Case 1: I use the mobile WiFi for Internet usage (assuming normal usage - majority of the time, phone being idle with intermittent Internet usage).

Case 2: I keep WiFi off, and use the mobile's data connection for Internet. Assume that the usage in the two cases is identical.

Which of the above will cause more battery drainage? (ignore calls during these phases)

  • Impossible to predict with any accuracy. Depends on a lot of factors, most importantly on distance from cell tower or wifi router (see this recent article on All About Windows Phone).
    – Indrek
    Apr 24 '14 at 19:32

Following Perrucci, Fitzek and Widmer (2011) WLAN is more power efficient than 3G. A publicly accessible excerpt of their results can be found on their website. Note that in their study, the access point was placed fairly close to the cell phone.

The same conclusion has been made by Carroll and Heiser in their 2010 USENIX conference contribution, measured using an Android cell phone (presentation, paper).

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