Do cell phones try "extra hard" when they get a weak signal?

Just a curiosity question. From time to time, we visit my in-laws’ house. At their place, we don’t get cellular service hardly at all. Basically, I have to stand on one foot, lean out over the railing, hold one hand in the air, and maybe I’ll get one bar. Usually, when we get there, we just put our phones on the nightstand and forget about them until we go out somewhere.

We’ve noticed, however, that our phone’s batteries don’t last when we’re down there. At home, my phone will last a week with normal use. At the in-laws’, the phone is dead within a day with no use at all. So, does the phone expend extra energy trying to reach a distant cell tower?

The phones are Motorola RAZR v3xx.

Yes, basically. If the phones can’t connect to the network with the lowest possible power, they’ll ramp up the transmit level until an acknowledgment reply is received or the power level maxes out. This will, as you noticed, drain the battery much more quickly in weak-signal areas.

Our cordless landline phone does this also.

When my phone can’t get a digital signal, it will revert to analog mode if an analog signal is available. Analog mode drains the battery much faster than digital mode. In my experience, the battery lasts less than 24 hours on analog. As the analog infrastructure is taken out of service (this year, I believe), I expect this problem to go away. In the meantime, I’ve disabled the analog mode on my phone.

I suspected as much. I knew that it couldn’t just be my mother-in-law sucking the life out of the phones, too. :smiley:

I didn’t really say that. She’s a wonderful woman. Really. Honest.

No signal at all will also kill the battery, as it wastes a lot of power searching for a signal from the network.

and for the bonus question:
Does having the phone on while driving long distances also drain the battery faster, as it is constantly switching connections to different cell towers?

Hijack - Why did you enclose extra hard in quotation marks? It is not a colloquialism. If you were to enclose anything, I would think it would try since cell phones do not actually try, but even that seems unnecessary.

This not an attack. I am honestly interested and for all I know the enclosure was proper.

In other words you dont know the answer but still want to sound smart so you pick on his grammar? This not an attack? That does not seem like proper grammar either.

The only reason I know to enclose “extra hard” in quotes in that context would be if it was a colloquialism, but it is not one. There could be other reasons to include it in quotes. My grammar and usage are not perfect, but I am making an effort to improve and that is the reason I asked.

And you are probably right. “This is not an attack” probably is not proper grammar.

This is one reason why some of those devices designed to shield you from your phone - the ones that try to encase the phone in some way - aren’t such a great idea; the phone will ramp up the power to try to compensate for low signal strength - so your battery runs flat faster and you’re probably still exposed to the same level of electromagnetic radiation (or maybe more).

As I was typing the OP, I was also talking to someone IRL, so the OP didn’t get my full attention. I think I meant to put “try” in quotes, but since my attention was diverted, I messed it up.

Thanks for the attention, folks. I suspected that the cause of the battery’s draining faster might be due to the phone using increased power in an attempt to contact a cell tower that will never answer. Now, I imagine our poor phones yelling at the tops of their little lungs for an answer that will never come. How sad.

And no quotation marks.

She can’t help it. Some people just naturally, inherently suck. :wink: