of the time lol. Well pleased for now

  13. Driod Charge with multimedia dock that charges the included spare battery = Never need to charge.

  14. I get by all day w/o recharging on my MOTOROLA PHOTON 4G, w/an extended battery from TREXCELL. For those that do not want the added bulk of an extended battery, just keep an extra battery in your wallet, purse, desk, locker, etc…….

  15. Untill there is VoLTE, I’ll go with HSPA+ (fauxG) anyday.

  16. 4G, optimized vanilla Android 4.0 and a little bit of attention paid to what is running and a multi-slot kernel so my Nexus stays at 350mhz/350mhz when charging or when the screen is off … equals great battery life. The phone maybe loses 2-3% of battery per hour when the screen is off.

    It’s a trade off .. either realize your carrying a device that’s more powerful then laptops were 5 years ago so there for they need charging … or get a flip phone.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s 3G or 4G IF you are using the device it will drain .. period. All this whining about battery life is pointless.

  17. I vote for 4G HSPA+ with good battery life…works great for me! 0_o

  18. I pay for 4G, i want 4G. If i don’t want 4G, I’ll won’t use 4G. Plain and simple. 3G had the same issue when it was 1st release it chewed away into the battery. I’m pretty sure we will get better battery life that will last us weeks. 

  19. 82mbit hspa+ please 3g battery at lte speeds if not better!

  20. iPhone users think they have 4g because the iPhone 4s shows HSPA+ AS 4g.

    1. 4G users think they have 4G because manufacturers market those phones as 4G. 

      In both cases, iPhone users are the same as Android users. They both think they have 4G when they do not.

      1. LTE or long term evolution, is called 4g because will “evolve” into LTE-Advanced which is full blown 4g while keeping all the base hardware. HSPA+ will never be 4g which is why ALL of the HSPA+ carriers are switching to LTE. Now before you say that the carriers are going to LTE because it’s the new standard, just remember, when LTE debuted the majority of carriers were already using HSPA+

        1. who cares what its called, as long as i dont have to buffet youtube videos

          1. I hate buffeting YouTube videos.

        2. “LTE or long term evolution, is called 4g because will “evolve” into LTE-Advanced” You’ve pretty much just confirmed what the other guy stated right there. It’s not *yet* true 4G (the lowest being 100 Mbit/s for high mobility access such as cars and trains) and therefore shouldn’t be called “4G” until it is. What you’re saying is comparable to saying you have a 1080p screen when you *actually* have slightly under, but above 720p. Nothing more than a lie. 

          1. Under the old standards you are correct, but those standards were lowered to include LTE as 4g

          2. And the “old standards” wouldn’t have had to be lowered if Verizon, Sprint, et. al. didn’t stupidly market “4G” when it wasn’t/isn’t even close to real 4G.

        3. I’m not sure if this is right but I heard you need class 10 equipment (which T-Mobile is getting) to easily “evolve” LTE into LTE-Advanced. Isn’t Verizon using class 8 equipment for their LTE? 

          (I have no idea what I said. I just read it somewhere and it seemed appropriate for this post.)

          1. verizon will be deplying class 10 when they finish covering their network with class 8

        4. you’re right, when LTE debuted, the majority of carriers were already using HSPA+. but there is SLOWER HSPA+ and FASTER HSPA+…. and tmobile is currently the only one who keeps upgrading their HSPA+ to faster and faster speeds, and even faster real life speed tests speeds than LTE.

  21. I had the thunderbolt and I still used the 4g even though I was always chasing outlets. I love my RAZR Maxx and hope Samsung and HTC follow suit!

    1.  Buy a big battery

  22. My RAZR Maxx has solved the problem and its nice after chasing outlets with my Thunderbolt!

  23. Android users don’t give a crap about battery life cuz we always near an outlet psh

  24. My Nexus has 3 batteries (1 extended and 2 standard) and a separate battery charger. Because the batteries charge much faster than my phone drains them, I never have to worry about battery life. Truth be told, I can manage just fine with two but the charger came with one ($30 Amazon) and I had already purchased the extended (2100mah, $30 Amazon) so now I have more battery power than I could ever use.


  25. This is exactly why I prefer HSPA + (4g ,3.5g) ha ;-)

  26. I can’t go back to 3G. My battery life isn’t good but I can charge all over the place. Not a big problem. But LTE, now that is a huge scoop of awesomeness.

  27. I just switch off LTE unless there is something large I need to download like an app, large images, some .pdf documents, etc. Anything under 5 MB, and there isn’t a significant difference. With large files such as 100, 200, 500MB+, I wouldn’t even consider using 3G.
     With tiered data becoming the norm and throttling, etc., it must suck if you don’t have wifi, but you like to download games, stream movies, etc. I grabbed Modern Combat 3 about a week ago when it was on sale, and it was a total download of about 800MB or so, and quite a few of the games I have are 500+MB each. If I was on T-Mobile and had no access to wifi, I wouldn’t be able to download 4 games before being throttled. The T-Mo salesmen in the mall always crack me up; “Hi sir! I bet I can save you a lot of money every month!”, then as soon as I bring up coverage, they state that they roam on AT&T’s network, and since they throttle at 2GB, I have “the option to use wifi”. Who the hell trains these people?! Those are supposed to be good points?

    1.  And this is why i’m holding onto my unlimited data plan with verizon for as long as I can

      1. Ditto. It’s not going to last forever, but I’m holding on to the grandfathered unlimited data for as long as I possibly can.

        1. i wish i had unlimited i pay $50 for 12 gb

        2. Why won’t it last forever?

  28. Personally, I have been pretty happy with the battery life on the Droid 4, even with 4g turned on.

  29. Why would I want these choices?   The RAZR MAX has proven I can have 4G LTE, Long Battery life and a slim enough phone.  The Samsung Note also achives decent enough battery life.  It can be done.

    1. There’s no reason for a high end phone to have less than 2000mah now. More like 25000mah when you look at how thin the maxx is, and still have a 3300mah battery

  30. My 4G sucks ass anyway so doesn’t matter

  31. 4G, constant charge. Inductive charging is the next wave. There will be disc’s at bars and restaurant tables you just lay your phone over, I can’t believe that doesn’t exist now.

    1. Thanks to our economy and old-school politicians we are decades behind in technology…

  32. I’ve had 3G and HSPA+ and I notice a massive difference in speed. I’ve never had a 4G LTE device, but I must say I’m very happy with HSPA+. Its very quick for the kind of surfing I do. I dont know how much more speed I would really need. I’ve never had a problem with a battery life either. Atrix 4G on CM9 ftw…

  33. Most people are misinformed about LTE.  You dont use up more battery on LTE if ypu are on AT&T.

    1. You’re right. Most people are uninformed at 4G all together. You don’t use more battery on any network LTE/WiMax. 

      The problem is manufacturers that use 2 radios for their networks. One for the 3G network and another for 4G. Twice the radios usually means twice the battery drain. That is a requirement for some networks in their current state, being as 4G is new and not available to everyone everywhere. As manufacturers include radios that can switch between 3G and 4G battery life will improve (marginally).

  34. That picture proves it, 4G makes you UGLY. :D LOL

  35. + 1 for the image.. Lol..

    I wonder how the girl would look like on 5g?

    1. Like Cher :D LOL

  36. Chargers everywhere. Car chargers, wall chargers at home, at work, everywhere is the trick

  37. That’s why I’m hoping Tmo goes with their 84 HSPA+ plan. Just keep enhancing that 3G. I’d love to save battery and get fast internet speeds. Tmo doesn’t need LTE. They need faster HSPA. LoL!!

    That seems easier to spread and cheaper to make. I don’t really know, but 84 is a big number, and I’ve love to say, “Oh I’m getting 84 MegaBits”. LoL!!

    1. I agree. I am getting 10-20mbps downloads right now on the 42mbs HSPA+. That is almost as fast as my home network. I am very happy with that speed on t-mobile and I only pay $20 a month for up to 10gig b4 being throttled. I just want to see the network spread out further.

  38. To me on 4G networks, I have my 2GB/mo. limit for data, and using a 4G device, on a 4G network, the only thing i see 4G being good is for people who tether, which also costs money, so you take 4G speeds using your bandwidth alotment + Tethering and your talking about more money…  I use my wifi if i want to view Hi-Def videos, and most friends/family i visit also have wifi.  Therefore to me 3G is just perfectly fine, i dont tether and unless you want your cellphone to be your next ISP i dont see a need for 4G.

  39. I just surprised that hoe the girl looking in 4G image.

    Ares Free Download

  40. I just toggle.  Most mobile web surfing doesnt require it.

  41. I would be all for sacrificing my battery for 4G on Verizon, but there are still some areas in South FL where it is spotty. At work I don’t need it since we have wifi.

  42. Get a Moto Maxx and have 4g and battery life. Oh yea and a great phone. I love mine and it is better than my iPhone battery life on 3g. Only reason have iPhone is because there was a screw up and I got the 4s 16g for $20. Download speeds seem so slow on 3g whenever I have app updates with the iPhone.

  43. I do think 4G is amazing as far as speeds go, but when broken down to the fine lines of 3G vs. 4G, I will stick to 3G, thank you. Reason is because with all of the LTE outages from Verizon and the throttled speeds of other networks, it seems that 4G is still something these companies just cant help but to whip out, show off, and hide it when it gets soft. With all the troubles, it hardly seems worth it.

    Okay, lets set networks aside now. My Electrify off of USCC is pretty nifty. Its 3G, and I’d say it does precisely what I look for in a smartphone. Compared to my friends’ 4G phone and the older cousin of mine, Photon, we compared speed quality. In aspects of video quality, the Photon beat my phone in the buffer by a long shot, but once my Electrify buffered enough, there was no difference in performance quality, even in HD streaming. Audio was a tie as far as we could tell when using Pandora on high-quality settings. When it came to online gaming via network, the phones raced along side by side with no hindrance in performance at all on either phone. Then we took to our battery life. Within an entire day, we kept our phones on and lit with screen time-outs off, and playing music from Pandora. After a span of just 3 hours, the Photon had already lost over 1/3rd of its battery life where my Electrify was chugging along at 80% battery life. Before each test, my friend and I restarted and recharged the phones for best performance possible. Neither of us were using custom UIs and neither phone was rooted.

    Overall, I think I’m going to stick to 3G. Of course I envy 4G speeds, but to each his own.

  44. HTC Rezound with the larger battery and loving every battery hogging moment of 4G. If I didn’t have the extended battery, I would just use a 3G only phone as I was getting 4hrs of max use out of it prior.

  45. Here’s the thing; I’ve never actually OWNED a 4G or HSPA+ device but from what I’ve read and heard from users HSPA+ is the way to go. I’m running the Nexus S on T-Mobile and as you all know Google unfortunatly forgot/left out the 4G/HSPA+ antenna on their last “flagship” device so unless I upgrade I’m stuck with an AMAZING 3G only phone. Now people, I want you all to think back to the days before cell phone even had full web access and apps. Then came Edge, 2G, 3G and now 4G/HSPA+/WiMax. Now I will admit 3G isn’t doing it for me anymore; I’d like to be able to video chat on the go or stream HD content without buffering but HSPA+ will allow me to do that without completely killing my battery so I must say that I’m glad I’ve been with TMO so long because when I upgrade my next phone will for SURE be HSPA+ enabled and I can’t wait to feel the speed. Now I know its “theoretical” speeds but if T-Mobile’s HSPA+ phones can actually pull in 42MBPS or anything even close to that well then I say stick a fork it T-Mobile becuase you’re done! You created an extrememly fast mobile network while also watching out for your user’s battery. I mean truthfully and PLEASE correct me if you disagree but who out there REALLY needs download speeds on their phone faster than 42MBPS? I mean what would you even be doing? Downloading realtime changable, 3D enhanced schematics on operating the device to bring ZPeter back from the other universe? (Fringe BABY!) Anyway, HSPA+ is fast enough. Instead of making our Android phones faster why don’t they focus on giving us a droid with a display that’s even close to Apple’s REtina display? Now that I’ll take.

  46. First why not stop trying to be the “Thinnest” phone on the market and go for the best all around phone. I have always purchased extended batteries when I get a new phone because I know the stock one will never last a full day with even regular usage in my case. So thin goes out the door for me right from the start. Thin also seems more fragile but that’s just me. Currently I have the Samsung Epic 4G with the biggest extended battery available. On my next phone purchase I will jump on a bulky phone due to its battery lasting all day using 4G without thinking twice. With the extended battery size on my Epic I feel safe walking around and using the phone without feeling like I’m going to drop it and it feels solid. It also doesn’t feel like it’s too big either. When making future phones, what ever size battery you’re thinking of putting in it, just go ahead and double it. Even then I bet I’ll still have to get a second one for backup. Very few phones that have come out were able to keep at least half of the consumers happy with battery life. That has to say something. Just my thoughts.

  47. I keep my VZW G-Nexus on 4G all the time and I get 8-10hrs out of it. I also have the 2100mah battery, with a charger, and I swap between them whenever one goes dead. I love the LTE speed of the device and so far I can’t complain much about battery. I carry the battery inside the carrying case along with my G-Nexus. It doesn’t bother me to carry an extra battery but it would be nice if the other OEMs follow on Motorolas steps and get a 3000mah + battery in the device and keep it under 9mm thick. and have them make it removable.

  48. I have a gsm galaxy nexus not only is it slimmer than the lte version but it also runs on hspa+ which is fast enough for me. Anything else you might as well he on a desktop because you’re definitely gonna need a desktop sized battery to power it. hspa+ is fine for right now

  49. I like LTE, it’s super fast.  But for fuck sake Google…  Bake in an LTE widget so I can use it only when I need it.  Is that too much to ask?

  50. Love 4G on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus. I’m spoiled to removable batteries though. Always have spares. No worries on when or how long I’ll be able to use it.

    Charges up quickly and usually stays charged fairly well, especially for as much as I use it. The charging “kits” are nice. I wish every brand of phone battery came with them!

  51. I have a Droid Charge, and the battery is already showing its age.  It seems to me that the chips and designs will continue to improve and make more efficient use of the energy available.  I wish Verizon would let me have a new device 1 year early though – Galaxy III anyone?

  52. My battery life in 4g isn’t too bad since I got an app that turns off data when my GNex is in sleep. If I’m not leaving West LA, I leave it in 3g, because Verizon’s 4g coverage on LA’s westside is terrible, due to having moderate hilly topology while cell tower placement assumes it has the topology of a Kansas wheat field. Strike that, in Kansas they mount the antennas for cell transmission double or triple the height they have them in LA.
    I have to say that when I’m browsing the net and have a 4g signal, There’s no comparison of the speed. 

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