Living with the Apple iPhone 6: battery life, or my secret life as a wall-hugger (part 3)

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

The iPhone 6 has filled a glaring gap in Apple’s portfolio: after all Android smartphone makers had offered large-screen iPhones for years on end, Apple was the only one lacking a phone with a big display. The demand was clearly there as when the release of the iPhone 6 with its larger, 4.7-inch display triggered an enthusiastic reaction not just from the Apple faithful, but also for many that had made the switch to an Android device for its bigger screen estate.

One particularly polarizing part of the iPhone equation, a characteristic that could still make you have second thoughts about switching to Apple’s latest, is battery life. The fact that the iPhone has a tiny, 1810mAh battery while its direct rival, the 5.1-inch Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 2800mAh battery is quite the shocker.

Is iOS really so well optimized as to make up for the difference? And how does this technical difference in capacity translate into real life use? This is my personal story with the iPhone 6, a phone I’ve been using on and off for a couple of months.

Battery life: test numbers and real-life use


When we ran our initial iPhone 6 battery life test here at PhoneArena, I was shocked by the results: I did not expect the 1810mAh juicer of the iPhone to beat the competition, commonly equipped with larger batteries, but I also did not expect it to lose by such a huge margin.

How big was the difference? The Galaxy S5 had a nearly 40% longer battery life. The HTC One (M8) outlasted the iPhone by nearly 35%, even the pretty mediocre by Android standards LG G3 outscored the iPhone 6 by a healthy double-digit percent margin. The only popular phone that had worse battery life than the iPhone 6 was the Nexus 5, but that is not really a compliment as Google’s 2013 flagship is commonly known to have poor longevity.

I should also make it extra clear that our battery life test puts all phones on a level playing field with displays pre-calibrated at 200 nits of brightness. What happens next is that we run a custom script that simulates typical smartphone use, but without ever turning the screen off. This non-stop longevity is the actual result of our battery life testing.

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.

hours Higher is better
Xiaomi Mi 4
8h 32 min (Good)
Motorola Moto X (2014)
5h 45 min (Poor)
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
10h 2 min (Excellent)
Sony Xperia Z3
9h 29 min (Good)
LG G3
6h 14 min (Poor)
Google Nexus 6
7h 53 min (Average)
Google Nexus 5
4h 50 min (Poor)
HTC One (M8)
7h 12 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
8h 43 min (Good)
Samsung Galaxy S5
7h 38 min (Average)
Apple iPhone 6
5h 22 min (Poor)


With all this in mind, I have some good news and some bad news about the iPhone 6 battery life. First, the bad news is that those numbers agree with all of my real-life testing: the iPhone 6 cannot match the battery longevity of most of its Android rivals (and this once again shows how reliable our testing results are).

The good news? I found that this difference mattered less than I expected in my personal use, and what is very likely to be the common use case for many people. I am not trying to justify Apple for its decision to put such a small battery in its flagship, but fact remains that on a typical 9 to 5 type of a job, the phone does last a full work day off the charger and then a little more. Basically, the iPhone 6 has just enough juice so that you get to charge it nightly, and while other phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 do last a bit longer, chances are that the difference is just not that big and you still have to charge them overnight every day.

I approached this four-week living with the iPhone 6 experiment with a lot of caution because of what I knew would be sub-par battery life on Apple’s flagship. My fears, however, turned out to be blown out of proportion.

Interestingly, this experiment has made me reconsider priorities. I found little real-life change to my habits: just as I plugged in my Android phone (I've recently lived with the Galaxy S5 for a few months, also a few weeks with the Note 4) overnight, I did the same with the iPhone.

What was particularly revealing is that my mind kept coming back to remind that it was not battery longevity, but another feature that contributed most to my satisfaction with how satisfactory the smartphone experience is: re-charge time.

Being able to go for a quick pit stop, and have your phone recharged to some 75% in just half an hour is what contributes most to my feeling of an untethered, truly mobile experience. And if there was one feature I would wish for most in the iPhone 6s it would not be a larger battery, but something different: fast recharging times. Currently, and somewhat strangely, it is an exotic phone from China that excels in this: the Oppo Find 7, with its ultra-fast, VOOC charging technology.

minutes Lower is better
Xiaomi Mi 4
126
Motorola Moto X (2014)
176
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
208
Sony Xperia Z3
235
LG G3
120
Google Nexus 6
98
HTC One (M8)
207
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
95
Samsung Galaxy S5
122
Apple iPhone 6
147
OPPO Find 7
88

Tight control over apps makes the iPhone’s battery life very predictable


One final aspect of the iPhone 6’s battery life is just how predictable it is. 

This is a double-edged sword: apps hybernate quickly, and I was surprised to see that apps like Spotify stop synchronizing my playlists when I locked the iPhone 6 (which could leave me without my music on a recent trip, had I not noticed this on time), and that’s something that does not happen on Android.

Yet, there is great peace of mind knowing that no app will suck up your data and your battery in a stealthy, quiet, sneaky way (we’re looking at you Google Plus, Facebook, and countless others). This is an issue of control, and Apple’s ecosystem has got it.

All of this results in you being very confident in the battery life of the iPhone. You know that it will not surprise you and suddenly drop a few percentage points. And yes, the iPhone 6 has a pretty amazing stand-by time, as the overnight drain is just around 2%.

And this concludes our third week of explorations of the iPhone 6. Stay tuned for next week's instalment where we will look at one of the iPhone 6's most praised features - its camera.

Related phones

iPhone 6
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A8, Dual-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 1810 mAh(14h 3G talk time)

FEATURED VIDEO

79 Comments

1. Aliagha

Posts: 42; Member since: Jan 07, 2015

True story Battery life is sooo important these days I would rather a phone with good battery life than taking a extra battery or a power bank with me everywhere i go For eg . Note 4 and z3 both good phones with good battery life ( btw if iphone had a 100 h battery life i would NOT waste my money for that piece of junk )

5. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Both of those phones should be compared to the 6 plus. You have to consider size. Mainly the Note 4, but even the z3 is 5.2 inches which is .3 inches smaller that the iPhone 6 plus.

19. UglyFrank

Posts: 2200; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Z3/HTC One M7/S4 im sure they can all beat the ip6

69. SuperMaoriBro

Posts: 533; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

quote from article: "after all Android smartphone makers had offered large-screen iPhones for years on end" - umm.... since when did Android makers make iPhones? edit: accidentally clicked "reply" instead of "add".

21. buccob

Posts: 2981; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

fine... compare the iPhone 6 to Z3 Compact... I love having +6 hrs of screen on time, heavily used.

37. kbakker

Posts: 16; Member since: Dec 16, 2014

Keep in mind you need to compare the actual size of the device (not screen size). So Yes, a 6+ and Note 4 comparison makes sense. The Z3 however is basically in-between the 6+ and the 6 in terms of actual size so comparing it with either has its caveats. An actual good comparison with the 6 is the Z3 Compact, which smokes the 6 in battery life. So basically your point is moot.

7. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Was the last line necessary?

52. Mutation.X

Posts: 185; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

Yes it was. Lol. Why? Did it hurt your feelings, Apple boy.

30. SuperEd

Posts: 132; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

What's wrong with you people here at PA? Did you know my Lumia 1520 has a 3,400mAh battery. HA! BOOM Baby! Check this out: http://blog.gsmarena.com/nokia-lumia-1520-battery-life-test/ Good luck y'all. There ARE other options out there.

45. meanestgenius

Posts: 22714; Member since: May 28, 2014

Agreed. Especially the last part. +1.

51. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

You claim you're neutral yet you agreed with the last line. Right.

70. meanestgenius

Posts: 22714; Member since: May 28, 2014

Says the dude that trolls Sony to no end. You're in no position to judge.

72. Mutation.X

Posts: 185; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

Absolutely Well said. Calls others users a Troll, when he's one himself.

73. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Neutral? More like hypocrite.

75. meanestgenius

Posts: 22714; Member since: May 28, 2014

Says the the greatest, most hypocritical troll PA has ever seen. You definitely don't have a right to judge anyone, much less me. Take your lying, bumburned self elsewhere, dude.

49. darkkjedii

Posts: 31744; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

That last line was for green thumbs ;)

54. Mutation.X

Posts: 185; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

The last line was to insulting and degrading. Though it must really hurted your desires. Shameless.

57. darkkjedii

Posts: 31744; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Hi Arte. You're too easy to spot. How long will this acct last?

65. iLovesarcasm

Posts: 589; Member since: Oct 20, 2014

They say S5 is cheap and ugly, but I enjoy its 3-day battery life. Just put a case.

2. shnibz

Posts: 519; Member since: Sep 18, 2011

Anyone who thinks they are a "wall-hugger" with an iPhone 6 CLEARLY wasn't a Samsung Galaxy Nexus owner at any point lol. That phone is/was my gold standard for a great phone with horrendously crippling battery life.

20. mrmessma

Posts: 271; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

Amen!

24. PK1983

Posts: 215; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

Great phone until the 4.2 update. Then it was a laggy, buggy mess. The fact that it now sits in my drawer as a backup phone and was not hurled at a wall after one of its many random freezes, reboots, or crashes astonishes me. But, I agree, the phone had horrible battery life even for a device from that era.

3. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

The message is,...you're using it too much. Obviously its meant to be appreciated sitting with a umbilical cord attached. How sad. If they charged more, then as a fashion piece it wouldn't be judged against others so harshly. Up the prices!!

4. FluffyBled unregistered

Which Android maker offered large-screen iPhones?!

6. android_hitman unregistered

That's a sad article trying to justify Apple's failure.

8. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Please explain because if it lasts through a 9-5 shift and a little more after then it did its job well. If you know how to manage battery life, it's no problem at all. I can easily squeeze two days with my 6 Plus.

12. maherk

Posts: 7049; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Oh man, knock it off with you and your 6+, we all get it, trust me. You're making a joke out of yourself, you are the same person who were attacking Apple for going with these specs a year ago, but now since they have gone with a bigger screen, suddenly you became their number 1 fan who is always there to fight with those who criticize them. Stop Being An iHypocrite.

47. Kumar123 unregistered

Stop trying to associate him with apple. He is just a hypocrite, +1 for showing that he is a hypocrite.

56. Mutation.X

Posts: 185; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

Lmfao. I remember he was also disagreeing on an article about Cpu, Socs. Exynos vs Snapdragon. . Which he know claims, Exynos is better.

71. Venkatramanan

Posts: 327; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

Finally he indirectly agrees that he don't use his iphone much since he can not do more things with iphone.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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