Sony Xperia Z1 battery life test: a large battery does not help

Sony Xperia Z1 battery life test: a large battery does not help
We came away impressed with the Sony Xperia Z1's 20-megapixel camera, but can it show off in equal measure with great battery life? The Xperia Z1 has gone through our extensive battery test and the score is in.

You would think that the massive 3000mAh battery on the Xperia Z1 would make it last longer than any other 5-inch smartphone out there, but - surprisingly - it does not. 

Quite shockingly, the Xperia Z1 ranks last among top smartphones in its class scoring just 4 hours and 43 minutes of battery life on our test.

What does this number mean? We put devices to a use similar to that of the average user with one difference - we don’t put the tested gadget down for even a second. What this means is that you can expect to have your Xperia Z1 lasting exactly 4 hours and 43 minutes, if you use your phone non-stop. In real-life, however, we do put our phones to rest on even the busiest day. Your real-life mileage will be indeed higher, but not much - at such a low score, the Z1 might not even last through a full workday. Only with milder use, you should be able to have your phone last a full day. That’s a frustrating situation, and we hope Sony gets to work to fix this soon.

How exactly does the Xperia Z1 compare versus today’s most popular smartphones? We said it ranks last, but it’s the difference in longevity we find particularly striking. The newest devices like the Galaxy Note 3 and LG G2 have nearly 50% higher scores.

What is the reason for such a poor showing for the Xperia Z1? We honestly do not know, but we’d assume two reasons - lack of proper software optimization and higher than average brightness. 

With the Xperia Z1, Sony brings a 30% increase in battery size over the preceding Xperia Z, but somehow the actual Z1 battery life goes down. Here is a quick technical breakdown of the battery in recent Sony Xperia devices:

All in all, the Sony Xperia Z1 is a bit of a disappointment, as you can see how it gobbles through your battery, especially when you use it for media or browsing. We hope that newer phones like the T-Mobile Z1 version known as the Sony Xperia Z1s or the Z1 Compact will bring some big improvements.

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
Google Nexus 5
4h 50 min (Poor)
5h 45 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy S4
4h 59 min (Poor)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
6h 8 min (Average)
6h 48 min (Average)
Sony Xperia Z1
4h 43 min (Poor)
Sony Xperia Z
4h 48 min (Poor)

Testing method:
As for our battery test, we use a simulation of real-life usage. A smartphone nowadays is used for much more than calling and texting, so we had to take this into account. The average smartphone user actually spends most of the time on the web and social media, and you might be surprised that this average Joe of a user actually listens to music and plays games more than he talks! To get a better understanding of that average use, feel free to take a look at the top activities we do on our smartphones. We replicate this test very strictly with every phone paying attention to minute detail and even keeping the same distance between devices and the wireless router during testing to keep signal strength the same.

Story timeline

Related phones

Xperia Z1
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 20.7 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(15h 3G talk time)



1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

This is really odd... S4 outlasting the Z1?

16. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

I wonder how the Compact will do. Less pixels, smaller battery.

20. Bioload25

Posts: 213; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

HTC one with a 2300 mAh (even smaller battery) outlasted both S4 and Z1 LOL

2. sonisoe

Posts: 440; Member since: May 06, 2009

sony is infamous for its bad battery no surprise here...

14. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

not battery life per se. it's their stooooopiiiiiiddd displays!

21. fireblade

Posts: 717; Member since: Dec 27, 2013

Meh, my blackberry bold has better display (IPS)

3. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2265; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

Victor,It's not Xperia Z1c, it's Z1s. And 32 gb of internal storage FYI..

9. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

It seems like the "Z1S will be the Z1 mini" rumor has broken their brains. This isn't the first error concerning the new phone. Heck, Phone Arena still hasn't listed the Z1S as a new phone: they just have it under the Z1 as "T-Mobile - Upcoming as Sony Xperia Z1S" even though there are clearly physical design changes. That's like not having a separate page for the Lumia 928, but saying that the 920 "Came to Verizon as the 928."

24. jdot104

Posts: 95; Member since: Jun 17, 2011

It seems like most of the sites covering this phone haven't listed it as a new device, which I think is a mistake. There seem to be enough differences in it to make a separate page, but I guess it's a similar idea to how Samsung had international versions of the Galaxy S I and II.

4. surethom

Posts: 1719; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

This is sony all over maybe the over skinning does not help, my Xperia s battery is shockingly bad, & stutters all over the place.

5. AndroidistheFuture

Posts: 11; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

The battery on my Z1 lasted the whole day with mix usage of light and moderate and standby time is great. goes into deep sleep mode when screen is off. no complains about the battery.

6. Arsen

Posts: 32; Member since: Aug 07, 2013

This to you all SONY BIAS FANS . I'm a Sony fan too but Sony phones with great display eat the battery too much. I got a Xperia S & Z1. I traded Z1 for G2 because I can make 6-7hrs screen on time on LG G2. While my Z1 can't barely reach 3hrs screen on time with moderate - heavy use.

7. Tsepz_GP

Posts: 1176; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

No surprises here at all, it's a well known fact that the Z1 performs poorly in battery compared to even the GS4.

8. MarkArigayo

Posts: 240; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

My G2 sits on the top comfortly. The upcoming G3 will reach at least 8 hours for nonstop usage under heavy load. LG FTW.

10. mottykels

Posts: 387; Member since: May 15, 2013

Oh poor z1.

11. Fluxman

Posts: 51; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

this doesn't seem right. My own test of continuous playback put it around 6.5 hours. It also lasts me a day easily of normal usage. Perhaps a factory reset is required? I have noticed that that fixes some battery issues with phones. Also, over time the battery life gets better.

12. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

it's because of their stupid display. most battery tests show the z1's weakness in video playing and web browsing. this means that horrible display could only be the culprit. see sony there's nothing advantageous in that awful display with terrible viewing angles. add to that you stupid wallpaper! cut that triluminos display crap! your mid-rangers appear to have better batt life because they don't have that stupidity called triluminos that doesn't really bring any benefits.

13. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

and please sony fans stop defending this awful device! you're not helping the company in coming up with something truly competitive.

15. adrialk

Posts: 20; Member since: Sep 04, 2013

Where is the Motorola Droid MAXX battery test ??

17. JerryTime

Posts: 468; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

They posted it in an article not to long ago with DROID RAZR MAXX results. They didn't even do the test IMO. Probably didn't want to see the MAXX upstage the rest of the competition.

18. JerryTime

Posts: 468; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

D@mn, I hope this improves with the Z1S I was planning on switching to T-Mobile and picking one up when it becomes available. :(

19. Pat75014

Posts: 5; Member since: Sep 23, 2013

I own a Z1 since December and I love it big times to be frank. It's my best phone ever and it's beautiful and Very Solid too. This said I agree with these battery measurements. My battery does not last much more than 4H, when really using it with modern apps including using 3G Data or Wifi (poor difference between these 2 x options), and GPS Geoloc typically. Bleuetooth on or off having negligible impact on top of rest. ....But this was a Good News as my previous HTC EVO 3D used the same way was lasting < 1.5h and totally pissing me off. So >4H here was a HUGE LIFE CHANGING improvement for me. Although it sounds lower than compared ugly Phones from Samsung and LG... But what I hate on this Z1 (not mentionned here) are the sort of error messages you get, when the phone is being charged saying that it does not get enough power to charge the battery in addition to running the phone, and you should reduce the usage. I noticed that when this happens, despite it's supposed to be on charge, it discharges even faster than when not charging... as if it was taking ZERO juce from the charger. Only way was to turn the display off an leave it alone for a while so it can recharge. Other issue for me was that moving from std Sony 1A/5W wall USB charger to a new 2A/10W Samsung wall USB charger made # ZERO DIFFERENCE here, never mind I use the GENIUS (optional) Sony magnetic cable, or its optional great DK31 Magnetic Dock, or if I use a standard micro-USB cable. And I tried both Sony std micro-USB and Sumsung one supplied with Samsung 2A/10W charger. In all cases it seams to only use the 2A/10W charger as a 1A/5W only ignoring the extra capability of the charger. Not sure why ? USB2 vs USB3 issue ? Firmware up-date required ? Else ? But this really was a disappointment for me as i though I had found the perfect charger to always charge faster and charge while using it intensively. I dream that SONY could up-date the firmware of the Z1 or something, so it can fully benefit 2A/10W chargers and when using them I NEVER get this message any more.

22. fireblade

Posts: 717; Member since: Dec 27, 2013

TFT consumes a lot of power. So change the display to IPS or amoled

23. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

i disagee with the title. the big battery does help. imagine how awful the battery life would be if they used something smaller. it may not even last an hour.

25. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2265; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

ill just wait for the z1s,and if the battery problem is not solved ,.. then Sony should really do something with their devices.and doesn't happen the next flagship..

26. darknight307rc

Posts: 8; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

Doesn't help?!!! This is the first phone with it I don't worry about the battery life. Without stamina mode it stays on for more than 8 hours with average to intensive usage...& with hard usage it stays for 6 hours...with stamina mode it stays for a whole day. For this big sharp screen, high speed Internet and large processor that is superb...and its really funny when the xperia Z battery stays longer than xperia Z1

27. Ronny666

Posts: 128; Member since: Jun 08, 2013

Not suprised. Saw an online review from singapore months back and found that the Z1 drains more battery than other flagship phones with smaller capacity. The bigger size is just a waste of space.

28. gaynorvader

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 09, 2014

I own this phone and watched around 8 hours of youtube videos over the course of a day without needing to charge. Maybe some Z1s have a problem with their manufacturing? I do leave wifi off as I have all you can eat with my mobile provider.

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