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Rumor: An iPhone Uses More Power Than A Refrigerator

Publication Date: 
September 19, 2013
MSN News
Curtis Cartier

Claims that smartphones use more power than refrigerator are debunked by Stanford Law Fellow Jonathan Koomey in an article by MSN News. 

A new study claims that the smartphone in your pocket uses more energy than the refrigerator in your kitchen. The report, which was funded by a pair of coal industry lobbying groups, suggests that a tremendous amount of energy will be needed to keep powering the world's digital devices and that coal will provide the solution. But while the paper is making waves in the technology and energy world, its conclusions are being attacked by some researchers who call it "baloney" and "ridiculous."

The study is called "The Cloud Begins With Coal: Big Data, Big Networks, Big Infrastructure, and Big Power" and it's written by Mark P. Mills, the CEO of Digital Power Group, a tech-industry advisement firm.


Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University, told MSN News that he "spent years debunking" Mills' claims and published a paper in 2000 that directly contradicted his findings. Koomey said he was shocked to see Mills "rehashing" his ideas now.

"If he is making this claim again, that would be just crazy, outrageous," Koomey said. "What we found in 2000 is that a refrigerator used 2,000 times more electricity than the networking electricity of a wireless Palm Pilot. He is not a credible source of information."

Gernot Heiser, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and co-author of a 2010 study on power consumption in smartphones, echoed Koomey's sentiments that Mills' work was flawed.