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
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.