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Does turning on WiFi (without connecting to any wireless network) use battery?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, turning on features will use more power. According to Apple, you can save power by turning off WiFi if you're not using that feature:

Optimize Your Settings

Depending on how they are configured, a few features may decrease your iPhone battery life. For example, the frequency with which you retrieve email and the number of email accounts you auto-check can both affect battery life. The tips below apply to an iPhone running iOS 5.0 or later and may help extend your battery life.

and more specifically:

Turn off Wi-Fi: If you rarely use Wi-Fi, you can turn it off to save power. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and set Wi-Fi to Off. Note that if you frequently use your iPhone to browse the web, battery life may be improved by using Wi-Fi instead of cellular data networks.

The same principle is true for all other features (bluetooth, push email, etc.). Turn off what you don't need to conserve power.

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Yes. Your phone will be polling periodically for available networks, which will use battery. Even you set it to not ask to join networks, the radio is powered up and that takes some amount of power to do.

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Similar power drain goes for having Bluetooth active. – afragen Feb 22 '12 at 23:29

Interestingly enough some people have found turning on WiFi to actually cause them to have better battery life. This is very much dependent on how you use it, but the people that I know who have experienced this say they are in strong wifi buildings with weak 3g signal. Having all of their email going over WiFi has saved them battery life.

But apart from that, all of the other guys are right, it will pull more power since you aren't actively connected but still pulling for networks.

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