Last Updated on
April 25, 2024

Do Push Notifications Really Drain the Battery?

Published in
Key takeaways:

It is a common belief that push notifications drain a mobile device’s battery. Is it true? 

Short answer: not really, the effect is vastly exaggerated. 

Long answer: they can, and it depends. In this article we’ll explain in detail, along with ways that mobile users can preserve their batteries and how developers can send notifications from their apps that cause minimal battery hits. 

Let’s get into it. 

Push Notifications’ Impact on Battery Life

In today’s world mobile battery life has become a precious commodity, with many people experiencing “low battery anxiety”. 

Users often look for ways to optimize their device's battery, and one commonly cited culprit for rapid battery drain is push notifications. But is there any truth to this claim? 

What are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are short messages sent by apps or websites to inform users of updates, reminders, or new content. They can pop up even if the app is not actively running, ensuring that users don't miss out on important alerts.

Push notifications can be sent from websites or native apps, on iOS or Android devices.

The Battery Impact of Push Notifications

The bottom line is this. 

Modern push notifications, by design, have a minimal impact on battery life. They operate on efficient connection protocols that maintain a relatively “light” link to the server. 

The app or device does not continuously poll and check for new messages, which could indeed use up a lot of battery. Rather, the server “pushes” (hence the name) a message out which is then picked up by the device.  

This event-driven model, combined with modern power-saving techniques implemented by mobile operating systems, means that the battery consumption of push notifications remains negligible for the average user.

That’s not to say there’s no impact though. Excessive and poorly executed notifications can indeed use up unnecessary power. Here are a few situations where push notifications can cause battery problems:

  • High volume: if an app sends an excessive number of push notifications in a short time, it can cause frequent wake-ups of the device, leading to battery drain.
  • Background Processes: some push notifications can trigger background processes. For instance, a weather app might send a notification about an upcoming storm and then update its data in the background. This continuous activity can consume more power.
  • Rich Media: notifications with rich media content (like images or videos) or those that trigger sound or vibration can use more battery than simple text alerts.
  • Connection Type: push services typically rely on efficient connection protocols. For example, Google's Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) uses a connection server to send messages, optimizing battery usage. However, if an app isn't properly optimized or if there are network issues, maintaining this connection can impact battery life.

A Practical Perspective on Push Notifications and Battery Life

For the average user receiving a typical number of notifications, the battery drain attributed directly to push notifications is minimal. 

The real concern arises when apps are poorly optimized or abusive in their frequency of notifications.

Here are some tips for users on managing notifications and battery life:

  • Manage Notification Settings: most smartphones allow users to manage notification settings. If a particular app is sending too many unnecessary notifications, consider turning them off or adjusting their frequency.
  • Update Apps: developers often release updates to optimize app performance and battery usage. Ensure your apps are updated regularly.
  • Monitor Battery Usage: use your device's built-in battery monitoring tools to see which apps are consuming the most power. If an app is draining your battery disproportionately, it might be worth investigating further.

That’s what you can do as a user, now let’s look at how business owners, developers and brands can optimize their push notifications to be gentle on user batteries. 

How Developers and Businesses can Respect Users Batteries

Respecting your users’ batteries is simply good UX. Here are some best practices for developers to ensure that their web or native app notifications aren’t excessively draining. 

  • Limit the Frequency: avoid sending excessive notifications in a short period. Bombarding users with alerts not only annoys them but can also drain the battery due to frequent wake-ups. Use analytics to understand user behavior and tailor the frequency accordingly.
  • Optimize Background Processes: ensure that notifications aren't triggering extensive background activities. For example, if a notification is meant to inform the user about new content, avoid pre-fetching excessive amounts of data unless necessary. 
  • Lightweight Payloads: when sending data with your notifications, keep it concise. Instead of sending large images or data directly in the notification, consider sending a reference or URL that the app can fetch when necessary.
  • Batch Notifications: if possible, batch multiple notifications into a single payload. This approach reduces the number of times the device needs to wake up, conserving battery life.
  • Avoid Continuous Connections: For web apps, avoid keeping a continuous connection to your server for notifications. Utilize service workers efficiently, and rely on push services that use battery-efficient protocols.

It is also important to regularly and thoroughly test your apps - including their battery consumption. This is especially important after you make changes or updates in the notification system. Tools like Android’s Battery Historian or iOS’s xCode Organizer can be a good starting point to investigate. 

It might also make sense to educate users, giving recommendations for optimizing notifications in your FAQs or support docs. 

Finally, you should make sure that you give users plenty of options for exactly which notifications they want to receive and how.

We made sure that MobiLoud apps have everything out of the box to give users a great push notification UX. All apps have push preferences, allowing users to choose which notifications to receive. Your apps will also come with a message center for users to save and revisit your notifications and messages later on. 

We also integrate with the best push provider on the market, OneSignal, to give you unlimited notifications. Their infrastructure is as optimized and efficient as you can get!

Overall - don’t buy into the more sensationalist claims about push notifications and battery life. So long as you follow the simple tips in this article, you can be confident that it’s pretty much a non-issue.

Get a working preview of your app prepared by our team. Your MobiLoud app integrates with your entire tech stack, works with all custom features, and automatically syncs with everything on your site in real time.
Native, web or hybrid app?
Understand the key differences to make the right choice for your business.
By submitting, you agree to receive emails from MobiLoud. Unsubscribe anytime.
Thanks for your interest! Click the button below to download our free resource.
Get a free app preview
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Convert your website into a mobile app

Get custom mobile apps for iOS and Android that update automatically with your site and work with your entire tech stack.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Or Book Free Consultation
Rainbow Shops logo.Bestseller's logo.John Varvatos logo.
Only & Sons iOS app.

Read more posts like this.

Thank you! We'll be in touch within 48 hours :)
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.