GPS Tracking

Does Having Location Services On Drain Battery?

Samson Kiarie
Last update on:
May 30, 2024 4:15 AM
Published on:

Field employees are often concerned about battery drain when using GPS tracking apps for the first time. They worry that keeping their location on all the time depletes the phone’s battery life. 

This concern isn't entirely unfounded. GPS tracking apps require employees to turn off the phone’s battery-saving mode. Naturally, this raises a concern that the app saps power faster than other apps, which isn’t the case. In reality, the power consumption rate of GPS apps is less than that of battery hogs such as Facebook and Snapchat.

But, does having location services on really drain your phone’s battery? 

In this guide, we’ll dissect phone location tracking technology to debunk the myths and misconceptions about battery drain. We’ll shed light on how GPS apps consume power and show you how to get employees on board when implementing GPS tracking technology.   

Choose Your GPS Tracking Software Wisely

Talk to our experts to find the best solution for your business.

Schedule a Consultation

Does Having Your Location On Drain Your Battery?

The short answer is, it depends. Leaving your phone’s location services turned on drains battery power, like many other features. However, a combination of multiple factors causes the battery to drain fast. Some of the factors that can increase the rate of battery usage include:

  • Older phone operating system (OS)
  • Weak satellite, cellular, or Wi-Fi signals 
  • Too many apps relying on the phone’s GPS

When you enabled location on an Android or iOS phone a decade ago, it ran actively all the time. Apps that relied on the phone’s location services sent an unending stream of location data requests, causing the phone to take too long to go into sleep mode.  As a result, the GPS chip drew extra power to remain active, draining the phone’s battery life.

 timeero tracker checklist
Timeero requires employees to turn on GPS, turn off battery optimization, and set location tracking to high accuracy. 

The technological advancement of mobile OS has drastically reduced the impact of location services on battery life. These days, when you enable location services, it doesn’t mean they are running actively all the time. It only means that location services will be available to process a request for data from GPS-based apps, such as Google Maps or Find My Phone. 

To confirm whether this is the case, turn on location services on your device. If your mobile phone runs on the latest OS version, the location icon won’t be permanently displayed on the status bar. This is a sign that the phone’s GPS isn’t always active. 

Each location data request takes 12-30 seconds to process. If you have too many GPS-based apps on your device, it means they are constantly requesting location data. The phone’s GPS will require additional power to feed these apps with data, which impacts your device’s battery life. 

How Much Battery Does Location Services Use?

There’s no simple answer to this question because multiple factors impact battery life. When location services are turned on, the phone uses a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks to determine the device's precise location. 

If you’re in a city or urban environment where the density of Wi-Fi access points is high, your phone may resort to using Wi-Fi for georeferencing. Wi-Fi allows for greater precision and consumes less power than other technologies. Users in towns and cities may report less battery drain than their counterparts in remote areas. 

Outside of urban settings, the phone may use cellular and GPS georeferencing. The rate at which these two methods consume battery power depends mainly on signal strength. The stronger the signal, the easier the phone receiver makes a connection and determines the device's location.

The opposite is true. If the signal is weak, such as when tall buildings or hills obscure cell towers, the phone’s receiver has to work harder to make a connection. The process is prolonged, so the phone will need additional power to determine the location. 

One study found that location services depletes 13% of the phone’s battery when the signal is strong. However, when the signal is weak, the phone’s GPS and cellular location tracking can consume up to 38% of the mobile battery.

How Do GPS-Based Apps Affect Phone Batteries?

GPS tracking apps depend on the location services of the devices they are installed on for location data. The rate at which these apps deplete the phone's battery depends on how many you have installed and how often they request location data. The apps require location data to conduct the following activities: 

1. Determine Employee Location

GPS tracking apps use GPS to determine the device’s accurate location. The employee phones act as the receiver. It intercepts signals from three satellites and uses a process called triangulation to determine location precisely.

Triangulation takes about 12-30 seconds, depending on the strength of the satellite signals. The stronger the signal the faster the triangulation and the less the impact on battery life. And vice versa if the signal is weak.

2. Keep Employee Location Up-To-Date

The GPS app needs to refresh the location periodically to track an employee's location in real-time. The interval at which the GPS tracking app updates the location impacts the device’s battery life. 

The shorter the interval, the more times the phone has to triangulate and the more likely it is to drain the battery. However, factors such as signal strength will determine how fast or slow the triangulation depletes the battery. 

How Do GPS Tracking Apps Help Businesses? 

GPS tracking apps like Timeero are indispensable for businesses with field employees. Workers may try to resist the technology initially due to the battery drain issue, but you'll reap numerous benefits once you overcome the resistance. Below are the key benefits of using Timeero to track time, location, and mileage.

Minimal Upfront Investment

Timeero works flawlessly on Android and Apple smartphones. Showing your  employees that Timeero is easy on battery life, will greatly increase the likelihood that they install the app on their smartphones. This will save you a chunk of money you’d have invested in company-owned devices.

Real-Time Location Tracking

timeero who’s working tab
Timeero helps track the real-time location of each employee. 

If you need to track the location of field employees in real-time, Timeero can help. The app updates the location of clocked-in employees every few minutes. When you open the “who’s working” dashboard, you can see the precise location of employees and spot those wandering outside their designated job sites. 

You can also see where delivery drivers and sales representatives are and where they are headed. Field service team managers can also track the location of crew members to streamline job scheduling and dispatching. Additionally, Real-time location tracking enhances the security of your employees while in the field. 

Unique Segmented Tracking Feature

 timeero segmented tracking 
Timeero’s Segmented Tracking helps compute the time an employee spends at each location.

If you’re struggling to determine how long sales representatives, field technicians, and delivery drivers spend at each address, Timeero’s Segmented Tracking can help. With this tool, employees clock in once at the start of their shift. 

Segmented Tracking uses GPS technology to track and segment employees' trips based on the stops made. When you open the segmented tracking report, you’ll see when they arrived and left each location and the time they spent on the road. 

Efficient and Accurate Time Tracking 

Timeero records employee work hours automatically, eliminating the administrative burden of tracking down manual time cards. It also uses geofencing to eliminate time theft and ensure employees charge you for work they actually did. 

Geofencing also helps prompt employees to clock in when they arrive at a designated job site. It overcomes forgetfulness to improve the accuracy of employee time cards. The app also notifies employees when an upcoming shift nears. This eliminates no-shows, thus improving the team’s productivity.  

timeero notifications
Timeero notifies employees when they arrive or leave a designated job site. 

Timeero also relieves the manager of the burden of manually computing employee pay. The app is configured to calculate an employee’s total pay based on their rates, regular hours, and overtime. The manager only needs to generate pay reports and forward them to the accounting department for fast and accurate compensation. 

Accurate Mileage Tracking

Timeero records accurate and IRS-compliant mileage logs. Using GPS and motion-detection technology, the app tracks mileage when the vehicle's speed exceeds a predefined threshold. 

Employees don’t need to lift a finger to track mileage; they only have to clock in and drive. The app ensures each employee is compensated fairly for travel expenses, which can significantly boost their morale. Your business can claim deserved tax write-offs with accurate, IRS-compliant logs. 

Tips To Overcome Employee Pushback and Get Their Buy-In

Employees will not see GPS trackers through the lenses of the benefits mentioned above. Many evaluate new technology based on how it impacts their privacy and the device’s battery life. Here are helpful tips to alleviate employees’ concerns to avert potential employee pushbacks

Inform Employees About The App’s Battery Consumption

Reach out to the software vendor and inquire about the impact of the GPS tracking app on battery life. The vendor should provide credible information about how the GPS technology works and measures they have implemented to reduce battery drain.

But don’t take the vendor’s word for it. Ask a few members of the management team to experiment with the app and compile your findings about its potential battery drain.  

Compare the results of the app’s battery drain to those of similar apps and battery hogs like Facebook and Snapchat. Before rolling out the app to the entire team, share your findings to assure employees that the new GPS tracking app doesn’t affect battery life. 

Dissect The GPS App’s Security and Privacy

If you’re introducing a GPS tracking app, pushbacks from battery drain could be signs of a serious underlying issue. In an era where employees are conscious about their privacy, they could clutch at any straw to resist location tracking. 

Don’t leave anything to chance. Explain how the GPS tracking app safeguards employee privacy. Shed light on how and when the app tracks employee location — the best GPS tracking apps, like Timeero, track employees during work hours only. 

Other things to touch on include the app’s technical security features, such as encryption and multi-factor authentication. Being transparent about the security and privacy safeguards may give employees the assurance they need to accept the app. 

Show How The App Works; Don’t Tell

Naturally, employees who haven't used GPS at work have a negative opinion about this technology. One of the best ways to shift their perception is to show them the GPS app in action.  

Give employees step-by-step walkthroughs of every facet of the GPS app. Demonstrate how the app tracks time, location, and mileage. Give employees a tour of the administrator’s dashboard so they know what their managers see or monitor. 

During the demonstration, let employees ask questions and raise concerns about the technology. Address all issues to the employee's satisfaction to clear any lingering doubt. 

Allow Employees to be Part of The Exercise

During the live walkthroughs, ask employees to volunteer to take part in the exercise. Ask the volunteers to clock in and familiarize themselves with different app features. This will help alleviate their technophobia, which could be driving them to resist the new technology. 

To test the battery drain, you could have two test groups. Let the first group enable location services, clock into the GPS app, and shut down social media apps during the demo. The second can turn location on, clock into the GPS app, and use social media, as they would, during break time. 

At the end of the demo, compare the battery drain levels for both groups. Point out how social media apps drain the battery faster than the GPS tracking app. This could help change the employees’ perception about the battery drain of GPS tracking.  

Explain Other Causes of Battery Drain

Let the employees understand that enabling location services isn’t the only cause of battery drain. If their phones are dying fast, it could be a result of: 

  • Too many alerts and notifications
  • Screen brightness
  • Too many background apps
  • Outdated operating system
  • Phone taking too long to go into sleep mode
  • Old phone battery
  • Extreme temperature fluctuations affecting the phone and battery

Choose an Advanced GPS Tracking Software

GPS tracking apps aren’t created equal. Older apps aren’t designed with battery preservation in mind. They ping location services more frequently and spend time determining and refreshing an employee’s location, consuming a lot of battery power. 

If you want an app that preserves the phone’s battery life, try a well-maintained and frequently updated GPS app like Timeero. Timeero uses modern technologies to determine an employee's location quickly. It also spends as little time as possible fetching location updates to streamline real-time employee tracking and save battery life. 

Start a 14-day free trial to get a first-hand feel for Timeero’s GPS tracking capability. No credit card is required — create your account and get started immediately. You can also book a free consultation to learn in-depth details about Timeero’s battery-saving measures. 

Does Having Location On Drain Battery: FAQs

Does Location Tracking Drain Battery Life in iPhones?

Location tracking isn’t solely responsible for battery drain in iPhone and iPad devices. It’s a combination of factors such as signal strength and the version of the device’s OS that contribute to fast battery usage. 

How Much Does Enabling Location Services Affect Battery Life on Android Devices?

There’s no direct answer to how enabling location services affects power consumption on an Android phone. A combination of factors, such as an old OS, weak satellite signal strength, and too many background apps, can lead to battery drain. 

Optimize data and battery usage while tracking GPS data

Timeero app runs in the background and can work offline
Start 14-Day Free Trial
Samson Kiarie

Samson is a mathematician turned content marketer specializing in SaaS and Tech content. He focuses on the practical aspects of software systems while keeping abreast of the industry’s cutting-edge principles to create informative and engaging content. When he’s not writing, Samson spends time playing or watching soccer.

Related Articles

Don't fall behind.

Subscribe to our newsletter.
Get the latest tips on mobile workforce management sent straight to your inbox!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.