I would expect hourly polling to consume the least power, but I cannot find a conclusive answer on forums. This post says that push is better, but only for Hotmail accounts, which is strange since the default setting for Hotmail is every 30 minutes.

Which of the following Download new content setting is best for battery life?

  • Push (As items arrive)
  • Poll/pull/fetch (every 15, 30 or 60 minutes)

I decided to do a bit more testing on a Nokia Lumia 800 running the 12072 firmware.

I did a basic test using the Nokia battery diagnostics application.

I found that when using as items arrive the battery discharge would wildly fluctuate between 80-420 mA, with long periods of around 280 mA. Changing to check hourly the discharge was reasonably calm at around 80 mA.

In real world usage I found that as items arrive would cause cause the phone to enter battery saver mode in less than 24 hours. When using hourly I would get over 2.5 days.

Results may vary, but for me I get better battery life using polling.

Full details of the test here (disclaimer: my blog).

  • I think it depends on the amount email you receive per day. If you receive not so mutch items arrive should consume less because it doesn't has data traffic. May 31 '12 at 20:49
  • Not sure about that as I don't receive that many items per day (say around 10 emails) and I was getting poor battery life. My basic tests show that more current is used when as items arrive is turned on. Also, I have heard other people say the opposite, that as items arrive consumes less if you get a lot of email. Really need some empirical evidence on this topic.
    – row1
    Jun 1 '12 at 1:50
  • Very strange. I do not receive a lot of emails too. Your signal strenght is good in the majority of the time you use the phone? I think if data connection is not so good can compromise battery healthy. Jun 1 '12 at 10:25
  • My signal strength can be a bit spotty at times (either underground or up high), but it was good when I was doing my test.
    – row1
    Jun 1 '12 at 14:08

The Windows Phone OS has been built from the ground up to manage power in a newer, unique way. For one, like you mentioned, a push notification system. This system is designed to circumvent the old way of having to expend power by polling a server.. especially since most of the time there wasn't anything new there. However, not all services offer it at this point and you still have to pop/smtp things.

My outlook (not hotmail) is almost instantaneous, and sometimes my phone gets it before my web-based version. It is a push based email. Win-Win

So "Push" is your best option, if is an option. Otherwise, you'll still need to poll a pop3/smtp server.

  • I have been using Hotmail with push and the battery last more than when I used 15 minutes pooling. I recomend. May 17 '12 at 12:22
  • While I can appreciate what you are saying, it is still conjecture and doesn't disprove the people saying that push uses more juice.
    – row1
    May 17 '12 at 12:44
  • 2
    You can look at it this way. your phone already has a push notification connection. When developers (including email apps) register for a channel, it uses this connection. Whether you choose to use it or not. When hotmail offers push capability, it is using the same system already in operation. A push notification gets sent through that channel. It s a small data packet that tells the email program to then go fetch the email. When you are polling, your phone is constantly checking the server for any changes, in addition to your push channel already operating. May 18 '12 at 11:30
  • Although this doesnt give you a direct answer, it explains a little on why it uses less energy to wait for a push notification before polling the mail server for the email en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… May 18 '12 at 11:44
  • 1
    Add me to the list of those that switched to polling after seeing it yielded longer battery life. While "push" may consume less power than polling on Windows Phone, for small enough intervals, you can't choose an interval less than 15 minutes on Windows Phone, which I don't believe reaches that threshold. I increased my battery life about 50% when switching all applicable accounts to polling, on my Lumia 900. May 29 '12 at 21:24

It has mostly to do with how Mobile Networks work. Each connection results in the cellular radio being on for 10-15 seconds after the transaction. If you get over 12 e-mails an hour - polling every 5 minutes is more efficient than push. However, if you only get 1-2 e-mails an hour, push is more efficient. I blogged on this (with some math to corroborate). http://networkingexchangeblog.att.com/enterprise-business/push-or-poll-how-email-setup-can-save-your-battery-life/

My phone is set to push on evenings and weekends (low volume) and poll during the workday (high volume)


Pull uses less battery power as it checks for new email messages at a (specified) regular interval.

Using "push" email however allows message to arrive on you device virtually instantly. In order for this to work, your phone needs to keep some form of constantly network connection online

  • Do you have any stats or usage data to back this up? Feb 27 '13 at 13:29

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