The Dell XPS 15 9550 Review: Infinity Edge Lineup Expandsby Brett Howse on March 4, 2016 8:00 AM EST
Battery Life and Charge Time
The XPS 15 is available with two battery sizes. If you opt for the base model, it comes with a 2.5” SATA drive and a 56 Wh battery. If you opt for a device with the M.2 SSD, the extra space taken up by the 2.5” drive is replaced with more battery cells, giving you 84 Wh of capacity. It also adds about 0.5 lbs of weight to the device, but if you are going to be working away from an outlet, the SSD model should give much better battery life.
But, with the high resolution display, and wider color gamut, battery life is going to take a hit compared to something with a more traditional display. Since Dell sent us the UHD model, that’s the one we have to test.
To test battery life we have two tests. The light test involves light web browsing, with the display set to 200 nits brightness. The heavy test increases the pages loaded by the browser, adds a 1 MB/s file download, and includes movie playback. All testing is done with Edge as the browser.
The XPS 15, with its quad-core CPU and high resolution display, can’t keep up with the best devices for battery life, even on light usage. At just under 7.5 hours, it is well under the XPS 13 and Surface Book results, despite the larger battery. It is also below the XPS 15 9530 results, and that device has a 91 Wh battery and 3200x1800 display.
With the extra CPU workload, as well as constant network use, the battery life falls to just 4:23. This is exactly the same as the XPS 15 9530 score, so there is certainly some more efficiency because the display is higher resolution and the battery is slightly smaller on the new 9550 model. It’s still not a great result though.
By removing the battery size from the equation, we can get an overall feel for platform efficiency. The XPS 15, despite the higher resolution display, does outperform the XPS 15 9530 on the heavy results, but the UHD display certainly hurts it compared to other devices. The Surface Book with discrete GPU is over double the efficiency, but with a dual-core processor. The Lenovo Y700 has the same processor and GPU, but a much lower resolution display, and it comes out quite a bit ahead of the XPS 15. For those that are normally plugged in, the UHD display is fantastic, but be warned, it’s a big hit on battery life.
The other side of battery life is how long it takes to charge. With an 84 Wh battery, this is a significant amount of capacity to top up. Luckily Dell ships the XPS 15 with a 130-Watt power adapter.
At 148 minutes, the XPS 15 charges very quickly. At least with the less than stellar battery life, once you do plug it in, it gets back on its feet pretty quickly.
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comomolo - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkI agree with you. It takes little time to make things right. Especially wrong is the picture comparing the size of the XPS 15 to a "regular" 15 incher. They haven't even taken care of a proper shooting point so the comparison is useless.
Kristian Vättö - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkComparing AnandTech to The Verge is not really fair. The Verge has millions of VC funds behind it, which is why they can have professional photographers and editors taking care of the visual side. They can also have a dedicated office, making it easy to pass devices to photographers and others.
AT editors are practically freelancers as everyone works from their home. That means no fancy photo studio with +$10k of gear. Everyone takes their own photos and frankly the quality depends a lot on the equipment one has at hand and how experienced one is. I can speak from experience because I had major struggles with photos during my time at AT. Here's a few examples of the worst and best shots I took:
If you aren't really interested in photography, I can tell you that taking photos is not easy. It's not something you learn overnight. Frankly, taking photos of electronics is even harder because a ton of light is needed, and without proper professional lighting you'll get all sorts of reflections and tints (most house lights are not pure white in my experience, there's a yellow tint to make it "warmer").
All in all, I'm not saying that the photos can't be improve and I'm sure Brett will appreciate any and all tips. I just wanted to explain how AT operates as it's majorly different from The Verge for instance.
nathanddrews - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkNo disrespect to The Verge (and no attempt to brown nose AT), but their reviews are nowhere near the level of AT. It's such a massive divide as to be comical.
If we're going to get picky about photography skills and not discuss the actual product, many of those linked Verge photos appear to be out of focus and the lightboxes used aren't exactly top of the line, so between the two reviews, I would say AT wins hands down.
To each his own, then?
pikatung - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkProbably the best photography I've seen on a tech review site, done on a budget, is from TechReport. They even made a (couple) of blog posts detailing how they do it:
(Loyal Reader of AnandTech and TechReport for years)
pikatung - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkAnd just to show how good shots can be done on a budget:
And I apologize, I don't mean to be whiny. I really do appreciate the in-depth reviews that you all do. Just hopefully some of these links will be helpful and encouraging.
Brett Howse - Monday, March 7, 2016 - linkAlways appreciate tips and feedback. Thanks a lot! I'll check this out.
Refuge - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkI don't come here for the photos, I come here for the raw, cold, hard data.
If I want glam shots before I put it in my office, then i'll google around. If I want an in depth, and educational review, I come to Anand.
Solandri - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkAnd hopefully that raw, cold, hard data has been transcribed correctly? The photos aren't merely glamour shots. They can give you detailed information about layouts, colors, fonts, etc. A lot of times it's easier to just look at the pictures to see what ports a laptop has, rather than read a list of ports and *hope* they got it right. Other qualities like keyboard layout, trackpad size position relative to keyboard, size of Fn and arrow keys, etc. are much better conveyed via (undistorted) photos rather than a written description.
Yeah you can waste time searching for pictures elsewhere. That doesn't mean the site can't be improved by including decent pictures here. (And the problems I see aren't only distortion. Several of the photos are just plain blurry. If you can afford a $800 camera, you can afford a $100 tripod.)
Zap - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkOne possible workaround for objects closer to 2D such as those SSDs are to just put them on a flatbed scanner. No distortion and super clear images.
euskalzabe - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkHere's a couple dead easy tips that improve electronics photography: 1) click the distortion correction checkbox on Photoshop or activate it in-camera. 2) Use bounce flash: if they can't spend lots of money on a decent flash, just use the regular one from camera, take business card, wrap it in tinfoil and place it in front of the flash at 45 degrees. That will bounce the forward light up at 90 degrees, effectively giving you a DIY bounce flash (there's tons of tutorials online).
No need for professional photographers or tons of money. Just attention to detail and being a bit handy with DIY techniques. It's really not hard/costly, at all. I still appreciate the great analysis in AT... but I hold them to a higher standard, which shouldn't be regarded as a bad thing. I want them to be better at everything and succeed further in the future.