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Could AT&T's MicroCell be draining battery life from handsets?

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Could AT&T's MicroCell be draining battery life from handsets?
AT&T's MicroCell is a femtocell device used by those who have poor cellular reception. The device takes the cellular signal to and from a phone and transmits it over the users internet signal. Unfortunately, some owners of handsets are finding that the MicroCell is also draining the batteries in their phone.

For example, one Samsung Focus S owner said that his battery was losing 15%-20% of its strength every hour while the Microcell was plugged in and in use. When the MicroCell was unplugged, battery drain on the Windows Phone model was a more respectable 1% over two hours. Over at AT&T's user forum, there are many complaints about the issue with one user having problems with the Samsung Captivate which is an Android phone. Another Captivate owner had his phone and MicroCell replaced by AT&T, and that did not fix the problem.

AT&T MicroCell

AT&T MicroCell

Another complaint comes from an Apple iPhone 4S user on iOS 5.0.1. The handset suffered an overnight battery drain of 3%-4% with the MicroCell plugged out. With it plugged in, the drain was 55%. The same user found that the phone's signal without the MicroCell plugged in is -101 versus -49 with it plugged in which proves that it is not a matter of the phone working harder with the MicroCell plugged in.

So far, there is no comment from AT&T. We'd love to have some comments from our readers, though. If you have an AT&T branded handset and have suffered an unusually large battery drain while using a MicroCell, drop us a comment in the box below!

source: AT&T via WPCentral

8 Comments
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posted on 27 Dec 2011, 02:03 1

1. JordanCox (Posts: 21; Member since: 17 Apr 2011)


We've got one and my battery is the same as it always is on my Atrix. It sounds like these people are making things up or something. My sisters have iPhones and they don't complain about any battery issues either.

posted on 27 Dec 2011, 03:24

2. stevebrock (Posts: 1; Member since: 27 Dec 2011)


I believe that I'm having this problem as well. I have an app on my Focus S that graphs battery levels. I've tested this by turning the Microcell tower off for 4 hours and on for 4 hours. The Microcell-on method drained my battery a good twice as fast as the Microcell-off method.

I called AT&T and they basically told me to pound sand. They said that they can't be held responsible for battery drain when using the Microcell tower. The representative, Jennifer, told me that if I were home, I should keep the phone on the charger. She then told me that she could give me Cisco's phone number. I've never been more disappointed. If she'd simply offered to pass my information up the support chain, I'd have been much happier. Such crass honesty sucks!

posted on 27 Dec 2011, 09:20

3. ibap (Posts: 681; Member since: 09 Sep 2009)


"plugged out"?

posted on 27 Dec 2011, 10:00

4. brenner182 (Posts: 29; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)


i think they ment unplugged

posted on 27 Dec 2011, 10:20 2

5. networkdood (Posts: 6244; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Normally, connections to EDGE, 3G, HSPA+, 4G LTE will drain your battery faster than no connection. Starting with EDGE the battery drain is minimal and as you work your up to 4G connections, it only increases. The Green Power android app limits the drain. Now, as for this microcell drain issue, it should help it, as the app only allows slight connectivity when the phone is not in use. You can also turn off data overnight - who needs to receive FB and email alerts while asleep?

posted on 27 Dec 2011, 12:04

6. gregoryxandrew (Posts: 1; Member since: 27 Dec 2011)


This is definitely valid, I've had this issue for months with Several Handsets... usually phone's won't last me even a half a day with moderate use if I'm home.... I was thinking it was just the devices that had horrible battery life. Unfortunately, I don't get service inside my house with AT&T...

So a week ago I bought the DROID RAZR from VZW. I'm not thrilled to be using Verizon, but I have no other option at this point.

posted on 31 Dec 2011, 01:13 1

7. troyrig (Posts: 1; Member since: 31 Dec 2011)


I have a Focus S and the battery life has been horrible, going from 100% to 0% in six hours while I sleep. I read this and other articles regarding the Microcell. Sure enough, I turned mine off and I've used only 70% in 15 hours. Guess I'll be taking my chances without that POS. It drops half of my calls anyway.

posted on 22 Apr 2012, 10:30

8. pgeller (Posts: 1; Member since: 22 Apr 2012)


Definitely an issue. I tested battery drain with a new Lumia 900 using the Nokia Diagnostics app. Consumption averages 120mA with the MicroCell off, and closer to 400mA with it on. Explains why my battery lasts 6 hours sitting at home. FYI, WiFi apparently draws little current.

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