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The Facts About Beacons, Bluetooth, & Your Phone Battery

Maddie Lakind
created on
Apr 18, 2016

The Facts about Beacons, Bluetooth, & Your Phone Battery


Phone Battery. The phrase alone invokes anxiety. Fully charged. 80%. 40%. 15%. Dead. And always when you need it, right? While there are numerous culprits to the smartphone battery drainage problem, consumers often think having Bluetooth active is among them — because it was until somewhat recently. 


When Apple released the iPhone 4S in October 2011, a new day dawned in the world of smartphone Bluetooth. Since then, smartphones have been using a new Bluetooth protocol called Bluetooth 4.0, aka "Bluetooth Low Energy" or "Bluetooth Smart". First, this post will explore the history of Bluetooth and what exactly changed with Bluetooth 4.0. Second, we'll explore statistics and studies from third-parties on Bluetooth's effect on battery. Third, we'll show how 7 days of normal iPhone usage with Wisely monitoring for beacons affects battery performance. Let's take each item in turn. 


Bluetooth: A Brief History


When tackling the issue of phone battery drainage, it's no surprise that Bluetooth maintains such a poor repuation. When it was invented in 1989 by a team of engineers at Ericsson, Bluetooth required an immense amount of power—relative to today's Bluetooth—to transfer data across devices. Even though services using early-days Bluetooth may have been useful, the resulting loss of battery life often left people more frustrated than satisfied. 


In 2006, Nokia created Bluetooth Low Energy, a technology that transmitted data 33 times faster than its predecessor. In addition, Bluetooth LE required half as much energy at peak consumption (less than 15 mA vs. less than 30mA). Increasing the speed of data transfer and reducing current consumption meant created a multiplicative improvement in battery performance.   

In 2010, Bluetooth LE was merged into the main Bluetooth standard with the release of the Bluetooth 4.0 protocol. Shortly thereafter, device manufacturers picked up on it. 

In October 2011, Apple introduced Bluetooth LE with iPhone 4S, which ran iOS 5. Android supported Bluetooth LE starting Android 4.3, and made several more enhancements in Android 4.4.


So, now you're up to speed on what changed with Bluetooth 4.0, now let's talk about some third-party analysis of Bluetooth 4.0's impact on battery performance in general. 


The Facts on Bluetooth LE


A recent study by GoTenna aimed to show consumers what really drains their phone batteries. Their examination took factors like Bluetooth, Screen Brightness, Location Services, and Airplane mode into account and the results proved pretty shocking. Researchers found that the battery difference between Bluetooth LE turned on or off was so small that there meters were unable to read the results. 


Under the "Battery" section of Apple's user support page, Bluetooth isn't even mentioned in their list of potential trouble areas on personal devices.


bluetooth battery usage



Finally, at Wisely, we understand this lingering perception, and we've made sure our app does not suck the life from users' phones. Per the screenshot above, after a week of normal iPhone use with Wisely, the app accounted for 1% of total battery usage. (Note: the bottom red icon is the app for restaurant diners.)   


So breath easy. Relax. Smile even. Because Wisely has you and your phone battery covered. Just put the Wisely app on your phone, and put the phone in your pocket. Magic. 




Wisely empowers restaurant groups to grow and sustain profitability by acquiring valuable new guests, converting them into regulars, and keeping them happy for life. Our software is easy-to-use and enhances productivity, so staff can focus on what really matters. For more information or media inquiries, please contact us at hello@getwisely.com.