Smartphone battery life may be on the decline due to the increasing demands new technologies place on lithium-ion batteries, according to smartphone testing done by The Washington Post.
In a series of battery life test conducted by The Washington Post showed that newer smartphones were not able to last as long as older devices on a single charge. The testing involved multiple smartphone models from the past two years and to keep things fair, all phones were set at the same brightness and were tested using the same sites.
When it comes to the iPhone, for example, the iPhone XS died an average of 21 minutes earlier than the previous-generation (2017) iPhone X. However the most notable battery decline was with the Google Pixel 3, which lasted an hour and a half less than its predecessor, the Pixel 2.
According to The Washington Post, the iPhone XR, which uses an LCD instead of an OLED display, was a notable exception, performing well on the battery life tests. The iPhone XR boasts the longest battery life of any iPhone with 25 hours of talk time, 15 hours of internet use, 16 hours of video playback, and 65 hours of audio playback. This model beat out three other devices on the list: the Pixel 3XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and the iPhone XS Max. It is worth noting that the iPhone XR has received rave reviews since its release and has been described as “the best phone that Apple has ever made,” by some critics.
The Washington Post comments that they would recommend the iPhone XR to anyone looking to upgrade and is a fan of iOS simply because the phone has a different approach to usability. “It scales back on the screen tech — lower resulution, less bright and lower-quality color — in ways that benefit battery life tremendously: The XR lasted 3 hours longer than the top iPhone XS, even though the screen is actually a smidge larger,” The Washington Post said. They also point out that the iPhone XR has a bonus incentive of costing $250 less than its release mate, the iPhone XS.
The Washington Post consulted with other tech sites like Tom’s Guide and CNET, and came to the conclusion that high-resolution OLED displays and cellular connectivity are major factors that impact battery life.
Turning down display brightness and using WiFi when possible, two well-known techniques for preserving battery life, are among the site’s recommendations for squeezing out the most battery life on these devices.
The Washington Post’s battery life test focused on the display, but other battery life tests, such as one conducted by Consumer Reports using a machine that opens up apps, had different results, with the iPhone XS beating the iPhone X due to improvements Apple has made with the processor.
Variations in battery life due to different tests and different real-life usage situations can make it difficult to tell whether overall battery life is increasing or decreasing over time, says the site.
Battery company Onavo’s CEO believes that consumers should “start getting ready for compromise,” settling for smartphones with increasingly bigger batteries that result in larger, heavier devices or lesser technologies like the LCD display in the iPhone XR.