How to Fix Your AT&T Samsung S9+ Battery Drain
AT&T’s use of 5G designed to mislead customers.
This post was originally published on May 29th, 2019.
Earlier this year, the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S9+ received its first major software overhaul. Android Pie was released at the end of January. The behind-the-scenes improvement to battery life was amazing! I easily doubled the amount of time I could use my phone in a single day. The phone rarely got warm while sitting in my pocket. Everything seemed great.
Unfortunately, the good deal didn’t last. In March, my phone downloaded the dreaded AT&T “5G E” update. This was AT&T’s rebranding of 4G LTE to further market their product without actually delivering anything meaningful to consumers. Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint wasted no time decrying the move as a publicity stunt. Sprint went so far as to sue AT&T in court.
During the past (nearly) 3 months, I have noticed no improvements to my data speed. Zero. Zilch. None. What I did notice, however, was that my precious battery life that had been drastically improved with the Android Pie update, was now diminished to the point where I could barely make it through a shift at work without needing a recharge.
I tried everything, short of resetting my phone back to factory defaults, to resolve my battery drain problem. I updated all my apps (the Hail Mary of smart phone frustration). I wiped my cache partition. I performed software updates as they rolled out. I forced stopped apps. None of the normal battery drain remediation techniques seemed to work.
AT&T Doesn’t Understand Their Customers
First of all, I have beef with AT&T. I have been a customer for about 3 years now. I was happy with them, until last month when they decided to get rid of my data plan, replace it with a more expensive plan, and then not tell me they were doing it. They also decided to merge my internet and wireless bills, resulting in a month and a half of bills to the tune of $350 (also without my consent). Crazy!
However, it was the 5G E fiasco that really did it. Not the fact that 5G E has no noticeable real-world speed advantages over 4G LTE. Or the fact that AT&T is deliberately deceiving their own customers. It was the fact that I couldn’t turn off the 5G E option in my phone’s software causing it to drain my battery unnecessarily.
AT&T wants you to use their network according to them, not the way you need to use it. They want to sell you their video services, so you can watch TV on a 5.5″ phone screen instead of a 60″ 4K TV screen. They want you to use fake 5G whether you want it or not. They want to sell you more data than you want, for a price you don’t want to pay. They want to make it a point to prove they are running the show, not their customers.
After 5 phone calls to AT&T to get them to undo everything I didn’t want, and having to hear them explain why I was wrong on 5 separate occasions, I naturally called it quits. My wife and I walked into T-Mobile and switched wireless service. We had tried T-Mobile years ago, right before we switched to AT&T, actually. We couldn’t deal with the lack of coverage at the time. I also traveled extensively back then, and relied much more on my phone’s data for turn-by-turn directions. I needed good coverage back then.
Honestly, I haven’t had my service with T-Mobile long enough to say how good they are. The coverage does seem a little better than 3 years ago. I get service at my house and at work. I don’t really travel that much anymore. I do like a lot of the perks. I do like the international data usage (we’re taking a vacation to Ireland this fall so this will be handy!). I do like the $90 out-the-door price (this actually cut my bill in half from what AT&T wanted me to pay). I do like the unlimited data vs. the shared 15 GB plan I had to beg AT&T to put me back on. I do like the T-Mobile Tuesdays, which sometimes include free Redbox rentals. I do like love the customer service experience that T-Mobile offers.
But the biggest part of ditching AT&T Wireless…within hours of the T-Mobile customer service rep swapping out SIM cards in my phone, I noticed an improvement in my battery life. I didn’t even have to test it. I could actually tell I was getting better battery life. The next day I was able to get through a whole day at home without recharging my phone (the 5G E battery drain even affected my phone at home on WiFi). Today I went an entire 9 hour shift at work, including using my screen non-stop for about 2 hours. I still went home with 50% battery! I had been leaving work in power saving mode (<15%) for the past 2.5 months. I’m thrilled!
I can no longer recommend AT&T Wireless from a customer service point of view. My experience was so bad that I won’t ever be a customer again. Their customer service is now officially- drum roll please!- Comcast bad. But the fact that the company put out such a poor 5G E update that actually limits their customers being able to use their own phones…that’s just inexcusable. Obviously, not everyone will be able to dump their carrier on a whim.
However, if you have the stodgy financial stubbornness that I do, and don’t mind having a network that isn’t “the most reliable network”, then sure, I would recommend looking around and choosing a carrier that works best for you. Even if you can’t or don’t want to switch, call AT&T and complain about being forced into crap services you never asked for. After all, you are paying for it.
Although this happened to me on a Samsung S9+, this can’t be the only device experiencing battery drain from AT&T’s 5G E update.
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