Telkom LTE draining smartphone batteries – Reports

Many MyBroadband users have been complaining of reduced smartphone battery life after enabling 4G/LTE on Telkom Mobile.

When smartphone owners generally complain about battery life, the most common causes are background processes, high display brightness settings, or other user-controlled options.

However, LTE modems draw a fair amount of power and can eat into your battery – no matter which mobile network you are connected to.

While LTE technology does allow for faster download speeds compared to preceding technologies, this improvement often comes at a price – more battery power usage.

Users have stated their battery drain is higher when connected to Telkom LTE, however, in comparison to other networks.


Complaints from Telkom Mobile users about the battery drainage issue included the following.

  • “About 2-3 weeks ago my iPhone’s battery life just suddenly became terrible, would go from full to empty after a few hours. On a whim I turned off LTE, and it’s been perfect on 3G ever since. If I turn LTE back on, then the battery starts draining immediately again.”
  • “Same experience for me, much better battery life on 3G. Even when I’m connected to Wi-Fi most of the day.”
  • “I have the same on my Galaxy S8. I forced roaming to MTN and the battery is much better.”
  • “I ported to [Telkom Mobile] a few weeks ago and noticed exact the same thing.”

User scenario test

Following the reports, MyBroadband conducted a “user scenario” test, using a SIM from Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Cell C, and four Nokia 5 smartphones.

A SIM was inserted in each Nokia 5, with the devices all running the same version of Android. The Nokia 5 phones were purchased at the same time, and have experienced almost identical usage since first being turned on.

The same Google account was also used across all the test devices, and all settings – such as screen brightness and Data Saver – were checked prior to testing to ensure consistency.

The Nokia 5 test bench was then placed in a house located in the Centurion area.

The MyBroadband Speed Test app was used to test the download speeds of the respective networks, and to measure their signal strengths on the devices.

As the strength of the signal to a smartphone can affect the power usage of its LTE modem, the networks needed to have similar strengths to ensure a fair testing environment.

The speed tests also provided an indication of the connection quality, and all networks produced LTE speeds.

Speed Test
Network Download Upload Signal Strength
Telkom 67.52Mbps 28.81Mbps -73dBm
MTN 41.09Mbps 4.18Mbps -77dBm
Vodacom 36.81Mbps 4.48Mbps -82dBm
Cell C 31.03Mbps 9.19Mbps -70dBm

The MyBroadband Speed Test app states that -140dBm is considered a “weak” signal, while -44dBm is considered “strong”.

Following the speed tests, the Nokia 5 phones were all charged to 100% and then left idle – with Wi-Fi and mobile data connectivity on.

A data manager app was also left open on the devices to ensure no abnormal usage was taking place during the test.

After leaving the phones for 11 hours in the same location, with the same set-up, the following battery results were observed.

Battery Drainage Test
Nokia 5 Battery Level
Telkom 54%
MTN 84%
Vodacom 84%
Cell C 80%

LTE data usage test

Once the battery levels were documented, Wi-Fi connectivity was turned off on the Nokia 5 phones.

Using their LTE mobile data connections, all devices were then set to play the same video at the same resolution in the YouTube app.

After the video had played for 30 minutes, the phones were left to sit idle again for another 30 minutes.

The battery levels of the devices were then checked.

Battery Drainage Test – Round 2
Nokia 5 Battery Level
Telkom 37%
MTN 71%
Vodacom 71%
Cell C 66%

Telkom investigating

Telkom told MyBroadband it was investigating the reported issue, and would provide feedback once its investigation was complete.

Now read: Faster Telkom LTE speeds following end of Night Surfer deal – Users

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Telkom LTE draining smartphone batteries – Reports