Battery Life

Our battery life tests have also been upgraded for 2016. Our web browsing test was previously shown in the first part of the Galaxy S7 review, and since that time it has been tweaked to the point that we're happy with the workload it puts on devices. We've also migrated to GFXBench's Manhattan test for examining battery life with a heavy GPU workload.

Web Browsing Battery Battery Life 2016 (WiFi)

In our WiFi web browsing test the iPhone SE does quite well. When Apple originally advertised that the SE has better web browsing battery life than the 6s and 6s Plus I saw some confusion from many people, but it's actually not a surprising outcome. The SE is using a much smaller and lower resolution LCD display than the other iPhones, which significantly reduces the total platform power. The boost in battery capacity from the iPhone 5s helps as well. Apple advertises that the SE can last two hours longer on WiFi than the 6s, and in our test it almost meets that target. 

Due to a recent move, I'm still trying to find a place with sufficient signal strength that I can use for LTE battery life testing. Until such a time, I'm unable to post LTE battery life results for the SE. In general you can expect LTE battery life to be a couple hours shorter than on WiFi, and Apple advertises that the SE can last three hours longer on LTE than the 6s, so if they get anywhere close to that then LTE battery life should be quite good.

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 / Metal Battery Life

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 / Metal Final Frame Rate

The 4-inch iPhones have never lasted long in GFXBench's battery test. With the new Manhattan test the GPU is doing a lot more work than it was with T-Rex HD, and there aren't any periods of idle. The iPhone SE achieves the lowest battery lifetime of just 1.46 hours. However, the on screen frame rate during the test is hitting Vsync, which is actually concerning because we moved to Manhattan to avoid the problem of devices hitting that cap and then idling in the middle of the test. As I've said in the past, you need to consider both performance and battery life in this test. The iPhone SE is obviously an improvement over the 5s even though it dies half an hour earlier, because by the end of the test the iPhone SE is giving you 6x the performance of the 5s due to the A7 SoC's greater degree of thermal throttling.

Charge Time

Like the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the iPhone SE ships with Apple's 5W charging block. While this can be quite problematic on a large phone like the iPhone 6s Plus, on a small phone it won't pose as much of an issue as the phone's battery capacity is much lower. Ideally we'd like to see a time to charge that is under three hours, and coming in under two hours is even better.

Charge Time

The iPhone SE charges quite quickly. We've seen improvements to charge time on the iPhone since the era of the iPhone 5s, and with the SE having a smaller battery than the iPhone 6s it makes sense that the charge time would be shorter. I do wonder how long it would take to get to full charge if Apple bundled a 10-15W charger with the phone, although with the current time being under two hours you also need to consider if the potential reduction in battery longevity from quicker charging is worth it.

System Performance Display Analysis


View All Comments

  • Impulses - Monday, May 16, 2016 - link

    Ehh, there's other places you can place a fingerprint sensor and have it be just as effective... The on screen button argument is valid tho, but it's kind of subjective... For video, where they hide away, they're a better choice, for general use it's less advantageous, etc.

    The biggest rationale for a physical home button continues to be that it allows you to easily wake up the phone while it lays flat, IMO... Though tricks like the "knock on" pioneered by LG can offer an alternative to that.

    Let's be honest tho, Apple AND Samsung probably just stick to their guns on the buttons at this point as a sign of pride and/or because it's a recognisable design. They sued the stuffing out of each other in large part over the button and how it ties the design together!
  • name99 - Monday, May 16, 2016 - link

    I suspect the way Apple gets away from the home button (and the area it consumes) is by copying ideas from the Apple Watch.

    IF they can get ultrasound based fingerprint detection to work well (so that it can work anywhere on the screen) that's REALLY helpful in terms of making the various lockscreen swipes work so much better --- right now it's kinda lame that you swipe on a notification or text message or whatever but then have to go through the unlock screen.

    So if they can solve the "no need for a fingerprint button" problem, then, IMHO, the logical way to move forward is to adopt ideas from the Apple Watch. These ideas could include (along with screen lights up on orientation) having a crown sticking out the side of the phone. I don't know how well that would work --- maybe it would be too fragile? --- but it seems like it could be useful in a number of ways, and the sort of UI element that Apple could (at least attempt to) patent the hell out of and fairly aggressively and accurately claim that no-one had done anything like that until they implemented it. If you had a crown like button, apart from the rotating to scroll like on the watch, it could also (like on the watch) act to
    - light up the screen
    - bring up springboard
    - bring up Siri
    - bring up the list of previous apps (on watch, at least right now, just the last app) used.

    Doing something like this would allow the iPhone to kinda reset. Apple could get off the naming treadmill (so like Macs new ones get released when they are ready, and have names like "iPhone late 2018"), and even change other things they might want to change (maybe it's worth actually switching to USB-C?). Like I said, a reset allows for lotsa things to change all at once, and allows the inevitable bitching and "I'll never buy an Apple product again" idiocy to flame out over one glorious three month period of non-stop internet ranting.
  • Ratman6161 - Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - link

    "So if they can solve the "no need for a fingerprint button" problem". Well, on my Galaxy Note 5 fingerprint recognition works great. And it has a button too. And the ratio of overall size to screen size is better too. All it took to do that was to have an oblong button instead of a big round one. What's the big deal. Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, May 16, 2016 - link

    I guess I'll have to hold an SE in my hand to see how they feel relatively speaking. But 12.4 mm Vs 12.7 mm = a difference of .3 mm in height. Same math, .6 mm different width and .13 mm in thickness. From the numbers, its hard for me to visualize there being any significant difference in real world feel. And 4.2 is still > than 4.0, though I guess it all depends on what's important to you.

    To me, overall the form factor seems essentially the same and as with all these endless debates, in the real world it comes down to personal preference.
  • name99 - Monday, May 16, 2016 - link

    I use both (6 vs 5) frequently. The difference in height, and the difference in edge curvature, are both noticeable, but I would not call one worse or better than the other (though I suspect the width of the 6 with hard edges would be noticeably unpleasant).
    For me at least, as a guy with big enough pockets and hands, Apple made the right call with the size of the 6. I remain curious as to whether the primary draw of the SE if the smaller screen size (or, more precisely, the smaller area for pockets and handbags) or the lower price --- I've never seen anything definitive either way.
  • qap - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Thickness stopped being a limiting factor (for users, not for designers) some time ago. Thicker phone can even be more comfortable in hand. So there is no point in comparing volumes.
    That leaves footprint and 10% difference means they are direct competitors. In fact (as an example) I am thinking about buying one of them as they are closest to my ideal phone.
    Iphone SE is perhaps closer, but display and everything about display is really off-putting. You can fit 4,5" in the same footprint. Even 4,3" and it would be in my pocket already (it can be done - you can look at galaxy s4 mini). But 60% screen-to-body in 2016? And by 2016 standards it's not even a good display (low res, poor blacks).
  • Eden-K121D - Monday, May 16, 2016 - link

    They didn't even post a S7 review part-2 which was released much earlier than the iPhone SE yet the SE review comes first.Yawn. It has nothing new. Reply
  • michael2k - Monday, May 16, 2016 - link

    The review they did was sufficient to show you how much faster the SE is than the S7:
  • Impulses - Monday, May 16, 2016 - link

    Different writers tho, IIRC, not that it's an excuse but it's not like they're purposely prioritizing the SE. Reply
  • whiteiphoneproblems - Monday, May 16, 2016 - link

    I love mine! Only (minor) issues are a rattling power button, and a funky auto-brightness that doesn't like turning on to lowest setting in a dark room (never had that problem in an iPhone before). Reply

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