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Is 5G a big drain on smartphone batteries?

Answer: It’s complicated.

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As with just about everything that has to do with technology, the question of whether using a 5G connection will be a big drain on your phone’s battery does not have a simple yes or no answer. The best we can come up with is that it depends.

It depends on a number of factors including how you use your phone and what the 5G coverage where you are looks like. 5G can, in some cases, save battery life because it is 10 times faster than 4G — so downloading a large file on 5G will use less battery power than it would on 4G simply because it doesn’t take as long. This can be a slippery slope, however, because with faster speeds you may find yourself using more data, which will use more battery.

There’s also the question of coverage. 4G is almost everywhere in the U.S., meaning your phone isn’t going to be spending much time hunting for a good connection. The same is not the case for 5G, which is not nearly as widespread and robust as 4G. On any network, your phone will use more battery if it is having a hard time finding a strong signal — with 5G’s current minimal coverage, this is far more likely to occur.

The bottom line is that, under the right circumstances, using 5G can consume more battery power than 4G. However, there are a lot of variables in play, and many of them are likely to go away or become smaller in the coming years as the technology improves and becomes more widespread. So don’t be too quick to blame 5G if your phone is having battery issues, because there’s a good chance it’s not the culprit.