Why iPhones still have better battery life than Android

Although it has been less than half a year from my previous post about battery life comparison between iOS and Android devices, a lot of important devices have been announced and made available in this period of time. Sony Z3, iPhone 6/p, Moto Maxx, to name a few. So I decide to re-check my opinon and see if any changes I should make.

From all those battery life tests I have read from phonearena.com, gsmarena.com and anandtech.com, Sony Z3 and Z3 Mini have the best battery life in Android, and  later Moto Maxx took the first spot. When it comes to iOS, iPhone 6P is the best performer. iPhone 6P even trounced almost all current Android flag devices but Huawei Mate 2 which has a huge 4100 mAH battery. And it’s a sure thing that the Moto Max will beat iPhone 6P. With a whopping 3900 mAh battery at this display size (5.2′), it’s going to rule for a while.

But if you take a look at iPhone 6, then it’s a different story than you might initially think. With a 4.7 HD display, the battery capacity is merely 1810 mAH. The Sony Z3 Mini has a similar display size (4.6′), but a much larger 2600 mAH battery. So it would be fair for iPhone 6 to fall behind.

phone charging

Let me list the major battery saving techs adopted by Android devices here.

1. Bigger, bigger, bigger battery. Moto pioneered the this field. First with its droid maxx at 3300mAh, then droid maxx at 3500 mAh, and finally Droid turbo at 3900 mAh. The LG G2 has a huge 3000 mAh battery too. Sony also pack a 3200 mAh battery for its flagship phone Z2, and 3100 mAh for Z3.
2. Performance throttling. One of the most effective technique would be performance throttling, lower the clock speed, shut a few cores and force all background processes to quite.
3. Panel self refresh cut the refresh rate in half to easy the workload on GPU.
4. Turn the screen into grayscale mode. This is typically done by Samsung.

Even with these power saving technologies however, Apple still triumph Android OEMs in battery life. But why? I think there are a few reasons.

iPhone charging

First of all, Apple is not keen on display resolution. The stupid pixel race is only popular among Android devices as they have to compete with each other, not Apple.

Second, Apple kind of has the best display on their iOS devices. As we all know, display is usually the biggest consumer of power, this is especially true in LCD devices.

Third, Apple has the most energy efficient SOC on the market. Apple designed their SOCs in the balanced way between power consumption and performance. For example, A7, A8, A8X SOC all have very low frequencies. While Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Samsung all target their clock speed up to insanely 2.7G and still fall back on performance. To push frequency you have to push power, so the Apple way does have its benefits.

In the fourth place, Apple has a lot of money and is constantly making a lot of money from iPhone and iPad. One of the benefits of steady profit is that Apple and continue to invest and develop more power efficient SOC and devices. Apple is the first company to ship a 64 bit SOC in their phone using ARMv8 instruction set. And I need to remind that Apple is also the first to move to the 20NM process.

Last but not the least; Apple has control over both the hardware and software. On the other hand, all other Android OEMs have to rely on Google; they just could not make the optimizations they need to save power on their phones on their own.

With all that said, are Android OEMs really nothing in the battery life department? Of course not. At least Samsung and LG leave us user-replaceable back and battery. I am really glad with the battery life on my Galaxy S5 LTE-A broadband with always a backup which gets fully charged in less than 2 hours, lol. If you own an AMOLED phone, by the way, I recommend an all black wallpaper, you will love it.

Posted by Alex Zaah | Category: Phone battery life | Tags:

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