After reviewing dozens of smartphones and a few not-so-smart ones, I’ve settled on a couple of standard battery tests. To see how long the device will hang on in a best-case scenario, I’ll set it to check a couple of e-mail accounts, Facebook and Twitter (with WiFi and Bluetooth on but not connected), then let it sit on a desk and see what percent of its battery is left after 24 hours. To subject it to a far-less-forgiving trial, I will then play streaming audio through the Pandora app (with the same wireless settings and background apps active) and force the screen set to stay illuminated full-time.
I’ll note these figures in individual reviews, but as they pile up it gets harder to check back to see how a phone compares to its cohorts. That’s where this post comes in: It lists battery-life results from prior reviews and some post-publication tests, and I’ll update it each time I review a new phone. The same goes for tablet battery data, which you can see after the jump.
Keep in mind a few caveats: In some cases, especially with the oldest reviews, I may have departed slightly from the testing routines described above. Some of these figures are also approximations, on account of my not having kept whatever notes had exact times. And you could be looking at the occasional fluke result here.
Apple iPhone 4, AT&T: 95%, 6:21
Apple iPhone 4, Verizon: 93%, 6:20
Apple iPhone 5, Verizon (LTE): 85%, 7:44
Google Nexus S, T-Mobile: 47%, 7:22
HTC 8XT, Sprint (LTE): 33%, 4:34. (PCMag.com also tests talk time; this one ran 10:32.)
HTC Evo 4G LTE, Sprint (3G only): 85%, 8:26
HTC Evo Shift, Sprint (WiMax): 66%, 77% with WiMax off
HTC First, AT&T (LTE): 65%, 7:07
HTC Inspire, AT&T: 88%
HTC ThunderBolt, Verizon (LTE): 57%, 4:20
Kyocera Hydro Edge, Boost: 70%, 4:52. 9:14 talk time.
LG Nexus 4, T-Mobile: 54%, 5:03
LG Nitro HD, AT&T (LTE): 64%, 4:31
LG Optimus F3, T-Mobile (LTE): 91%, but service on loaner model’s SIM was shut off before I could finish a Web-radio test. 14:30 talk time.
LG Optimus F6, T-Mobile (LTE): 91%, 10:38, 15:03 talk time.
Motorola Droid 2, Verizon: 80%, “six and a half hours”
Motorola Droid Bionic, Verizon (LTE): 70%, 4:45
NEC Terrain, AT&T (LTE): 68%, 5:34. 9:49 talk time.
Nokia Lumia 520, AT&T: 89%, 7:16, 11:00 talk time
Nokia Lumia 900, AT&T (LTE): 71%, 4:45 (this Web-radio test was done with the Slacker Radio app, since there was no Pandora app for Windows Phone 7; in a second try, it only lasted 4:05)
Samsung Ativ S Neo, Sprint (LTE): 92%, 8:58. 12:52 talk time.
Samsung Epic 4G, Sprint (WiMax): 74%; with WiMax off, 73%, “slightly less than five hours”
Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Verizon (LTE): With WiFi on, ran out in just under 11 hours, allowed 3:56 of Pandora playback; with WiFi off, 59%, 4:04
Samsung Galaxy Note, AT&T (LTE): 37%, 6:14 (I don’t know how that would be possible on a screen with a 5.3-in. screen, but there you have it)
Samsung Galaxy Note II, AT&T (LTE): 82%, 10:19
Samsung Galaxy S, T-Mobile: 88%
Samsung Galaxy S II, AT&T: 73%, 7:05
Samsung Galaxy S III, T-Mobile: 83%, 6:37
Samsung Galaxy S 4, Sprint: 78%, 7:24
Bonus: Tablet coverage!
Amazon Kindle Fire (WiFi): 95%, 7:14
Amazon Kindle Fire HD (WiFi): 96%, 10:27, 9:23 (I don’t know what would explain that variation, but there it is anyway)
Apple iPad 2 (WiFi): 98%, 11:51
Apple iPad (2012 model, LTE): 98% (AT&T LTE), 11:17 (Verizon LTE)
Apple iPad mini (WiFi): 95%, 11:53
Asus/Google Nexus 7: 100%, 9:40 (In a second standby test after installing Google’s Android 4.1.1 update, it read 92%, which seems a tad more plausible)
Asus/Google Nexus 7 2013 edition: 94%, 17:16. (A second Web-radio test yielded a mere 15:27, still better than anything else listed here.)
Barnes & Noble NookColor (WiFi): didn’t test standby life, “about five hours”
Samsung Galaxy Tab (3G): didn’t test standby life, ”just under 2 1/2 hours”
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (WiFi): 86%, 9:30
Vizio Tablet (WiFi): 62%, “some 6 hours”