Best smartphone battery life – for browsing the web

Phones5

Battery life is one of the main concerns among smartphone owners so we put them to the test to see which comes out on top.

No-one wants to have to charge their mobile phone more than once a day. And losing power just when you need to make a call, or look up an important bit of information, is extremely frustrating. Last time we checked the Samsung Galaxy S3 had the best battery life, but has the new iPhone 5 beaten it?

How Which? tests smartphone battery life

Which? tests how long every phone lasts when making calls and browsing the web. We even broadcast our own 3G signal to ensure the strength is consistent and realistic. Signal strength can have a serious impact on phone battery life, but using our own 3G mast means every phone is tested the exact same way.

You can read our how we test smartphones page for more information on our mobile phone reviews system, but which smartphone is the best when it comes internet battery life? Read on to find out.

Best smartphone battery life – which smartphone wins?

Best smartphone battery life when browsing the web

Click to enlarge

  • Despite having one of the largest screens, the Galaxy S3 manages to browse the web the longest – recording almost 6 hours of surfing before running out of juice. Read our Samsung Galaxy S3 reviewto find out how it did in our other tests.
  • The Xperia S also did very well, although it was still short of the Galaxy S3 by over an hour. Find out if it was worth a Which? Best Buy in the full Sony Xperia S review.
  • Over three and a half hours browsing isn’t a bad result for the One X and it comfortably beats Apple’s smartphones.  To see how it did in our other tests read our HTC One X review.
  • The iPhone 4S actually outperforms the latest version, managing to rack up 8 minutes more browsing time than the iPhone 5. Discover how the rest of its features did in our labs in the full  iPhone 4S review.
  • The new iPhone 5 managed just three hours and twenty minutes of browsing, and while this is better than the majority of phones we have tested it is a lot lower than its rivals and even the previous version of the iPhone. Read our full Apple iPhone 5 review to see how its other features did in our tests.
  • A very disappointing result for the Lumia 900, recording just three hours of browsing time putting it in the bottom half of the phones we tested. Find out if its other features make up for an average battery life in our Nokia Lumia 900 review.
  • It may be now starting to get a bit old but the Sensation XL did particularly badly in our tests, managing just over two hours of browsing before running dry. Read our HTC Sensation XL review to see how its other features did.

If you’re having problems with your phone’s battery life, try our top 5 ways to improve mobile phone battery life to see if you can do better.

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25 replies

  1. I’m very surprised with your findings and must question how you’ve conducted these test.The ‘how we test our smartphone’ doesn’t explain in any detail concerning the battery life testing portion.

    My Galaxy S3 does indeed have great battery life but 6 hours screen on time whilst browsing the web? Even on wifi and screen brightness as auto I very much doubt I’d get 6 hours screen on time with constant web browser.

  2. it also depends on the page that is loaded if it is white or dark for the amoled screen
    also the maximum brightness has different level of illumination of each device

  3. This test is BS/fraud. Two things;

    You had to set the brightness all the same. If you set the brightness to max, the phone having the lowest brightness will always win. (in this case, SG3).

    You had to use normal 3G signal from the cell tower, not yours. If you use your own 3G signal, the phone having the largest battery will always win. (in this case, SG3).

    1. That’s why Galaxy S3 won this benchmark. Don’t you understand?

      Of course samsung galaxy S3 has bigger chance to won if it has the largest battery, as you said. So what’s the problem with that? This test didn’t try to find which one is the most efficient in using the battery, but the longest active time. And samsung won. If that was achieved by using bigger battery (just if) than the rest, that’s good for customer.

      You just jealous that your phone didn’t win, right? :D

    2. BINGO. This battery life test is HIGHLY FLAWED.

      The reviewers should be smart enough to conduct an apples-to-apples battery test that sets all of the phones to a common brightness level, so consumers can make informed decisions. They should know that there is a *tradeoff* between different display sizes and technologies.

      The AMOLED display on the GSIII is large, beautiful, has incredibly high contrast and vibrant colors, but the tradeoff is that it is *less power efficient* for a given brightness level when browsing the web because most websites have white backgrounds that work against the potential power savings that AMOLED displays can bring. I can live with that compromise (I actually own the phone and greatly enjoy it). This battery life test does not put this tradeoff (lower power efficiency and lower sunlight visibility) into proper context. It is HIGHLY MISLEADING as a result. Very disappointing.

  4. Why is the screen brightness set to maximum?

    Try again with it set to “bright enough to read comfortably” and not “just burn through the battery at maximum warp”. You can have a separate measure for “battery life when lighting your home using the screen”.

    1. @tim gee. That is a useless comparison. If the goal is to find the absolute minimum battery, the download an app that will render 3d scenes. That will blow the batteries the fastest. But who would even care about that, we don’t use our phones like that daily.

      But if the goal is to find how long the batteries can last, when all the other variables are equal, then make sure the variables are equal. Set the brightness the same.

  5. Would be great if you could do the same table with all mobile handsets, there are others I had been considering but I don’t know how the battery compares. If this was done with ALL handsets (Samsung s3 mini, HTC onc X+, Sony Tipo, Samsung S2….etc etc) it would be a massive help. Why don’t all mass manufacturers do this ?

  6. Either way you look at it…. Apple are behind Samsung by long way. And iphone5 is just another hyped up version of 4s. New chip and larger screen ain’t going to cut it. And price tag is just another disappointment for what you get in comparisson to any other manufacturer out there that produce fantastic android handsets, it’s just typical for British sheep mentality to follow their mates and believe that iPhone is the best phone out there – wake up!

  7. *slap forehead* why in the world did you put them all in maximum brightness. This makes it useless as a comparison of battery life. All phones have different maximum brightness. You can’t make a COMPARISON when there isn’t a standard test. Users will use phones at comfortable brightness not maximum brightness. Set it all about 200 nits then try again, you will find the result change drastically.

  8. The galasy s III has a maximum brightness of 330 nits. The xperia s has a maximum brightness of 450 nits. The iphone 5 has maximum brightness of 560 nits.

    The only thing this useless graph seems to be meausring is not how much battery life the phones have, but how bright their screens can go.

    Set it all to the same brightness and redo the test.

  9. It needs to be a more complex test than that. First they all have auto-brightness settings so that the screen is at the correct brightness in given lighting conditions. So I’d start by testing them all on the auto setting using an identical test web page in a ‘standard’ evenly lit room. Measure the light output of each device to ensure that they are all fairly balanced and that none of them is using excessive dimming to prolong battery life. Then measure the battery life. As the battery gets low, so of them will start dimming the lighting, but does that really matter as long as they are still readable. This will give a better balanced result to the consumption and power saving tricks of each device tested. A far more important result than just quoting raw battery life at full screen brightness.

  10. I agree with Which on this 1. I barely get 4 hours browsing on 3G on iPhone 5. We can argue screen brightness all day. Get over it people. It is what it is. No need to post insulting comments to people to make your point. You only need visit apple forums to see many complaining about iPhone 5 battery life. Returning my second iphone5 (first one had poor battery too) and waiting for Motorola razr maxx hd.

  11. Instead of running a test on “auto settings” lightning as many suggest, it would be great if the phones where tested at “lowest light” setting too, that way we can compare all the ranges of battery duration at once (best case and worst case scenario) for all phones

  12. Propaganda … :-) do all of these smatphones have totaly same brightness after putting it on maximum? Did anybody measure each phone intensity of brightness in lumens? :-) so donj’t lie to people … who paid it? Google with his Android?

    1. Hi Nick,

      We test mobile phones more thoroughly than anyone else and put every product through the same set of tests so each product has to perform in the same conditions.

      However, we’re always looking to improve our tests and following feedback on this article – and the fact the difference in brightness in models has become more significant recently – we will be updating the test program to test web browsing at a consistent brightness level.

  13. Not even close to being a scientific / valid test of battery life.

    Conditions are not equal:
    Brightness level not calibrated with a light meter to identical brightness
    No guarantee the 3G signal level from the cell phone tower was the same on different day
    No mention of the test being scripted as a program. For all I know, a couple of different dudes load their own different favorite websites at what ever pace they felt like in between dinner and Pilates.

    Then, Android Authority reposts this article and advertises it as like golden truth. What a POS website, both of you.

  14. I think new LG Optimus G should be there as it includes brand new technology to keep batery life as long as posible. I’d recommend that mobile… :)

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