Battery Life

I published some initial results about the iPhone 3G’s battery life here, but now it’s time for a full analysis of what the phone can do.

Initial tear-down reports show that Apple switched to a removable battery with the iPhone 3G, removable in the sense that it isn’t soldered to anything inside the case, but still requires that you take apart your iPhone to get to it. Not having a removable battery wasn’t really an issue for me with the first iPhone since I tend to go through phones quicker than their batteries stop holding a charge. Granted even if you don’t keep your phones for that long, it would be nice to be able to swap in a new battery if you’re running low - especially with how much power the 3G modem gobbles up.

The first question about the iPhone 3G is its talk time when 3G is enabled. Most users won’t want to keep switching 3G on and off and I suspect that many will just leave it enabled, so what will that do to talk time? To test this I played music back on a notebook through some headphones placed right at the mic on the iPhone 3G. The phone was flipped over on a table to trigger its sensor and shut off the display, thus simulating a real call. I called my Vonage deskline from the iPhone and got to listen to 50 Cent play over and over again for hours, a homage to what I did last year with the first iPhone.

Battery Life Test - Talk Time

Battery life with 3G enabled was 4 hours and 44 minutes, down from nearly 6 hours when I tested the original iPhone. Turning off the 3G modem and switching to Edge, my call time went up to 6 hours and 4 minutes, about where it should be based on my original iPhone test results. With less than 5 hours of talk time, if you plan on doing a lot of talking you had better shut off 3G mode on the iPhone.

Unfortunately Apple doesn’t make turning 3G on/off as easy as silencing your phone. It takes three taps to get to the menu where you can enable/disable 3G from the home screen, another tap to change the setting and one more tap to get back home. It’s not terrible, but it’s definitely not the most easily accessible thing in the world.

Note that this is far less than the 10 hours of talk time that Apple claims on the iPhone 3G’s spec sheet, and also keep in mind that this is the best case scenario. My voice test just involves the phone sitting in one location with music playing through the mic. Battery life could go down significantly if you were using the phone in an area with lower signal strength or if you were constantly hopping between cell towers.

To test web browsing I ran the same script I did for the iPhone follow-up article I wrote last year: (note that you shouldn't compare results between the original iPhone review and today's, it looks like changes AT&T has made in my area have changed signal strength considerably).

Our web browsing test is slightly different from what we ran in the iPhone review. We used a total of 7 web pages, but of much larger sizes than our first test. The first page was simply a counter page, the second was our review of the Core 2 Duo E6750, followed by our article on AMD's Phenom introduction, an excerpt from our Quad FX article, our entire iPhone review, an article on Intel's Turbo Memory and our entire AMD Radeon 2900 XT review.

Each page was loaded by the browser and was set to forward to the next page (in the above order) after 10 seconds; the iPhone’s brightness was set to approximately 50%. All backlight timers were disabled. Bluetooth was enabled but not paired to any devices.

Battery Life Test - Web Browsing

WiFi continues to take the cake at 6 hours and 40 minutes of total usage, which as we found out last year is what we should expect. Next up is performance on Edge, with the new iPhone lasting just over 4 hours. And finally we have 3G browsing performance: our battery was dead in 3 hours and 17 minutes.

Combine web browsing, email and voice and you’ll find that the iPhone 3G, in 3G mode, will burn through your battery in a matter of a few hours. The speed of 3G is nice, but the battery life suffers tremendously - pack an extra charger.

3G Performance GPS.........kinda
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  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    Yes 3 articles on Iphone. Sad, pretty sad change of course for the site.

    When can we expect to see a preview, review, and feature set of the Ford Escort, or Bud Light with Lime? I await with anticipation!
    Reply
  • michael2k - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Like it or not, the iPhone is hardware.

    AnandTech is run by Anand, and whatever strikes his fancy (be they MacBook Airs or iPhones) gets reviewed.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Monday, July 21, 2008 - link

    "Like it or not, the iPhone is hardware.

    AnandTech is run by Anand, and whatever strikes his fancy (be they MacBook Airs or iPhones) gets reviewed. "

    Yes its hardware, so is a toaster..I away his review on the latest model toasters that come out, as well as the top of the line flashlights... i rest my case.
    Reply
  • robinthakur - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Its sad that you aren't realistic enough to know that currently lots of people are looking for a decent and unbiased iPhone 3G review, and Anandtech (A technology site I recall) offers a very good and highly technical review, the best I've seen. Where's the issue there? Are you annoyed that the iPhone is again in great demand and in the news? Its hardly the iPhone's fault that the HTC *fill in this weeks model* garners about as much press attention as a comeback by Kelly Clarkson, its fundamentally outdated and playing catchup to the new kid on the block. Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    You really need to roll over and die. Reply
  • at80eighty - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    you ungrateful morons don't seem to get a simple fact. this site is FREE

    Anand & Co. owe you nothing & yet they keep putting up good/great articles

    Lately all i see is whine & cheese about how anandtech has lost its hardware focus , while commenting in 'the third' article of hardware

    more often than not this is a one stop place for getting your info. don't like it , don't click.

    and im not a mindless fanboy - someone here was recently criticizing the AT staff over something , but he made clear , precise & constructive points why he felt so - and thats a good way to go about it. your stale WAAWAAWAA is just a stupid annoyance
    Reply
  • Dennis Travis - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    VERY well said. Almost the exact words I was thinking.

    Keep up the EXCELLENT work Anand and Staff!
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    What he said, roll over and die. Reply
  • Brianoes - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    What are you talking about? I think that Anand's article provides one of the, no, the clearest and most consise iPhone article, and I'm done hunting for them to learn some more random details that I may have been interested in. His conclusion was not the standard three paragraph garbage you see on most other review sites - thanks for the really in depth final conclusion and summary.

    The first and last good iPhone review I've read, coming from an iPod Touch user for the past three months.

    Brian
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    What am i talking about? I guess you are oblivious to the fact that the iphone is a niche market. Like every smart phone out there. Yet they review a iphone and no other phone? You know why they don't review others phones..because there are millions of sites that do that all the time.

    Stick with actually HARDWARE analysis like next to Anandtech on top of page. Leave the phones/cars/apple related stuff/ game reviews, etc to other sites who do it 24/7.

    Reply

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