Telkom LTE – New tests reveal massive smartphone battery drain

New tests by MyBroadband have revealed that accelerated smartphone battery drainage on Telkom’s LTE network impacts more than one device.

MyBroadband recently reported that Telkom Mobile users were experiencing reduced smartphone battery life when using 4G/LTE on Telkom Mobile.

The users stated that their smartphone batteries went flat much faster when connected to Telkom’s LTE network, compared to other networks.

They also reported that forcing their devices to roam on MTN’s network saw their battery life improve.

Nokia 5 test

To see how big the battery usage difference was between networks, MyBroadband conducted a controlled test using four Nokia 5 smartphones.

A SIM from Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Cell C were placed in the devices.

The Nokia 5 phones were purchased at the same time, have experienced almost identical usage since first being turned on, and all ran the same version of Android.

The same Google account was also used across all the devices, and all settings were checked for consistency.

Signal strength of the networks were also checked, and all devices registered between -70dBM and -82dBm.

We then connected the devices to their respective mobile networks, and an active Wi-Fi connection, and the phones were left idle.

At the end of the test, the Telkom device had sustained significantly more battery usage.

The biggest difference was between Telkom and Vodacom, which were at 37% and 71% battery level respectively.

Following the tests, Telkom told MyBroadband it had identified the cause of the battery drainage on the Nokia 5 – and was “implementing a series of network optimisations”.

“Telkom has tested other devices and the battery impact on the devices is not the same as with the Nokia 5,” added Telkom.

Samsung Galaxy S8 test

Telkom’s statement that the battery impact on other devices was not the same was in contrast to multiple reports from MyBroadband readers and forum members.

These Telkom users complained of serious battery drainage on their devices, which ranged from Samsung Galaxy handsets to Apple iPhones.

To test the validity of Telkom’s statement, we conducted a new set of tests – this time using Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphones.

The Galaxy S8 phones were purchased at the same time and have experienced almost identical usage since first being turned on.

All devices were running the same version of Android, and used the same Google account.

For the test, all background apps on the phones were closed and all battery settings were made the same.

Options like screen brightness were also set, to ensure consistency.

We used five Galaxy S8 phones in the test, with a SIM from Telkom, Cell C, Vodacom, MTN, and Rain placed in a device.

A custom version of the MyBroadband Speed Test app was then used to test the signal strength of the networks.

Signal Strength
Network Signal
Vodacom -71dBm
Telkom -78dBm
MTN -80dBm
Cell C -80dBm
Rain -82dBm

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

The devices were then set to all have a connection to their respective mobile network, were all connected to an active Wi-Fi connection, and had their batteries charged to 100%.


The test was started on 19 July 2018 at 18:00, with all devices on 100% battery – placed in the same location, a house in Centurion.

They were then left idle, and checked again at regular intervals – as detailed in the table below.

The results were conclusive: the Samsung Galaxy S8 on Telkom Mobile suffered significantly more battery usage than the other devices.

Battery Test
Network Battery Level
20 July – 17:15
Vodacom 84%
Rain 81%
Cell C 80%
MTN 71%
Telkom 42%
20 July – 20:40
Vodacom 82%
Rain 78%
Cell C 78%
MTN 67%
Telkom 35%
21 July – 08:15
Vodacom 77%
Rain 70%
Cell C 70%
MTN 56%
Telkom 7%

Telkom comment

Telkom was asked for comment on the results, but did not reply to questions by the time of publication.

Now read: Samsung likely to drop fingerprint reader in latest tablet

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Telkom LTE – New tests reveal massive smartphone battery drain