Should You Leave Wi-Fi On on Your Smartphone

Namrata Gogoi

If you are using a smartphone or have a couple of smart gadgets like door cameras in your home, you must know the advantages a strong Wi-Fi network. Without Wi-Fi or a cellular connection, a smartphone would be another one of those dumb phones from the early 2000s. Moreover, connecting to a Wi-Fi network is fairly easy.

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The humble wireless network makes many things possible, whether it's setting up a slew of smart home devices and showing you the latest Instagram updates of your friends or receiving critical emails from your workplace.

But at the end of the day, should you connect to a public Wi-Fi network? Rather, should you leave Wi-Fi on your phone when you step out of the house?

Well, that's what we are going to find in this post today. Let's jump straight in, shall we?

How Does Wi-Fi Impact Battery Life

When it comes to the battery life on your phone, several factors come into play, such as screen-on time, background app usage, etc. But does Wi-Fi affect your phone's battery life? Well, there's not a straight answer to that.

Compared to cellular data, using Wi-Fi might not have a significant impact on the battery life of your phone. Plus, the Wi-Fi connections on our phones are smart these days. If it finds a spotty Wi-Fi connection, it will switch to the cellular data and vice versa.

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But there's a slight catch—Network Speed. If your home Wi-Fi network's overall speed is slow, it'll impact the phone's battery. In such a case, your phone's driver will work at its optimum to find a strong network to avoid data loss or packet drops. And the same is true for mobile networks as well.

Apart from that, your phone's connection settings also play a major role. Most Android phones let you search for public Wi-Fi networks. When enabled, this will prompt your phone to constantly search for available networks when you are on the move. Another connection that also uses both Location and Wi-Fi services is Wi-Fi scanning. But then again, you have to keep in mind that Wi-Fi scanning runs even when your phone's Wi-Fi switch is disabled.

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So yes, if your Location Mode is set to High Accuracy, even with Wi-Fi off, it can impact the battery life. Plenty of factors come into the picture, and these are some of them.

Data Speed

The Wi-Fi network is generally faster than most mobile networks unless you live in the vicinity of a top-end 5G network (and you have a compatible phone). So whether you are sending out an email with several attachments or transferring larger files, switching to Wi-Fi will yield you more results.

The same is also true if you are streaming songs or movies. You will need to stay within a strong network. If you are opening a web page to read an article, then, of course, speed is not much of a factor here.

Privacy Issues

Unlike a few years ago, most Wi-Fi networks are no longer open. The Wi-Fi alliance released Wi-Fi Protected Access (or WPA) as a security standard in 2003. There are two more versions out after that.

WPA2 was released in 2004 and is one of the popular standards even today. Unfortunately, even though it's secure than its predecessor, there are some vulnerabilities. One of the popular vulnerabilities was codenamed Krack, in which hackers could read sensitive information from the Wi-Fi traffic.

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Another recent case was when researchers found vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi setup, which lets hackers inject malicious code into Wi-Fi traffic.

On the positive side, WPA2 networks give the owner of the network privacy and security. That said, if you need to send over sensitive information via a public Wi-Fi network, the first option would be to see the nature of that network. For instance, iPhone users can see the nature of the security standard of the Wi-Fi network.

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Or, you can use VPN services like Proton VPN if you are unsure about the nature of the Wi-Fi network.

Nonetheless, if you are simply in the mood to read up on a few articles while you are waiting for a friend in a mall or a cafe, the current WPA standards make sure that you can do so without trading sensitive information. But of course, you need to keep the potential risks in mind.

Again, if you want a secure home Wi-Fi network, it's best to switch to WPA3-approved wireless routers like the ASUS RT-AX86U or ensure that your current devices are updated to the new standard.

Should You Leave Your Phone's Wi-Fi On

As you may have already guessed, turning off the Wi-Fi doesn't significantly affect the battery life of your phone. As long as you keep the potential risks in mind while you are on the move, the odds are that your transactions over Wi-Fi will be safer. At the same time, you should ensure that your smartphone is updated with the latest security patches. And the same holds for your wireless Wi-Fi router as well.

So, should you leave the Wi-Fi enabled on your phone? As long as you have a good Wi-Fi router inside your house, we say, why not?


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Namrata loves writing about products and gadgets. She has been working for Guiding Tech since 2017 and has around three years of experience writing features, how-tos, buying guides, and explainers. Previously she worked as an IT Analyst at TCS, but she found her calling elsewhere.