Battery life testing is usually the single most time-consuming part of smartphone reviews at the moment. As noted in the iPhone 5 review, we’ve changed up our battery life test completely based on what we learned from both previous versions and to help get some aspects under control where OEMs were doing aggressive caching even when they weren’t supposed to. The result is this new test which we feel is pretty balanced but still challenging enough to be relevant for a while.

The basic overview is the same as the previous test — we load webpages at a fixed interval until the handset dies, with display set at exactly 200 nits as always. The test is performed over both cellular data and WiFi. The new test has decreased pause time between web page loads and a number of JavaScript-heavy pages. I sat down with some UMTS RRC (Radio Resource Control) emulator tools and also made sure we had a good balance of all the RRC states (DCH, PCH if possible, FACH, IDLE) so we weren’t heavily biased towards one mode or the other. There’s a lot that went into this, but again the pretense is the same.

Since I have the T-Mobile version of the Galaxy Note 2 I couldn’t test LTE battery life. However, T-Mobile runs DC-HSPA+ which is two 5 MHz wide WCDMA carriers aggregated together, so the result is a receive path that looks vaguely similar to 10 MHz FDD-LTE with the same wide LNAs lit up. Of course on the transmit side DC-HSPA+ is still just a single WCDMA carrier for uplink. At the same time as we’ve shown in previous testing the LTE battery life with this new generation of handsets is often better than the equivalent on 3G since the handset can get back into an idle radio resource state quicker for the same workload.

Galaxy Note 2 also has a positively gargantuan battery, at 11.8 watt-hours. This is the largest I’ve seen yet in a smartphone. For comparison the previous Galaxy Note shipped a 9.25 watt-hour battery, and Galaxy S 3 went with around an 8 watt-hour battery. Powering all that display definitely requires the biggest electron tank the design and form factor can possibly afford.

I should also mention that I’m running the previous generation Galaxy Note through the new test, but it isn’t complete in time for the review. I’ll add that data in at a later date as soon as it is complete. The same applies to the call test, which is starting to become an unwieldy test at around 12 hours for most new phones. Update: I've added in WiFi and 3G battery life testing results for the AT&T Galaxy Note. 

Let’s start with WiFi however, where we let the client decide on either 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz depending on its own priority.

AT Smartphone Bench 2013: Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

Galaxy Note 2 does pretty well here considering everything it has to deal with, huge battery and the combination of latest WiFi combo chip silicon (still BCM4334) helps the Note 2 last nearly 8.5 hours. This is longer than even the SGS3 in the same test.

AT Smartphone Bench 2013: Web Browsing Battery Life (3G/4G LTE)

On T-Mobile DC-HSPA+ the Note 2 also does pretty well, it’s in the upper third of our results, still above the SGS3, and among other phones I subjectively consider to have great battery life on cellular like the One X (8960). I suspect if I had been able able to get the Note 2 on AT&T LTE (more on that later) we’d see even better run time thanks again to the race to idle advantage that you get with the faster air interface.

My call test isn’t done, but from the data I have already, I would extrapolate out a 15 hour call run time for the Note 2. Coincidentally this is exactly the specced call time. I’m not making a graph based on extrapolated data though, that’ll have to wait for at least one fully completed run without interruption.

Overall the Note 2 has battery life which isn’t compromised by the presence of fast air interfaces or huge AMOLED display, even at 200 nits which is usually a challenge. In my time with the Galaxy Note 2 out and about I wasn’t want for a charger or top up once, even with Dropbox set to auto upload photos as I captured them which usually nukes devices even with the most impressive of stamina. Again I fully expect that the handset on other carriers with LTE will last even longer than the numbers I managed to get out of the Note 2 on T-Mobile DC-HSPA+.

The Platform and Performance - Exynos 4412 S Pen and Samsung's Take on Android 4.1
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  • HanakoIkezawa - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    I haven't had this problem with my note or with my sister's iphone4s with the Kia soul. have you tried going to the store to see i it defective or tried to see if it fails to work with other cars?

    I do agree that some kind of Bluetooth testing would be nice to see with future reviews
    Reply
  • abhi.12 - Friday, November 09, 2012 - link

    what is the response of galaxy note 2 with other languages like hindi. I am searching for a device in which i can take notes in hindi. Is it responsive enough to write. Reply
  • Random Guy99 - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    That the iPhone 5 is more powerful and has better battery life than the note 2 despite it having a battery 3 times larger and a quad core chip. The A6 must have far superior architecture and you can see how far optimisation goes and googles lack of it. I guess that's the problem that is bound to happen when one company doesn't make both hardware and software. Reply
  • MichaelEvans - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    Just got a new Samsung Galaxy Note 2! Am thrilled!! I have a graphics design salon in New York and use it to doodle ideas while on the go. Then because I'm on AT&T's 4GLTE I send the doodles to myself at home and it’s very cool. Reply
  • anhminh1232002 - Tuesday, January 01, 2013 - link

    Hello everyone

    The G-sensor doesn't seem to work when the screen is off.
    I am using Note 2 Galaxy Samsung.
    I tried Justflip to flip to turn on the screen. The screen wasn't on at all.
    Please tell me if the is a fix for this bug.

    Thank you.
    Reply
  • mgrant - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    S-Note is pretty nice looking, and as you say OneNote is feature rich and you've got lots of content in it which you can get at if you install the OneNote Mobile app on your phone.

    But what about creating notes using the pen in S-Note? Is there some way to say store those notes in a Dropbox and get at them on the laptop? What would you edit them in? So far, about the only thing I've found is that you can export an image (pdf or jpeg) of the S-note note into dropbox and view the static image on your desktop. That's not so useful.

    Is there anything out there that lets one have notes across platforms, that can use the pen, and preferably stores stuff in my existing dropbox account rather than making me pay yet another cloud storage service?

    There's Evernote, but it doesn't work directly with S-Note. You can export a static image into Evernote as a sort of final resting place for the note, but this is unfulfilling at best.
    Reply
  • Amit kumar - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Yeah its amazing device. It is taller, leaner, lighter with shinier packs. I got all statistics about this phone this site as well. www.gadtecho.com Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    How much does it cost? Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    I mean the Galaxy note 2 or 3 Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    My mum does not want to buy 700 euros. So ...
    What should I do? How can I persuade my mum to it? HELP??!! PLEASE REPLY
    Reply

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