Battery life is hugely important, and in the case of the SGS3 USA variants the question is just how long you can go with the combination of even beefier air interfaces like LTE and DC-HSPA+, an even larger 4.8" display, and dual core 28nm MSM8960. The SGS3 includes a very large 7.98 watt-hour battery with a higher 3.8V nominal chemistry (2100 mAh * 3.8 V = 7.98 watt hours).

Battery Capacity

I spent a big part of my limited time with the SGS3s battery life testing, and turned to our Smartphone 2011 suite of battery life tests which I’ve described in detail before. The web browsing tests consist of a few dozen pages which are loaded every 10 seconds with the display set at precisely 200 nits (using a meter) until the phone dies - this is done over WiFi and cellular data. The tethering test consists of a single client notebook attached to the device using its onboard WiFi hotspot function, and four tabs of our page load test alongside a 128 kbps streaming MP3 station are loaded on that notebook until the phone dies.

I was supplied the AT&T and T-Mobile SGS3s, which differ in air interface and band support. The T-Mobile version is on the carrier’s DC-HSPA+ network for testing, and the AT&T version supports both HSPA+ (single carrier) and LTE. Unfortunately AT&T LTE is not lit up in my Tucson, AZ market yet (which would make my life so much easier), so I could only run the 3G WCDMA result. 4G LTE results from that particular device will come shortly and I’ll update appropriately.

Web Browsing (Cellular 3G - EVDO or WCDMA)

Immediately we can see that the combination of MSM8960 and Samsung’s big battery really pay off for the SGS3. Both the T-Mobile and AT&T versions (on DC-HSPA+ 42.2 and HSPA+ 14.4, respectively) post impressive numbers around 8 hours. This is with the display set at 200 nits in the browser, which is one tick short of all the way to maximum on the SGS3. Samsung has included a ton of battery saving display analysis features in the SGS3 browser, which were turned off for this test. Obviously if you turn those on (I would) you’ll be able to push battery life even further. It is shocking how close we come to the previously untouchable iPhone 4S.

As soon as I get the AT&T LTE numbers (I have to travel to an AT&T LTE market and carry out the test there) I’ll update with that graph here.

Web Browsing (WiFi)

Next up is the WiFi battery life test, which posts numbers right around where the 3G cellular test was. You might be wondering why this is since the SGS3 includes an even lower power WiFi stack (BCM4334 even in the Krait-based USA variants). The result indicates to me that we’re almost entirely dominated by display power draw here. If we ran with a lower brightness, I expect you’d see WiFi longevity pull in front of cellular like you’d expect.

Cellular Talk Time

Cellular talk time is starting to get so long that it’s hard to test - I essentially lost an entire day of playing with the AT&T SGS3 to running a call time battery life test. This is a good problem to have, though I’m surprised it didn’t go just a bit longer and match or beat the One X AT&T result.

WiFi Hotspot Battery Life (3G)

The 3G hotspot test really tells what things are like with the display turned off. Quite honestly I’m surprised the SGS3 doesn’t do much better here – it’s possible there’s room for further optimization of the WiFi hotspot mode on SGS3. Likewise, I’ll update with 4G LTE numbers for the AT&T model as soon as I’m in an area where it’s lit up and I can burn a few hours testing.

Overall, in my time with the SGS3 I would subjectively describe battery life as above average. With AMOLED, 200 nits is actually pretty bright, and you see Samsung and other OEMs clamping display brightness well below the physical limits to both save power and prevent burn-in.

Obviously the other interesting question is how the SGS3 fares on its battery saving mode with the CPU clock capped at 1.0 GHz. That’s also next in line for testing.

Software - Android 4.0.4, TouchWiz, S Beam and S Voice Performance Analysis
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  • shaolin95 - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    As much as I loved my Captivate and thought the GS2 was a nice upgrade , the GS3 is a let down (the USA version that is).
    Say what you want about the dual core being close to the quad but I can score higher Browsermark with my Galaxy Note international (@1.6ghz) than the GS3 USA version. And the real killer is the older GPU.
    I am going to wait for Note 2...likely international version as well if they keep messing things up.
    Reply
  • BioHazardous - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    It seems like it fails to impress in almost all tests, particularly battery life and WiFi performance. I wish the article was a little more critical of its shortcomings. The battery life is even less impressive when you consider it has a larger battery than the HTC One X.

    The only thing it really seems to have going for it vs the HTC One X is the microSD slot and removable battery.

    When will the test results be added to the Bench?
    Reply
  • IKeelU - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    ...for HTC. The SGS3 looks like a fantastic phone, but the benchmarks, camera, and battery tests all show one or more "One" variants slightly besting the SGS3.

    Both companies have done a great job, but I think my money will go towards HTC this time around. Specifically the One S. Thanks to its lower (but still great) resolution it's really killing those games benchmarks.
    Reply
  • Mbonus - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    I am very surprised that the SGIII was lagging in almost every benchmark to the HTC variants. My speculation is that Touchwiz must be incredibly invasive over the current version of Sense.

    One thing that needs to be tested is the multitasking. The HTC units have been reported to be very aggressive with killing background apps and some have speculated that this is how they are saving battery. It would be interesting to see how GSIII is handling multitasking.
    Reply
  • redeemer777 - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    Why are you so suprised? Both have the same chipsets which mean HTC has imposed better optimizations. This is Android guys root your phone, if you're not happy. Reply
  • Mbonus - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    I'm most surprised in the battery department because of the physically larger battery of the SGS3. Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    People shouldn't have to root their devices to fix some of the silly memory tweaks HTC did, and yes, their memory optimizations are currently too aggressive. Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    I doubt dumping apps off memory to make more breathing room for Sense or whatever would help much with idle battery, it's not like you stop powering the memory either way. Reply
  • metafor - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    One thing to keep in mind is that Samsung likely spends a lot more time tuning their software stack for their Exynos processors than they do for others. Whereas HTC pretty much starts out with Qualcomm chips.

    That being said, considering they are launching all of their US GS3's based on the S4, I'm surprised it didn't get their ultra-fast browser that we saw in the international GS3 preview.
    Reply
  • patycake57 - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    I,too, would appreciate knowing about the multitasking and how it compares with the One X. I bought the HOX (ATT) based on excellent reviews from many sites including this one, and have become more and more frustrated with the poor multitasking. Depending on your apps and pattern of usage, this may not bother you, but I cannot recommend the HOX to most that read AT (e.g. power users).

    I would very much like to see a first rate technical site like AT address multitasking, because for some, it can really alter the user experience beyond the technical specs/testing. Also, I think changes like this should be clearly disclosed by phone manufacturers, because if I would have known about this, I would not have purchased the HOX and waited for the SG3 or next Nexus phone. At this time, I'm not aware of a non-root fix, and HTC has not acknowledged it as a bug.
    Reply

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