Mobile phones used to last for days between charges. But the advent of smartphones, with their bright screens and thirst for battery draining mobile data, means many phones struggle to last a whole day without a trip to the wall socket. This, despite the fact many people insist battery life is one of the most important features of a good phone.
Indeed, a J.D Power survey last year said ‘satisfaction with smartphones is greatly impacted by battery performance’ and that ‘battery performance is by far the least satisfying aspect of smartphones’. That’s why we don’t publish any mobile phone review without a thorough battery life test where we test every phone’s talk time at medium 3G reception levels – a more realistic measure than typical manufacturer estimates.
But which smartphone is the best for battery life?
Samsung Galaxy SIII best for battery life
As the graphic above demonstrates, the Samsung Galaxy SIII tops the charts for battery life. With a quite astounding result of 726 minutes of calls on medium 3G reception – that’s over 12 hours of calls – the Galaxy SIII is the best smartphone for battery life we’ve ever tested.
It beat the nearest challenger, the HTC One X, by 91 minutes and managed 259 minutes more than the iPhone 4S – enough time to watch England’s Euro 2012 defeat to Italy twice if you’re feeling especially masochistic. To see how the rest of the features in the phone performed read our Samsung Galaxy S3 review.
The average talk time of the 101 phones Which? has tested was a meagre 315 minutes – slightly over five hours. But some phones, such as the HTC Sensation XL and Motorola Gleam fell below even this low benchmark. The HTC lasted just 272 minutes, around four and half hours, while the Gleam’s 135 minutes (2 hours, 15 mins) is just embarrassing, and it’s not even a smartphone.
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.
How Which? tests smartphone battery life
Everytime we test a mobile phone we perform a range of tests on the battery life to give you an impression of how well it will perform in everyday use. We test how long each handset can make calls over medium reception – to give a realistic estimate of performance – how long they can surf the web using a 3G connection, and how long it takes for each battery to fully recharge.
All of this information is available in our full mobile phone reviews, along with information about how well each handset performs in everyday use and the verdict on its camera, music player and web browser.