Battery life showdown: See how popular flagships stack up against each other


As time goes by, so do the capabilities of your smartphone continuously improve — it's faster than before and can handle more complex graphics, its display is more pixel-dense and better calibrated, and the camera on its back is more potent than ever. The same goes for its longevity — but not by a factor nearly as large enough.

Battery tech remains a tough nut to crack, especially when as rapid improvements are expected within ever smaller and thinner form factors. As mentioned, improvements have been made, but the general consensus is that more is absolutely better, and we expect this to remain the case for years to come. Only once (and if) we get to featurephones-like battery life do we suspect that people will, in their minds, start devaluing any additional increases — the focus will then move elsewhere. For the time being, however, such a future sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi flick. With this in mind, it's not surprising to see that battery life concerns are central to a lot of users' purchasing decisions. That's also why battery life is integral to our review process, and why we've developed an in-house benchmark testing for it.

Battery specifications (official)
Battery capacityTalk time Standby time Video playbackMusic playback
Samsung Galaxy S62,550 mAh17 hours (3G)-13 hours49 hours
Samsung Galaxy Note 43,220 mAh20 hours (3G)-14 hours82 hours
Apple iPhone 61,810 mAh14 hours (3G)10.4 days (2G)11 hours50 hours
Apple iPhone 6 Plus2,915 mAh24 hours (3G)16 days (2G)14 hours80 hours
LG G33,000 mAh21 hours (3G)22.8 days (2G)--
LG G43,000 mAh19 hours (3G)15 days (2G)--
HTC One M92,840 mAh21.7 hours (3G)16.3 days (3G)
Sony Xperia Z33,100 mAh14 hours (2G)37.1 days (2G)10 hours130 hours
Google Nexus 63,220 mAh24 hours (2G)13.8 days (2G)10 hours-
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge3,000 mAh18 hours (3G)-12 hours67 hours

But battery benchmarks are incredibly hard to get right — there are just so many variables involved. From differences in software, through the impossibility to encompass all usage scenarios, down to the core of the testing methodology itself. Not at all coincidentally, various smartphone benchmarking suites offer to test for battery life, and in many cases offer conflicting results. That isn't because one is necessarily inferior than the other, but because they focus on different areas. Today, we'll be taking a closer look at what such third-party benchmarks produce in terms of results, what the thinking behind them is, and if any one flagship can be crowned as an objective king of the hill.

Geekbench 3


The work of Primate Labs Inc., Geekbench is a widely-respected, CPU-centric benchmark which, as of its latest major update, can now also benchmark battery life cross-platform — so both Android and iOS devices.

At its core, Geekbench 3 runs a subset of tests in a loop, trying to perform a given number of iterations per second. If the device manages to get these done, it spends the remaining time sitting idle. If not, the target iterations are reduced. The resulting score is then the multiplication of the total runtime of the test (so from 100% battery to 0%) times the average number of iterations per second. By rewarding phones that complete more iterations per second and spend less time idle, the benchmark essentially polices itself and doesn't allow poorly-performing devices to climb to the top through runtime alone, as that would have been the result of more time spent idle and not burning through its battery. That's why the runtime of the test is less important than the actual, final battery score, as you'll see below (the Note and the LG G3 are good examples of this).

Before we get to the scores themselves, it's important to point out that Geekbench 3 automatically dims the screens of all devices to a preset level, and all the testing happens behind the scene. That is, the test is synthetic in nature, and not an attempt to mimic real world scenarios such as browsing a page, opening and closing apps, editing photos, and so on.

As you can see, Samsung's Galaxy S6, despite its smallish, 2,550 mAh battery, actually aced Geekbench 3's tests, and ranked at the top with a sizable advantage over Sony's Xperia Z3. The LG G4, too, had a good showing, and suggests that a lot has changed since the days of the LG G3, which ranked second to last. Looking at Apple's iDevices, the regular iPhone 6 finished last, while the larger 6 Plus took a middle spot. 

PCMark


Developed by Futuremark — the company behind other well-known products such as 3DMark — PCMark is a general purpose performance testing suite for Android. As you probably guessed, that suite of benchmarks also includes a dedicated battery test.

We quite liked what Futuremark has done with the battery test within PCMark, as real world workloads are looped to better predict actual run time. For example, tested areas include text processing, web browsing, photo editing, video playback, and more. All of these take place on screen and we can watch how the device is handling them. In short, it's a looped scenario made up of a number of mini scenarios that attempt to mimic typical, active usage of the device.

Active usage is key to PCMark's testing methodology, and for good reason. More specifically, the benchmark runs from 100% to 20%, and does not go any lower than that by design. Since many phone makers optimize their devices for critical battery levels, and in some cases make a big difference, we were wondering why that is, and so we asked Futuremark directly. We were told that since users almost always correct their usage when they're almost out of charge and avoid the type of activities that PCMark tests for (true), it makes sense for that part to not be included. It's not a perfect solution, of course, but it makes a lot of sense. So what PCMark does is instead extrapolate the score from 20% to 5% based on its performance thus far, and the final 5% are discarded altogether.

Here's the exact formula:


Lastly, it's important to note that PCMark advises users to calibrate their screen's brightness to 200 nits, just as we do on our own, in-house test. The scores you see below were all achieved with the test devices set at that brightness level.



PhoneArena.com's custom battery benchmark


As many of you likely know, we have our own custom battery benchmark, which was developed in-house. At its core, it's something of a mix between what both Geekbench 3 and PCMark have going on in that it blends synthetic components with real world scenarios. Like PCMark, we also carry out our test with the phones set at 200 nits brightness in order to get more consistent results.

So how does it work? Essentially, the test is an attempt to mimic real world battery life by breaking it down into a number of categories based on research on smartphone usage. So, for example, if our data indicates that the average Joe out there spends 20% of his hands-on time watching video, our script will attempt to simulate the activity with a synthetic workload, all the while the screen is kept on. Obviously, video playback is only one of several categories that we test for to estimate a smartphone's battery life. 

Unlike PCMark, however, our own benchmark runs from 100% until the battery is completely exhausted and the device turns off. This means that whenever the phone gets into critical territory, somebody is watching at all times in order to dismiss any low battery prompts that dim the screen and invalidate the test. Also, even though we don't always state this publicly, it's not uncommon for us to re-run tests if we suspect something might have gone wrong. Almost without exception, however, successive runs indicate statistically insignificant deviations that reinforce our initial findings. Here they are:

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 7h 14 min (Good)
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 8h 43 min (Excellent)
Google Nexus 6 7h 53 min (Good)
Apple iPhone 6 5h 22 min (Poor)
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 6h 32 min (Average)
LG G3 6h 14 min (Average)
LG G4 6h 6 min (Average)
HTC One M9 6h 25 min (Average)
Sony Xperia Z3 9h 29 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge 7h 8 min (Good)

Best by unanimous decision?


Now that we've gotten the specifics out of the way, you might be wondering why every benchmark seems to differ with its rankings. That's understandable, but you should keep in mind that each of them tests for different things and is resting on a methodology that can differ considerably. It is therefore logical to see contradicting scoring.

For what it's worth, our opinion is that PCMark, along with our own battery benchmark, are adequate predictors of battery life since they're either entirely or partially based on workloads that the typical user's device will experience. Geekbench 3 attempts to do that, as well, though we don't quite agree with the screen dimming part — after all, most of us care about screen-on time at least as much as standby time.

With the above in mind, the best you, as a consumer, can do is to take all three into account and estimate their unanimous performance accordingly. We did just that, and the way we see it, the Sony Xperia Z3, the Galaxy S6, and the Note 4 — in that order — consistently perform the best. At the other end of the spectrum we've got the iPhone 6 (though we have one data point less for it), LG G3, and HTC One M9, the three of which performed worst. 

FEATURED VIDEO

107 Comments

1. hateftotti

Posts: 233; Member since: May 03, 2011

Galaxy S6 Active FTW

22. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

S6 with such a small battery and QHD is doing great in most tests. Maybe Samsung knows a thing or two about efficiency that other vendors don't.

45. zachki17

Posts: 294; Member since: Sep 14, 2014

Faekeeeeeeeee g4 is a lot better then gs6 samsung arena f**k you

51. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

In what ways?

66. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Z3 compact if PA includes it will be the king Z3 will be second though. I don't think they should left it out considering ip6 is there for comparison. Typical PA always the biased approach to all other OEM except apple and samsung.

81. ogee4life

Posts: 105; Member since: Apr 12, 2014

Absolutely spot on, these guys over rate Samsung and Apple to a bias fault. How can the S6 be ranked 2nd, in which world? I ve seen full reviews, not a single reviewer praises the battery life. Most say it can give you 3 and half hours of on screen time before dying from full charge. There's no way the Lg and the nexus won't have better battery life than Samsung and apple, all other reviews point to that.

58. Torovolt

Posts: 2; Member since: Jun 17, 2015

What is funny is that the Long Term review on the Note 4 concludes that the Battery life was not good in real life use and I can confirm that too since I have one. Yet this report place the Note 4 among the best. WTF?!

63. xtremesv

Posts: 299; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

My Exynos Note 4 battery life is not astonishing but very good, it's on par with my last phone the Xperia Z2 and then I was pleased.

82. ogee4life

Posts: 105; Member since: Apr 12, 2014

Anything to make Samsung top they would do, if they had their wish they would even crown it number one, see how close the note 4 is to the z3. We all know in reality tha gap is alot more than that.

65. cheetah2k

Posts: 2288; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

G4 better than the S6?? Hows that mega screen lag going?

28. waddup121 unregistered

Imagine of the Active had 3550 maH battery...

88. Simona unregistered

huawei mate 2 and 7 rocks

2. kkmkk

Posts: 699; Member since: May 06, 2013

sorry phoneaarena but your rank is full of s**t the only website that i would trust interim of battery rank would be gsmarena and to support my point of view that lg g3 and s5 were wrong and you eventually changed them after 2 month

60. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

While GSMA does have decent battery benchmark, there are too many unknowns about their testing. Which websites and what version (desktop or mobile) are they using for web test. Which video and technical specs of said video. It's not the same if they are using a documentary about Antarctica od Dark Knight and D1 of FullHD video. Also not having music playback as a factor is kind of odd, since all the people I know use their phones more for music than for video and web combined.

75. raky_b

Posts: 420; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

if they use same for all devices, it dosen't matter how they do it. but, what i know is, benchmarks can be fooled. Sammy doing it (just see results of S6 and S6 edge with SAME HW at Antutu), HTC was caught before...and who can say all of them not doing same again at others synt. tests? what i can see is how many owners of Sammys flagships are complaining to its battery life online. as HTC M9, do also. i know from my expirience iP6 is not better, and i know xperia's flagship is only one that i had 2 days without recharging it (did not own s6, M9, or Moto X, and i cant tell,exept what i read, but i had S5 and M8 and they ware solid for one day, but not more...and this new generation have lower cap. batteries)

109. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

I thought I was the only one, the battery on the S6 is complete crap, even in my pocket it tends to get hot and drain battery like crazy, the M9 has some of the same issues, not as bad though, so far the lumia 1520 with its huge battery lasts me longer, and the iPhone while not great while being used I do have to admit that it has great stand by time. it feels that android on lollipop just basically took a dump on battery life.

3. Jason2k13

Posts: 1469; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

I guess this year Samsung has no strong competition until the note 5 comes out. QHD screen, best specs, great camera, good design, small battery but still better than most phones with bigger battery.

5. SamsungEU

Posts: 147; Member since: Dec 29, 2014

true, my friend

25. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 707; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

Come on, lets be fair. So far, Apple's iPhone has always been able to challenge the Galaxy S Series each year. We definitely have to count them in this year as well. I have to admit though that Samsung raised the bar extremely high this year. If Apple is not going to switch to DDR4 ram and second gen flash storage, they won't be able to beat the S6 in performance. I am confident that the A9 CPU and a potential 12MP Camera will be on par with Samsung's equivalents though. About the rest, I am not sure.

4. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

And the Droid Turbo is...where on this list?

34. Shocky unregistered

Regional devices shouldn't be on the list.

78. StanleyG88

Posts: 240; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

So this is an American web site doing the analysis and they can ONLY include those phones available to farmers in the western regions of China??? Why not include those phones that Americans can buy??? Why does everything have to be "worldwide" to be included. Maybe some of those "regional" phones will give the Worldly phones something to strive for.

111. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

The title saids "popular flagships" kinda explains it all. Droid Turbo was notorious for its superb battery life but only geeks appreciated it. Outside US barely no one know what it is. We in SE Asia don't whine when news about US carriers comes out so out of courtesy this site would like to be viewed as in a worldwide interest. #noracist

59. -ARTE-

Posts: 80; Member since: Jun 14, 2015

You've found you're old avatar.

64. shahrooz

Posts: 792; Member since: Sep 17, 2013

*your

6. jan25

Posts: 470; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

I have Note 4 and I can safely say that the iPhone 6+ beats it in batterylife. Perhaps PA should rethink their testing methods.

7. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Perhaps you should think twice cause every tests showed otherwise

9. Iodine

Posts: 1497; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

That means a single test where iPhone 6 Plus lasts really long will render you as a liar. And the iPhone 6 Plus really lasts lot of time, like it or hate it.

12. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

I know it last good time but on standby, moderate use to heavy use will put it next to the charger. Now tell me if you buy a phone do you leave it on standby all the time or actually use it? Give me some tests that prove otherwise but dont use some iWebsites.

37. peterming

Posts: 8; Member since: Jun 17, 2015

I have Note 4 and iPhone 6+, and from my experience the 6+ wins over Note 4 hands down. Note 4 with KitKat was okay, but Lollipop ruins the battery life. I use my 6+ for work emails, office BBMs, WhatsApp, with always on bluetooth ready to connect to my car stereo whenever I'm driving to and from the office, and at the end of the day the 6+ still have about 40% battery life, more than enough to last till morning without charging. While my Note 4 is for my personal use, also with BBMs, WhatsApp, private emails, with Bluetooth rarely on. Even with mostly on stand by, by 3 pm either I need to plug the charger to Note 4 or swap the battery for a fresh one. Comparing the same standby time between both phones, Note 4 discharges more than 6+. Whatever the tests showed me, I can only speak from my experience, and my experience says quite the contrary.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.