The Truth About WP Email
Think the “push email” myth was pretty well busted here a while back. This time up, we taka a look at email in general. It’s been a busy few weeks in the Microsoft/WP world, with the introduction of the Microsoft Surface Tablet, the unveiling of WP8. And, oh yeah, another firmware update for the Lumia 900 from Nokia. That update brought some tweaks to an already awesome phone, but also introduced a little glitch, at least for me. Since the update, L900s will no longer display battery percent remaining in the Battery Saver (or my homebrew Battery Meter app) applet, between 100% and 91%. So, after a full charge your phone will remain at 100% till it reaches 90% and then drop in 1% increments after that. Still don’t know if this is a feature or bug, but it has changed the way I do my battery testing.
I actually started this round of testing in early June, but decided to throw out all the results pre-firmware update as they couldn’t be compared to post-firmware update data. Add a few, “we need you in early today” days, plus an overextended stay by a relative, and a four day test took closer to three weeks. Oh well.
I could have predicted the results of this test but needed to see it through, just to be sure. In previous testing, I would charge my phone to 100% and then use it till it dropped to 99% , indicating to me that it was no longer topped off. With the recent firmware change that’s no longer possible. So I am now starting my tests fresh off the charger and presumably at 100% (your phone will cycle from 98% / 100% to keep the battery from overcharging). As this is in no way an exact science, there are going to be variables. That’s why I repeat all of my tests at least twice, looking for consistency, or at least a fair average.
To recap, my phone (Lumia 900) is setup with the following:
- Data (mostly LTE) and Wi-Fi ON – Bluetooth OFF
- 8 Active Background Tasks (3 Internal)
- Location Services ON
- 5 Email accounts syncing (3 push, 1 every 15 minutes, 1 every 2 hours)
- Phone set down and untouched for a 8 hour period
My previous baseline tests have resulted in an 18%, or 2.25% per hour, battery drain in an overnight 8 hour test. Because of of the firmware change I ran several “baseline” tests (with everything above turned on) and came up with 16%, 15% & 16%, so we are going to stick with 16%, or 2% battery drain per hour. Why the difference? I think the phone normally hung at 100% longer than it should have, hence the reason for me wanting to start my test at 99%. But it’s not a big deal. What we are looking for here is the difference between one scenario and another, not necessarily the actual numbers. For clarification, my Background Tasks include; USA Today, Fox News, Weather Channel, Mehdoh, Urban Dictionary, Network Dashboard, Clever-To-Do and Battery Meter (a homebrew app set to update every 10 minutes).
Test 1 – To prepare for the test I set all five of my email accounts to “manually”, charged my phone to 100%, unplugged it and set it down untouched for 8 hours. Results: 100% at 12:32AM – 87% at 8:34AM – Difference: 13%, or 1.63% per hour. About what I would have expected. A 3% drop over 8 hours, or 6% per average day. Let’s try this again.
Test 2 – Same setup as above. Results: 100% at 12:45AM – 88% at 8:45AM – Difference: 12% or 1.5% per hour. Ok, well that’s pretty close. They do say, three’s a charm though.
Test 3 – Same setup as above. Results: 100% at 12:08AM – 87% at 8:08AM – Difference: 13% or 1.63% per hour. That settles it; 3% drop every 8 hours. Note that as with most of my tests I did have a couple anomalies. Between two of these tests I had one night with a whopping 23% drop. And during my pre-firmware update tests, I had results of 13%, 22% and 24%. Nothing stood out on the tests that caused excess drain and all of the test parameters remained unchanged. The simple explanation would be AT&T playing around with LTE, but I do have another theory that I will be testing soon.
Fifth Truth – Having multiple email accounts (I have 5) syncing via “as items arrive” or a timed interval will use some battery through the course of the day. But no more than about 6% per day on average. IMHO not a bad tradeoff for the convenience of having your mail waiting for you. Note: if you receive hundreds of emails a day, your mileage may vary.
Next up; there is no shortage of rumors flying around regarding features and functions that steal your juice. One such rumor involved the standalone Facebook app. This won’t take too long. Promise. LTE vs. Edge after that. And one that has me curious; IE open tabs. More to follow.
The solution? Throw that pathetic phone out the window (or maybe try and sell it) and get something else – anything else.
How dare you say anything blasphemous about the single most important phone, next to maybe the Focus, ever released for WP. It is carrying the future of WP on its shoulders. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything else available today.
2 Bunny: I did that, then got a Blackberry, then a iPhone, the Galaxy Nexus. Last week I went crawling back to WP in shame. All the other platforms really suck a$$ in comparison.
Haven’t you head the 900 carries nothing on its shoulders, it got the axe form Microsoft and Nokia updates will cease come October/November. They say that that phone isn’t good enough to be a real windows phone. Thanks for playing “lets see if we can get a following marketing crap to people” we don’t appreciate you in the least.
Tom: Can you provide a link from Microsoft stating that there will be no updates after WP7.8? I thought about this today and realized that my 19 month old Surround has only received 2 (official) updates; NoDo and Mango. And it is possible that it may not get another. Should I be pissed that my 19 month old phone might be, so to speak, obsolete. With the unofficial, forced 8107 update, it still work flawlessly.
The L900 is getting Tango any day and we have been assured of WP7.8. No word on anything after that. But we have till October 2012 for the upgrade cycle to end (18 months), so I anticipate at least one more, along with multiple firmware updates. What’s not to like about that.
I don’t have the same luck with “as items arrive”. There might as well be a batter-sucking straw shoved into my Titan when I’ve got push email set up. And I much prefer the Titan’s screen to the Lumia’s by the way. More natural looking. Oh, and larger too.
D-Money: Interesting. Can you clarify if your push mail is tied to an Enterprise server, or simply using Hotmail, Live, GMail, etc. Apparently there is a difference. With Hotmail/Live, push actually saves me battery.
@Jim – Your surround only got 2 updates because AT&T Wireless are the worst wireless carrier in North America. You should be mad at them, not Microsoft. The HTC Surround was also sold by Rogers and those phones received all updates.
I have the AT&T Surround (which is up to date thanks to Rogers) and a Titan. My Titan hasn’t received ANY updates (while Titans world wide have received them all). You see where I’m going with this? Tack on the fact that AT&T said the Lumia 900 would be the BIGGEST MOBILE PHONE LAUNCH EVER. They released it on a holiday when stores were closed, only features it on their website for a few days, and did not marketing push.
AT&T calling themselves the PREMIER Windows Phone carrier is a joke and a primary reason that Windows Phone never got a foot hold in the US.
@McHale Right on! I’ve got AT&T because, frankly, where I am the coverage is great, and I’ve never had a complaint about the service, except for not getting the last update on the Surround. My parent’s have had T-Mobile, and their coverage is crap. (I just found out that today they’ve switched to Consumer Cellular, which piggybacks AT&T, because they get more minutes at just over half the cost through AARP.)
I’ve been saying all along that AT&T, and then the other carriers in the US, have barely been paying WP even token lip service. It’s only with the release of the Lumia 900 that reps have known anything about WP (in general).
They’re all to busy kissing Cupertino’s a$$.
@Jim – That’s because Windows Mobile has no future. After Microsoft screwed it up after WM6.5, it’s merely a feature phone.
@nlm – Maybe the problem exists somewhere between the chair and the keyboard. Windows Mobile 7 sucks ass.
– 2 Bunny
@2 Bunny: I thought that too. I saw a therapist and randomly hired 4 phone consultants. We all concluded the problem was a very s-l-o-w and unreliable Android, a weird and confusing BB interface and a very boring iOS with 4 dozen teeny tiny icons that just stare back you. Nope, WP sucks the least a$$ in comparison. Prediction: you have to have the last word and will reply with a horses-a$$ comment.
@nlm – Well, not exactly. I arrived at my conclusion without a therapist and with some common sense. Stock sucks, but my Epic is just plain smoother, faster, can do more, and is all around better than any Windows Mobile 7 device. No “horse $ last words comment” needed ☺.
Exactly nlm, exactly.
I use Hotmail, Live and GMail only. I just switched back to every 30 min a few days ago, and oh man, and the straw is now removed from my battery.
Thanks for the feedback, D-Money. Very interesting. I have two Hotmail accounts and 1 Live account set to “push” with no noticeable difference in battery drain, with the accounts enabled or disabled. Probably average 15-25 messages a day with those three accounts.
Wonder if it has something to do with GMail, or maybe your message count is significantly higher. But syncing every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, (48 mandatory checks per account, per day) the actual number of connections is probably not much different.