iPad Air reigns supreme for tablet battery life – Which? test lab
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition) outpaced the iPad Air in our recent fastest tablet test, proving markedly more speedy than its competitors. But how would it fare in our famed battery life test?
We put the Note up against the Google Nexus 7, Tesco Hudl and, of course, Apple’s iPad Air – alongside several other tablet contenders. Our lab experts measured how long the battery in each device lasts when browsing the internet and watching video. Read on for the full results.
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iPad Air offers hours more battery life
Our testing found that although Apple’s iPads might not be best for speed, they outclass the opposition in terms of battery life.
The iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display and iPad 2 all performed better than the Android alternatives for web browsing. On a full tank, Apple’s iPad Air will last for 658 minutes of web-browsing – beating the 483 minutes offered by the longest-lasting Android tablet we tested, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition). Likewise, the iPad mini with Retina display features an impressive 614 minutes of internet usage, while Apple’s three year old iPad 2 managed a sterling 590 minutes.
Of course, no one uses their tablet just to check the football scores. With TV streaming services like BBC iPlayer and Netflix proving phenomenally popular, how much video a device can play in one charge is hugely important.
The iPad Air proved victorious in this test as well, offering 777 minutes of battery life – that’s enough to watch the entire extended Lord of the Rings trilogy in one sitting. Apple didn’t achieve quite the same dominance in this testing category however, with Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (714 minutes) finishing in second place and the Google Nexus 7 (669 minutes) mustering third position.
How Which? tests battery life
Each time we test a tablet we check the battery life for web browsing over wi-fi, with 3G (if applicable) and for video playback. To ensure parity across products we set their screen brightness to 200 nits (a reasonable daytime brightness level) using a light meter. We’ll also test how long the battery takes to fully recharge.
Although we wouldn’t expect you to continually browse the internet until your tablet runs out, our results do offer the best comparative verdict available. Just because a tablet features a high-capacity battery, it won’t necessarily be frugal with that extra power. Hence the new Nexus 7 and its 3950 mAh battery outperforms the iPad 2′s 6930 mAh battery for video use.
What makes for better battery life?
The bigger a tablet is in size the more likely it is to offer a better battery life. This is simply because 10-inch tablets have more space for a higher capacity battery compared to their 7-inch cousins. That said, sizeable tablets also have bigger screens to power – so operating system efficiency is really important when creating a truly great device. Operating system updates can similarly alter tablet battery life.
With the iPad Air, Apple has clearly been able to strike the right balance between design and battery life. It’s only 7.5 mm thin and yet still manages to offer a 8820 mAh battery that works well in conjunction with iOS 7. That said, there’s more to tablet performance life than the ability to watch a lot of films using it. Read our iPad Air review to find out how our test lab experts rated its screen, available storage space and camera.
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