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That's a pretty legit question, mrdoh. We don't have any "official" tests that I can reference. However, I can share my personal experience with you. I have an iPhone 7 Plus and live in a heavily congested service area. If I don't use WiFi for calls or texts then good luck getting a hold of me. I just checked my battery life over the past 24 hours as well as the past 7 hours and I would say the battery usage is minimal. One thing I'd like to point out is that I have my phone setup to primarily utilize WiFi and only search for cell service when WiFi isn't available.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Thanks very much. I appreciate your taking the time to respond. I got similar answers on "AndroidCentral" from T-Mobile users, so it sounds promising. I'm leaning towards T-Mobile at this point, and am currently testing how I would do using purely T-Mobile in this area before changing. If things come out well, I'll be going that way.
You may be interested...I'm currently on Project Fi. I put a "data-only" SIM in my iPhone (I have an iPhone and a Pixel phone), which puts me solely on T-Mobile for that phone. Since I have such low T-Mobile coverage at my home, that forces the phone to wifi only at home, and then it uses T-Mobile cell data when I'm mobile. And I'm using this configuration to check out T-Mobile around here. It's looking good so far...while there's virtually no T-Mobile coverage at my home, there's good coverage in the area. So the setting that you mentioned, that will use wifi if it's available, is exactly what I'm looking for.