New iPhones give shorter battery life than Android rivals

The iPhone 5s smashed the opposition in our recent smartphone speed test, producing a test result 50% faster than the previously top ranked phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4. But how would the iPhone 5s, and the cheaper iPhone 5c, fare in our battery tests?

To find out we compared them against all the other flagship phones from the Nokia Lumia 1020 to the HTC One. Our lab experts checked how long the battery in each phone lasts when making calls and also when browsing the web over 3G. Read on for the full results.

Phone reviews – read our verdict on all the latest handsets

iPhone battery life

Which phone has the best battery life?

Our tests prove that while the batteries in the new iPhones last longer than those in the old iPhone 5, they still can’t match the capacity of those in the best Android phones.

In our latest phone tests we found that the battery in the new iPhone 5c lasted for 564 minutes of calls or 252 minutes online. Meanwhile, the battery in the iPhone 5s ran out after 651 minutes of calls or 298 minutes online

That’s not bad across all smartphones but both mobiles lag behind many flagship handsets. Their results are dwarfed by those achieved by the outstanding Samsung Galaxy S4. This managed an incredible 1,051 minutes of calls (that’s over 17 and a half hours!) or 405 minutes online.

The HTC One gave the second longest call time, managing 771 minutes before we had to reach for our charger, though it only came fourth in the internet test (339 minutes). Samsung’s compact version of its flagship handset, the S4 Mini came third in our call tests (746 minutes) and second in our internet head to heads (394 minutes).

Read our Apple iPhone 5s review to find out how it performed in our tough lab tests.

How Which? tests battery life

We test battery life using our own phone network simulator so that we can be certain that the signal strength is the same every time – signal strength affects battery life as phones have to work harder when there’s poor reception.

We also set the screen brightness on every phone to the same level; this is a readable level rather than the maximum so that we don’t penalise phones with brighter displays. Finally, we condition each phone’s battery before testing by fully charging it and then discharging it.

We then make a continuous call (for the call time test) and access a regularly updating special web page over 3G (to test web browsing).

Of course, no one will really use their phone to just make continuous calls or browse the web – instead we do lots of different things. And everyone uses their phone differently. However by focusing on these two key elements we get a clear understanding of the battery’s capacity and can directly compare different phones.

Battery life vs portability

The S4 and 5s may both be premium smartphones (with premium prices) but pick up them up and there’s an obvious difference – the S4 is far bigger. The S4’s larger size (5-inches corner to corner vs 4-inches for the 5s) means that there’s space for a much higher capacity battery (2600mAh vs 1560mAh in the iPhone) and this gives the S4 a huge advantage.

It’s a similar story with the 4.7-inch HTC One (2300mAh). Even the smaller versions of these phones, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC One Mini are bigger than the iPhones and have higher capacity batteries (1900 and 1800mAh respectively).

So there’s a clear trade-off between size and battery life. And you’ll have to choose what’s more important – a compact iPhone that can be slipped into your pocket, and is easy to use one-handed, or a bigger, heavier Android-alternative that’ll keep on going long after the iPhone has run out of juice.

How important is battery life to you when buying a phone? And what do you make of the iPhones’ performance? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Categories: Apple, Phones, Smartphones

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33 replies

  1. Not including the Droid MAXX in this study is like leaving Google Chrome in a web browser comparison or the Bugatti Veyron or McLaren F1 which would make the Jaguar XJ220 the fastest in the world right??? Wrong. You lost all credibility by not including the heavyweights.

  2. “Which” is UK based organisation. They were testing phones available and popular in the UK. The Droid Maxx and Moto X are not available over here.

  3. Where are the Sony Phones? The Xperia ZR has 2 days of battery time, with normal use with calls, wifi LTE and BT.. By fare the best smartphone battery time I have seen..

  4. It’s not just battery life that’s important. It’s whether the battery can be replaced with a fresh one. With many phones you can’t.

    The very first thing I look at in a phone is whether the battery can be replaced. If it can’t it immediately gets struck off the list. The same goes for everyone else in my family.

    Please could we had an appropriate box to tick in the “Compare Features and Price” in Which? reviews? This would save me and many others an awful lot of time.

  5. These individual reports – first speed then battery life – are becoming increasingly perplexing.
    What are you trying to prove? Surely the only report that you should publish is a comparison of similar phones and how they perform in real life situations.
    Surely the better report would be to prepare a ‘real use’ scenario. Then compare how long each phone would last under these circumstances and then how quickly the battery can be recharged.
    But even then there is nothing to beat an across the board survey that takes into account value for money.

    1. That is shocking and not right. It suggests that either you have a rogue application installed that is draining the battery or you have a faulty battery.

      If you go into the phone settings you can can check to see what has been consuming the power. If it is an app hogging the power it should be obvious.

      If nothing appears to be hogging the power, it suggests a faulty battery. Check on Amazon for a replacement (unless it is still under 12 months’ old and in warranty).

  6. I have to agree with michelle on this one

    Me amd 2 friends have the same phone and we all have the same problem that the batteries dont last the full day

    We all.use our phone for internet usage and calls etc and none of them last anymore than 15 hours without needing charged

    which is a big let down seeing im out of the house at 7am everyday and not back in untill sometimes as late as 10pm

    I wouldnt say im a heavy user either

    general check emails . Facebook. Twitter

    I cant imagine it lasting long with music or watching a video on it

    1. Last week Samsung announced that it was withdrawing the Android update (to 4.3 Jellybean) on the S3 because so many users were reporting battery problems. They had updated the S3 to Android 4.3 to make it compatible with the stupid new wristwatch thingy (to increase potential sales).

      Do a quick search on Google to see the reports. I guess that either there will be a fix shortly or Samsung will rollback the S3 to Android 4.2.

  7. As I am deafened I am unable to follow the video of the products that I am interested in is it possable to get sub titles on them ???? signing does not work as you have to watch two things at the same time

  8. I am interesred in a new Lap top or Tablet which do you think would be best for me as I take a lot of animal photos plus as a deafened person use email as my means of comunication, I have been told I would need 1Tb of hard disc !!!!

    1. A tablet is great for portability, carrying around the home from room to room, sending emails and viewing photos or even TV. But it is limited to only 32 or 64 GB memory as they don’t have any disk drive, only memory cards. You will need a good Internet connection for watching TV – a minimum of 5 Mbps but better if you have a fast connection over 10 Mbps.

      A tablet is good for viewing photos and basic photo editing which you can do on the tablet or on line – that will also need a reasonably fast Internet connection.

      But for serious photo editing you will need a laptop with dedicated editing software and a large hard disk. A tablet really cannot be regarded as a serious photo editor.

      If you wear a hearing aid, many now have BlueTooth compatibility so that you can ‘pair’ your laptop or tablet (or mobile phone) with your hearing aid too.

    2. thank you for the fast reply I think it will be a new Laptop so will have a look at the which laptop reorts.
      I use an hearing aid but it will not connect as it is an NHS issue

  9. I stick a Note 2 in various pockets. Even with a case it fits just fine.

    Being over 40, the utility of a decent screen means I can USE it for many purposes without squinting, headaches or a magnifying glass.

    An iphone would just be a phone, with short battery life and a screen I can’t use for much else without putting on some glasses.

    My few remaining colleagues still on iphone plans, have theirs on life support all day.
    OTOH, mine’s in a pocket, where it supposedly doesn’t fit or just on the desk without an electron transfusion reviving it.

  10. Can I just say what a aid to search out someone who truly knows what theyre speaking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know easy methods to carry an issue to light and make it important. Extra people have to learn this and understand this facet of the story. I cant consider youre not more common because you definitely have the gift.

  11. When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any method you possibly can take away me from that service? Thanks!

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