Quick Question: Cellular or WiFi when both available—battery

I’m at the airport and I have strong cellular service and WiFi. I’m using my iPad. I don’t need both cellular and WiFi. Which uses less battery? I’ll turn off the one that uses the most energy. Thanks!

One uses minutes and the other does not (if this matters more).

Otherwise, the short answer from this article and this article is that the answer is a wash. Prefer WiFi and flip to Airplane mode when signals are weak.


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It depends. Generally in normal conditions I would say that cellular is a bigger of a battery hog. Apple’s tech specs for the iPad say that with cellular you get up to 9 hours of battery life and with Wi-Fi up to 10 and it doesn’t really seem to depend on the model – Pro 11, Pro 12,9 and the basic 10,2 (no 5G) all have the same numbers. Although if I had strong cellular signal (and good speeds) I would probably stick with cellular – more secure.

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I prefer cellular over public hotspots anytime.

If I use a public hotspot I do so with a VPN, which also impacts battery life.

As you will likely not be working at the airport for hours on end I think the difference in battery life is negligible.


I am working at the airport—a total of five hours :stopwatch:of layovers. :confused: Your information makes a lot of sense so I turned off WiFi and my VPN and will stick with cellular. Thanks for the advice!

I suppose the saving grace with long layovers is that I’m getting hours of uninterrupted time to work on a book project. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Cellular is a bigger battery hog (straightforward radio distance physics), but when a WiFi connection is present, I’m fairly sure an iPad doesn’t power the cellular connection. A phone would keep a low power cellular connection for calls and texts but a cellular iPad doesn’t do those things. Dr JJW’s Quora link said something similar.

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