Ultra-low power is a vital parameter for great cellular IoT products. We have developed our nRF9160 Series with this in focus, by using our knowledge and extensive expertise in making award-winning ultra-low power devices. The introduction of the nRF9160 System in Package revision 2 achieves even lower power consumption than its predecessor, improving power consumption performance by 33% in key parameters.
Since cellular devices are highly dependent on network parameters when it comes to saving power, the nRF9160 optimized for power across all conditions, thanks to the ever-improving modem firmware.
All this leads to a device that goes beyond long battery life. With nRF9160 it is now possible to make small products that rely solely on energy harvesting. Simply "deploy and forget".
Simple first steps
We recommend you investigate how much power your cellular device will use in different cellular networks and different areas. This is why we at Nordic have made the first Online Power Profiler tool for LTE so you can do quick evaluations and estimates of your cellular device in different scenarios based on the requirements of your application.
After estimations, you must measure the current consumption on your cellular device. We at Nordic have made the Power Profiler Kit II which makes it easy to do quick and accurate measurements of your nRF devices. We also provide an extensive Power optimization guide on how to improve your power consumption and tutorials on how to do the current measurements.
Here you can see the Online Power Profiler in action:
nRF9160 makes it easy
Never trust and rely on a few specification points when comparing cellular solutions. Comparing Power Saving Mode (PSM) floor currents leads to wrong conclusions when you consider the total average current consumption of your device. Device "wake up current" has a much larger role in the total average current consumption calculation compared to PSM floor current.
Let's compare nRF9160 SiP with 2.7µA PSM floor current vs. Module X with 1.8µA PSM floor current:
This graph compares the average current of Module X PSM, nRF9160 PSM, and nRF9160 turning OFF the modem (instead of going into PSM) and waking up every n hour to send some data. Even if Module X has a PSM floor current of almost 1µA below nRF9160, it won't be as power-efficient until using 200-hours (8 days) PSM cycles. Furthermore if turning OFF the nRF9160 modem in between sending data the nRF9160 is clearly the most power-efficient in these long sleep cycles. This is because the nRF9160 is built from the ground up to be ultra-low power in mind. In addition, we constantly improve with new firmware updates.
Since most networks require the device to connect in a specific interval to do a Tracking Area Update (TAU) while in PSM (e.g. TAU each 3rd hour), a device would never reach days of PSM sleep anyway. The network is in control and the nRF9160 is the only device that is made with that in mind.
How to Power Profile your cellular IoT application