Which tablet has the best battery life? [Infographic]

Tablet life on batteries

Just like smartphones, any tablet wishing to become a Best Buy has to deliver when it comes to battery life. So to separate the best from rest, every tablet Which? tests is tested in lab conditions to see how long it lasts when browsing the web on wi-fi and watching videos.

To ensure our tests are fair, we set the screen brightness to 200 nits (measured using a light meter) before performing each task, so every tablet has to perform in the same conditions. For more information read our post on how we test tablets.

But which tablet has the best battery life?

Tablet battery life compared

As the size of the screen can make such an impact on battery life we’ve divided the tablets into two groups, those with a screen size of 7.9-inches and smaller, and those 9.4-inches and larger.

The best 10-inch tablet battery life


Best 10-inch tablet battery life

Apple wins this category by quite a margin. The Apple iPad with Retina display not only beats the competition comfortably, it surpasses the Apple iPad 2 by almost 4 hours. The iPad 2 still manages around an hour longer than the next nearest challenger the Sony Xperia S which managed close to nine hours and two minutes longer than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1which lasted 532 minutes.

Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet managed to record a respectable 501 minutes (over eight and a half hours), around half an hour longer than Google’s new Nexus 10 tablet which lasted half an hour more than the average result for all 16 10-inch tablets we have tested.

It wasn’t such great news for the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, which only managed 355 minutes (five and a half hours) as a pure tablet. With its keyboard dock, which has an additional battery built-in, it lasts 661 minutes (11 hours). While this would put it second overall in the graphic above, with the dock it weighs a rather hefty 1.1kg – nearly double similar sized tablets.

The best 7-inch tablet battery life

Best 7" tablet battery life

When it comes to 7-inch tablets, Apple is still ahead of the game with the new Apple iPad Mini managing over 13 hours of web browsing and more than 3 hours more than the next best challenger, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. The Google Nexus 7 from Asus does well with a respectable 550 minutes (nine hours and 10 minutes) of web browsing.

Unfortunately, the Amazon Kindle Fire can’t quite match the performance of its bigger brother and only recorded 437 minutes (over 7 hours), half an hour less than the average score of all 10 7-inch tablets we have tested. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 also disappointed, only managing 425 minutes (slightly more than seven hours).

We perform similar tests on smartphones – see which smartphone has the best battery life for the results of our smartphone testing.

How Which? tests tablet battery life

Each time we test a tablet we check the battery life for web browsing over wi-fi, over 3G (if relevant) and for video playback. To keep the tests fair we set the screen brightness to 200 nits (a reasonable daytime brightness level) using a light meter to ensure no tablet has an unfair advantage by using a low default brightness setting. We also test how long the battery takes to fully recharge.

The full results can be found in our tablets reviews where we also reveal how each product performed in our tests for factors such as ease of use and the quality of features such as the touchscreen and the camera – if it has one.

More on this…


43 replies

  1. Why is there a headline picture of the device that came third?
    The iPad won, but it relative perform is stated, not it’s absolute.
    Not only do you state and praise the 3rd placed device’s absolute performance, it is also in the picture of the device as the time shown on it.
    I could go on; this is very poor presentation of data from what looks like thorough tests.
    This looks like an advert for the 3rd placed device; not impartial at all.
    I have noticed this lack of impartiality and bias against Apple in several postings from Which.
    I have been meaning to cancel my subscription, thanks for the reminder. Must do it today.

    1. Frank. You’re accusing Which of bias against Apple, while others accuse them of bias for Apple. It’s a damn headlining pic — nothing more. Does it say “Winner” on it? No.

    2. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comment. Just to let you know we’ve edited your comment to reflect our commenting guidelines. Please don’t leave anything that could be construed as a personal attack.

    3. I cannot understand why anyone would subscribe to a magazine like Which? if they are so blinkered that they cannot see an impartial review when it is staring them in the face. As a long-time subscriber, this is always my first port-of-call when making any significant purchases. Keep up the good work!

    4. “I have noticed this lack of impartiality and bias against Apple in several postings from Which.
      I have been meaning to cancel my subscription, thanks for the reminder. Must do it today.”

      Whilst I’m not in agreement about your point about the use of picture, I have been thinking exactly the same thing recently. The which technology are either hardcore Apple fans, or receiving free gifts/bungs. The lack of knowledge about Android products is astounding. I had to laugh when recently, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was stated as the “next best thing” to an iPhone (iPhone 5 94% and S3 84%) Really? It’s an excellent alternative, capable of so much more than the iPhone if you’re prepared to do your research.

      You often list things the iPhone is capable of, but fail to mention the same thing of the android product (that’s sitting right next to it in a round up with a lower score). I even read a reply to a consumer question on Android, where you gave completely the wrong advice. If you were a Android experts, you would have given the correct answer.

      You can’t read through a which magazine without seeing an Apple product in there these days. If it’s not a picture of one (it is, BTW), it’s a reference to one “not as good as XXX Apple product). It’s irritating.

      I too will be cancelling my subscription.

    5. *Sorry, to correct my above post:

      The iPhone 5 was given 90% and the S3 83% in the Dec 2012 Which mag.

      The iPhone is listed “from £529 Sim-Free” and the review says “Very Expensive”, but “another outstanding phone by Apple”.

      The S3 was listed as £450 on PAYG (and “pricey” in the mini-review)

      Not really a balanced point. Why’s one Sim-fee and the other PAYG? I bought my S3 for £395 Sim-Free on Amazon, BTW. why do you have it listed as £450 PAYG?

      In the same mag, Apple laptops get 3 pages and windows 8 half a page.

      Gah. I could go on…

    6. I’ve just managed to get rid of my HTC Android phone. I had 2 iPhones before that and I’ve gone back to an iPhone 4s. The HTC phone was horrendous to use. The battery ran down very quickly. It was impossible to use any of the internet based facilities away from my my wireless network at home. Settings on the phone just seemed to change themselves randomly. I was paying nearly £40 a month for very little usage. I bought the phone on the recommendation of two sons who are anti Apple and very pro Android. They know how to handle the Android phones and can get what they want out of them – I don’t have that sort of knowledge and suffered as a result. Interestingly I sold the 2 year old HTC phone on ebay for £110 and my 4 year old iPhone 3 with a crack in the back of the case for £90. I am delighted with my iPhone and even my wife has commented on the sudden decrease in profanities!!

  2. I find it amazing the amount of people who come on here and acuse Which? of being biased against Apple. Almost as amazing as the amount who come on and accuse of Which? of being biased for Apple. Surely they can’t be both.

    Frank, I’m not sure how ‘The Apple iPad 3 wins the competition by quite a distance’ qualifies as bias against Apple. Nor do I see any in this blog.

    Good work again by Which?

  3. You are right, how can anyone interpret ‘The Apple iPad 3 wins the competition by quite a distance’ as bias against Apple.

    Well in context of this Which? report you can, when the report raises question such as “Why is there a headline picture of the device that came third?” Simple question, what is the answer?

    1. Hi Frank, I can see your point.

      The headline reads ‘best tablet’ and the image was of a tablet that wasn’t the best. I think the image was chosen arbitrarily, which should never be the case with articles writing about the best or worst.

      I’ve now removed the image of the Samsung tablet and replaced it with a generic battery image.

    1. “Each time we test a tablet we check the battery life for web browsing over wi-fi, over 3G (if relevant) and for video playback.”

      Apparently, multitasking had nothing to do with anything. The iPad batteries last longer. Period.

    2. Don’t know much about iOS do you?

      Just for your info, since Jan 2007, the original iPhone, iOS has been able to do full multi-tasking (after all its basically Mac OS X with a multi-touch/icon based UI).

      Examples: Run maps while making calls , web-surf while messages come in, use email while listening to music etc. What the ignorant think is multi-tasking is actually allowing 3rd party apps to take control of devices resources and run them down for no benefit, which iOS prevents. What benefit is there in having a video continue to play in the background while you’re in another app? Only wastes the battery.

      iOS allows 3rd party app multi-tasking but only when its actually needed, and I much prefer this on a mobile device with limited resources, this ain’t a desktop plugged into mains power.

  4. How comes that you are the only site on the net, which gets a difference of 8 hours batterylife between the ipad 3 and the transfomer prime?

    Hier die Werte von Engadget:

    Apple iPad (late 2012) – 11:08 (WiFi)

    ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime – 10:17


    iPad 4. Gen surfing over WIFI – 9h 15min

    Asus Transfomer Prime surfing over WIFI – 9h 58min

    1. Hi Michael,

      It may have been because they tested it with the keyboard that comes with the tablet. This has a built-in battery and when we tested it with this attached it managed 11 hours of browsing.

    2. I don’t think so. The TF201 boasts an 18h battery life if docked to the keyboard.
      Comparing my Transformer Prime and my wife’s iPad 2, which we both use about the same way (my usage being slightly more intensive than hers yet not by much), my tablet is certainly ahead of hers in battery life.
      I can get 2 whole days (undocked) of “normal use” (web surfing and social networking over wifi, mailing, video streaming over wifi, office work with apps, gaming) while her iPad 2 only lasts a little over a day, maybe a day and a half and she doesn’t even play !
      Michael is right, the difference between your tests and those of other sites is stellar.
      And how did you manage to get more juice out of the iPad 3’s battery (13h 5min) than Apple’s own specs (claiming “up to 10 hours” which sounds like a maximum to me) ?

    3. Which’s battery numbers on the asus prime are very strange. Every other tech review test I’ve seen – in this country and abroad – gets between 9 and 11 hours for the tablet alone. And whilst I’m sure Which would say they do very thorough testing – and I’m sure they do – every other respectable tech review site says the same. I’ve got about nine or ten hours playing video on my father’s asus TF201 and with the keyboard it gets a couple of days.

  5. How can you think that
    “Run maps while making calls , web-surf while messages come in, use email while listening to music etc”
    Is multitasking, thats only 2 things at a time. True multitasking is being able to do all those things at once like you can on the Nexus 7. I can play a 1st person shooter like Deadtrigger, have my own music playing instead of game music but keep the sound effects and have a mini walk through video playing in the corner with Popcorn player, can still receive emails and have multi tab browser pages runnning, now thats multitasking!!

    1. Is that really useful?

      How exactly do you browse a website while playing a game while watching a video of how to play the game, or more to the point, why?

      I don’t even do all that on a full desktop machine with all the multitasking I could ever want and It’s certainly not worth having if it means sacrificing hours of battery life on a tablet.

    2. i have an iPad 3rd generation. i just now started playing my own music, then fired up Dead Trigger. the music didn’t even hiccup but kept right on playing. emails sent to me still arrive (i hear the chime sound when they do) and i have eight tabs open in Safari which i can switch to at any point by double-tapping my Home button (my game auto pauses when i switch). i don’t have a video playing in a mini window, but i’m playing a full-screen video game and personally wouldn’t care to. this whole “true multitasking” thing i’m sure is great for you, but it trades battery life for something hardly anyone else takes advantage of. i have to recharge my iPad maybe every other day during heavy use (watching videos, gaming, etc.) but my company Galaxy Tab 1 goes from fully charged to totally dead sitting in a desk drawer over the weekend. i don’t see this as “OOH AHH MULTITASKING!!!”, i think “OOH DEAD FREAKIN’ TABLET”.

  6. It’s not surprising that iPad(s) won by a landslide. Apple created iPad both the hardware and the software. Emphasizing on the battery life, prioritizing battery size and placement within the device, efficient battery consumption by other components, efficient coding on the iOS, everything ties together beautifully. Can’t say much about products that have hardware and software designed by multi companies. Integration is the key.

  7. Things this test hasn’t mentioned or taken into account. The size of the video on screen… nexus 10 the whole screen is video, I imagine if you shrank the video to the size of the iPad it would improve battery time. Secondly the nexus 10 would also be loading more web page at once to display which means more gpu power taken. And third there is no account of how fast the tablet loaded webpages. Fourth nexus 10 has more pixels to drive so of course it’s going to use more power. Fifth the range strength and speed of the wireless on each tablet is not listed. And if I thought about it I’m sure I could find more reasons that this test isn’t scientific…

    1. The Retina iPad’s GPU performs twice as fast as Nexus 10 when maxed out but the A6 CPU is more efficient. Nexus 10 has about 30% more pixels and needs more memory. By design, the iPad is already more power efficient since Apple doesn’t like to over spec their devices for marketing purposes. iOS and Android are both pre-emptively multi threaded. but iOS is more careful about letting apps run in parallel. They also manage the app library carefully since Apple check every single one. They can definitely save more power juice than Android’s welcome any app approach.

    2. Battery size difference iPad uses a 11666mAh battery vs a 9000 mAh battery. The iPad’s screen it’s smaller and has less pixels. Regardless of the A6 performance (which by the way can’t be measured against anything but other Apple products) the nexus’s gpu still has to run more pixels.And the multi taking augment is mute because android doesn’t run background apps either, unless they have been coded wing. It makes sense that the iPad runs longer just on the lower res and smaller coupled with a larger battery. This whole test is fluff.

    3. The difference in screen size or battery capacity is only about 30%. They complement each other. Higher res needs equally larger battery. The measured battery consumption difference is 66%. The other battery saving comings from more efficient design and implementation: CPU and GPU usage and design, memory size.

    1. I always replace my favorite devices as soon as possible. Additionally, I always enjoy the things I have to replace yearly the most. It’s their almost immediate obsolescence that makes them so magical.

  8. I believe this report really shows that extended working life is getting better and better as hardware and software is improved. The size of the battery makes a big contribution, but this has to be balanced against the weight of the Tablet.

    The big power zapper is the display, so if you are using your tablet in bright sunlight, it isn’t going to last anything like as long as it would in subdued light.

    So although Which? does test the tablets with the screens set to approximately 200 nits, I’d like to see a more comprehensive test with the devices set to auto-brightness and the ambient lighting conditions varied between subdued light to bright sunlight to see how they perform. This would give a better understanding of how good the screens, light sensor and brightness software algorithms perform in realistic conditions rather than set conditions in a lab.

  9. We bought the Toshiba AT 100 because it has a large battery with long life. In most tests it does not rate well because of weight. In this test, where you are addressing battery life only, it would probably be top yet you did not include it. Strange

  10. How come the Ipad mini and Surface RT are tested here, both of which came out in October 2012 and yet the Acer A700 (June 2012) and more importantly the Asus Infinity TF700 (July 2012) are not included. The Transformer Prime TF 300 is old now even if the TF 700 is hard to find.

  11. I’m wondering if you discovered that the new lighting charger is so much faster than other chargers from Apple. I didn’t perform any test like you do, but I am pretty sure it is at least about 30% faster or better.

  12. u just tested all tablets where ipad family can win (web browsing)
    but how it can perform at video playback
    also u didn’t mention which ios and android versions u tested at.

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