Apple’s iOS 4.2 Improves Battery Performance and Eases Network Congestion

AT&T might be breathing a sigh of relief—Apple’s new iOS 4.2 update (technically 4.2.1) actually improves battery performance and reduces the work load on carriers’ cellular networks. The technology implemented in iOS now is called “Network Controlled Fast Dormancy” which is cell phone talk for a system that keeps the phone’s cellular radio in a half-awake state. Jumping in and out of this mode uses less juice than fully activating the radio each time or leaving it on all the time. It also cuts down on the amount of talking your iPhone needs to do with AT&T’s network (or whatever network you are on) each time you use it. It’s really a win-win situation for Apple, carriers and users.

Interestingly, the first place that pointed out the inclusion of the technology was Nokia Siemens Networks on its blog. (Nokia Siemens Networks is a joint venture between Nokia and Siemens.) Nokia has already implemented this NCFD technology into its entire smartphone lineup and the blog post notes that with the addition of the iPhone, now half of smartphones sold worldwide are compatible.

While wireless networks need to support the technology as well for it to work—no word on which networks support the technology or when they will—Nokia has noted that its test show that compatible smartphones and networks nearly double the hours of battery life available to smartphones. Nokia’s testing in North America revealed that its technology can reduce smartphone signaling by up to 50%. That’s more bandwidth all of us could use and carriers are sure to want to be able to reclaim.

I don’t know how long it will take until NCFD is supported on all the major networks in the country but if Apple’s iPhone has already been made compatible through a software update, don’t expect to wait too long. This could be just the savior that AT&T needs to keep its 3G network alive until its 4G LTE network can start absorbing more of the data load. Just imagine smartphones that get a solid lock on a 3G or 4G data connecting in less time while using less power and bandwidth. That’s the future right there.

Excited for the new technology to start making mobile internet faster and less of a drain on your battery? Let me know in the comments. It’s funny how Apple and Nokia are the first two on the boat here.

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