Low power cellular IoT

Enabling a world of everything connected

Optimized for low power


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".

Optimizing your power consumption

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:


Here you can see Power Profiler Kit II in action measuring the nRF9160 running an UDP sample:

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Cellular is complex

nRF9160 makes it easy

The nRF9160 is optimized in every scenario, not just PSM floor currents.

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: nrf9160 vs module x

*Calculations with comparable external MCU for Module X with sleep current at 14µA (with RAM retention).

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 hour to send some data. Even if Module X has a PSM floor current of almost 1µA below nRF9160, it will never be as power-efficient as nRF9160 for the PSM cycles. Furthermore if turning OFF the nRF9160 modem in between sending data the nRF9160 is the most power-efficient in these long sleep cycles (over 60hours). 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 seldom 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

Optimize current consumption

Estimate and measure current consumption

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Online Power Profiler

The Online Power Profiler is an easy-to-use tool for estimating current consumption for your cellular IoT application. It is a great starting point to optimize your application's current consumption.

Go to the Online Power Profiler
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Power Profiler Kit II

The Power Profiler Kit II is an easy-to-use tool for measuring and optimizing power consumption for embedded solutions.

Read more
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Power Optimization guide

The Power Optimization guide will give you a detailed overview and steps to follow on how to power optimize your application.

Go to the Power Optimization guide