Audio Coding Format Effect On Battery Life

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Masterjuggler

Senior Member
Dec 3, 2013
246
228
New Jersey
The topic came up a little while ago about how different audio coding formats and qualities would affect battery life. It got me curious enough to actually perform a controlled test. I don't know enough about it to actually make predictions, but we are basically looking at battery drain for the processing power required for lossy audio coding formats vs the higher I/O of lossless.

My setup is an old Sprint Galaxy S4 running CM13. The older phone has a much shorter battery life than the Axon 7, so it it easier to get results. I originally tried with my Axon 7, but I had to hold myself back from checking messages and I started getting phantom vibrations when it wasn't in my pocket. Honestly, it was a little disconcerting.

I thought about starting at a certain battery percentage for each test and comparing how much it drained over a period of time, but decided it would be easier and more accurate to simply compare battery drain in %/hour, as reported by 3C Battery Monitor.

Also of note is the audio I'm testing. I have a set of seven Depeche Mode songs (Don't go there. Just.... Don't...) in 44.1kHz FLAC (188.4MB), which I then converted to MP3 in 64Kbps (13.7MB), 128Kbps (27.4MB), 320Kbps (68.6MB), and 128Kbps OGG (25.8MB) for funsies. The total playlist time is 29min 59sec.

I tried to isolate battery drain from playing different encodings as much as possible. As such, everything was played at one volume step above mute with earbuds, airplane mode on, and the screen kept off. I let each test run on loop for two hours to let things stabilize and remove the initial screen on drain due to switching audio sets.

Here are my findings:

Control (no playback) - 0.0%/hour
FLAC - 2.5%/hour
64Kbps MP3 - 2.6%/hour
128Kbps MP3 - 2.6%/hour
320Kbps MP3 - 2.6%/hour
128Kbps OGG - 2.6%/hour

So obviously, the difference in battery drain is really pretty negligible. So negligible, in fact, that my phone couldn't measure a difference between any of the lossy encodes. The only thing to note really, is the FLAC format had 0.1% less drain than the others. Big whoop.

Also, I need to go camping more often....
 
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FadeFx

Senior Member
Mar 22, 2010
8,838
3,034
Vienna
Well, too bad that airplane mode off bumps that to 10 ish%, so ya, def not a big deal
Thats not true, actually that is like double the value i got with my int. S3 with screen off but mobile data on.

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---------- Post added at 07:27 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:23 AM ----------

Btw, phantom vibrations is what i used to call "paranoide vibracallose" in german, or PVD (paranoid vibracall desease) in english...

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Masterjuggler

Senior Member
Dec 3, 2013
246
228
New Jersey
Actually with airplane mode off, I still get 0.9%/hour idle drain. It's all about figuring out what's causing wakelocks, stopping the services you don't need, and using greenify to keep unnecessary processes from running. It also helps that the rom I was using (CM13) didn't have any issues with the system eating up battery. Still not as good as the 0.2-0.4%/hour idle drain on my axon 7, but it was damn good at the time.
 

Erahgon

Senior Member
Apr 27, 2011
844
460
31
Los Angeles
Good test! Efficient music apps should keep the battery drain in check. I guess you can credit the 0.1% per hour jump in drain to the processor being utilized to decode and decompress the format, and apply dithering.

BTW, there are 6 other Depeche Mode songs?! Woah... :p
 

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    The topic came up a little while ago about how different audio coding formats and qualities would affect battery life. It got me curious enough to actually perform a controlled test. I don't know enough about it to actually make predictions, but we are basically looking at battery drain for the processing power required for lossy audio coding formats vs the higher I/O of lossless.

    My setup is an old Sprint Galaxy S4 running CM13. The older phone has a much shorter battery life than the Axon 7, so it it easier to get results. I originally tried with my Axon 7, but I had to hold myself back from checking messages and I started getting phantom vibrations when it wasn't in my pocket. Honestly, it was a little disconcerting.

    I thought about starting at a certain battery percentage for each test and comparing how much it drained over a period of time, but decided it would be easier and more accurate to simply compare battery drain in %/hour, as reported by 3C Battery Monitor.

    Also of note is the audio I'm testing. I have a set of seven Depeche Mode songs (Don't go there. Just.... Don't...) in 44.1kHz FLAC (188.4MB), which I then converted to MP3 in 64Kbps (13.7MB), 128Kbps (27.4MB), 320Kbps (68.6MB), and 128Kbps OGG (25.8MB) for funsies. The total playlist time is 29min 59sec.

    I tried to isolate battery drain from playing different encodings as much as possible. As such, everything was played at one volume step above mute with earbuds, airplane mode on, and the screen kept off. I let each test run on loop for two hours to let things stabilize and remove the initial screen on drain due to switching audio sets.

    Here are my findings:

    Control (no playback) - 0.0%/hour
    FLAC - 2.5%/hour
    64Kbps MP3 - 2.6%/hour
    128Kbps MP3 - 2.6%/hour
    320Kbps MP3 - 2.6%/hour
    128Kbps OGG - 2.6%/hour

    So obviously, the difference in battery drain is really pretty negligible. So negligible, in fact, that my phone couldn't measure a difference between any of the lossy encodes. The only thing to note really, is the FLAC format had 0.1% less drain than the others. Big whoop.

    Also, I need to go camping more often....
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