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Apple iPad Air 2 battery life test: shorter battery life despite Apple’s claims

Apple iPad Air 2 battery life test: shorter battery life despite Apple’s claims
Apple has gained a lot of bragging rights with the iPad Air 2: it’s the world’s thinnest tablet, and at that - one of the lightest ones. Notably, it achieves all of this without compromising on performance, as the Air 2 features a massively powerful, tri-core processor.

However, you can’t just avoid the laws of physics and having a thinner and lighter device like the iPad Air 2 does mean that something had to give. Unfortunately for many, in Apple’s new tablet this compromise is the battery size. The new iPad Air 2 comes with a 7340mAh battery, nearly 17% smaller than the 8820mAh juicer on last year’s iPad Air.

As much as we all like to believe in miracles (especially with the increasingly chilly and Christmas-y weather), our iPad Air 2 battery life test score shows that smaller size in this case does mean shorter actual battery life, and we are not really witnessing a miracle here.

The new tablet scored 7 hours and 27 minutes on our battery life test, a full hour and 11 minutes less than its predecessor. This is roughly in line with the decrease in battery capacity - 17% decrease in capacity results in a nearly 14% drop in battery life on our test. Let us also remind you that we test all devices under identical conditions: the display is calibrated at 200 nits, and all run a script that simulates average use, running non-stop, without any screen off time. Take a look at how the new iPad Air 2 ranks compared to its peers right below:

Apple iPad Air 2 batter life test results

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage. All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.

Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2
7h 27 min (Good)
Apple iPad Air
8h 38 min (Excellent)
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
6h 54 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
7h 2 min (Good)
LG G Pad 8.3
5h 4 min (Poor)
Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2
8h 58 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
7h 4 min (Good)
View all

We should also say that we were particularly curious to run our own tests, as Apple claims that despite the change in battery capacity, the new iPad Air 2 does not make a compromise and does not have ‘shorter battery life’. Here is the company’s official statement, found on the Performance page for the Air 2:

Apple iPad Air 2 battery life test: shorter battery life despite Apple’s claims
“With this kind of performance, you might expect a compromise or two. Like a bigger form factor or a shorter battery life. But iPad Air 2 is both thinner and lighter than the previous iPad Air. And thanks in part to the M8 motion coprocessor, it still has an incredibly long 10-hour battery life.*”

Admittedly, the asterisk links to a disclaimer saying that battery life varies by use and configuration, and the load that we put our devices through might (and probably does) differ than what Apple itself tests.

However, given the consistency of our own test, we're seeing conclusive evidence that the battery life of the iPad Air 2 does in fact fall short of the original iPad Air in a direct comparison, something that contradicts Apple's claims. Unfortunately, this also dismantles a good deal of the magical 'no-compromise' transformation narrative of the Air 2, and leaves us with a less pretty iPad fairy tale for Christmas.

Story timeline

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posted on 27 Oct 2014, 06:29 2

1. LuckyS (Posts: 154; Member since: 07 Dec 2013)

PA, any Nexus news this week?

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 06:33 9

2. Victor.H (Posts: 790; Member since: 27 May 2011)

Hopefully :)

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 06:39

5. boosook (Posts: 1442; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)

fingers crossed! :)

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 06:50 1

7. cnour (Posts: 1527; Member since: 11 Sep 2014)

Nexus, what is that?

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 08:07

12. bendgate (unregistered)

Flagship phones/tablets which runs on stock google android.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 09:11 1

15. shahrooz (Posts: 785; Member since: 17 Sep 2013)

congratulations on being trolled

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 11:17

21. bendgate (unregistered)

Your welcome.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 10:37

20. shuaibhere (Posts: 1986; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)

Something better than iphone and ipad...

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 06:36 2

3. saffant (Posts: 274; Member since: 04 Jul 2011)

Disappointing. I might have to consider getting the iPad Air instead then. However, I'll give it time. The results might improve with an update.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 06:36 4

4. vincelongman (Posts: 5081; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)

27.6 Wh vs 32.9 Wh in last year (Wh is the more accurate measure (Wh = V * mAh))
Probably because they made it thinner

Also the A8X is a tricore, vs the A7 which was a dualcore, which probably reduces the efficiency benefit from the 20 nm process

Still a great upgrade from last year's (especailly the 2GB ram), unlike the Mini 3 which is quite disappointing IMO

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 07:06 2

9. eggimage (Posts: 80; Member since: 19 Jan 2012)

exactly. they've been on a battery slashing rampage since ipad3/4, both of which had a whopping 42.5wh battery. last year when Air was announced I was already kinda worried that they cut a good chunk of battery capacity, luckily they managed to maintain the battery life on the same level. but this year, it's just absurd.. C'mon! 27.6wh?? down from 42.5?? that's a 35% decrease on the total capacity since the 4.
I SERIOUSLY do NOT care about that minuscule weight difference now when the battery life is WAY MORE important.
they've been doing this same trick over and over where they make some absurdly thin gadgets to brag about their advanced technologies while cutting down lots material costs, compromising the battery life and yet still the majority of the consumers are not aware of it. But to be honest, even the ones who do notice and understand it can do absolutely nothing about it either.
Now we either buy 50 wall chargers & lightning cables to leave everywhere, or we use nothing at all. No, android & Windows devices are for completely different purposes, everybody knows that, thank you.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 08:02 1

11. Awalker (Posts: 1696; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)

One slight correction: Wh = V *Ah

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 06:41 3

6. Duketytz (Posts: 534; Member since: 28 Nov 2013)

Just like among us humans, thin doesn't equate better

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 07:02

8. Tuga_Peter (Posts: 12; Member since: 27 Oct 2014)

It's my first comment here.

I am very surprised with the difference between the battery life of ipad mini 2 and the ipad mini 3. Is it correct?

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 07:39

10. tedkord (Posts: 14192; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

This isn't possible. Jonathan Gellar proclaimed it as big a game changer as the original iPhone. It had zero compromises, according to him.

And he's no Apple sycophant. Right?

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 08:39 1

13. scarface21173 (Posts: 239; Member since: 17 Aug 2014)

Noticed the difference between good and excellent is 8 minutes

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 09:13

16. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14629; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

Because excellent is rate at 7hr or above

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 09:10 1

14. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14629; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

Amazing how the Note 12.2 has a larger display by 3inches, and a higher resolutions by over 2M pixels and yet it still lasts hours longer and it has extended capabilities like sdcard support, stereo speakers, multi-window, S-Pen and full multi-tasking.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 09:21

17. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 2236; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)

Much, much bigger, so it has a bigger battery, slower SoC, poorer quality screen, slower WiFi, slower internal storage...the list goes on.

SDcard support? You still list that as a "pro"? Slow, easily corrupted/degraded add-on storage is old news. The 128GB available on the Air 2 is faster than the 16/32GB available on the Note Pro, and it is many factors faster than junk SD cards.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 14:40

23. AntiFanBoyz (unregistered)

Whatever dude. Internal is better than SD, but SD is inherently better than no SD. Old news? Someone forgot to tell that to pro photographers using SD in their $2000+ DSLR cameras.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 09:28

18. dimas (Posts: 2527; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)

Apple can't back up their marketing speeches on battery life now, can they?

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 10:23

19. TimCook (banned) (Posts: 450; Member since: 23 Oct 2014)

That's Strange because my Air2 lasts about the same with my old Air,
Plus other websites who have also tested the. Air2 say it has similar battery life with the Air.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 12:49

22. fzacek (Posts: 2486; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)

Stupid compromises...

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 16:27

24. ThePython (Posts: 901; Member since: 08 May 2013)

...all because Apple continues to feed its own thinness/thickness fetish.

posted on 27 Oct 2014, 16:36

25. gigaraga (Posts: 1454; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)

Nowhere near my 14 hour iPad 2 battery life. Usually, the newer generations of tech should have better battery life. Funny to see it degrading as each new generation comes out. Note Pro 12.2 FTW.

posted on 07 Jan 2015, 13:55

26. philipbradbury (Posts: 1; Member since: 07 Jan 2015)

After a few years sharing my partner's iPad 2 16GB Wi-Fi, I received an iPad Air 2 128GB cellular for Christmas. I immediately noticed the battery life was poorer than the old model. I charge-cycled the new iPad about 15 times before carrying out a comparison test. I factory reset the iPad Air 2 and made sure nothing was running in the background, Bluetooth etc. I installed one app; the BBC News app. I then ran this app on the iPad Air 2 and the old, much used, iPad 2 (which had all its apps and background tasks working as it wasn't mine to change!). I streamed the live BBC News Channel on both iPads with the audio muted and the screen brightness on full. The old iPad 2 lasted exactly six hours, the new iPad Air 2 lasted 4 hours 45 minutes. It is going back.

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