Battery Life

Obviously, battery life is one of the most important aspects of any smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device shipping today. The main point of interest for a lot of people seems to be battery life as even though we’re approaching what might be considered a full day of use a lot of people seem to need quite a bit more as battery life demands can vary dramatically from day to day. If you sit in an office for much of your day with the phone next to a charger then battery life demands are going to be relatively light but if you have to deal with a 12 hour flight with a 2 hour wait for a transfer before another 4 hour flight then you’re probably going to find that most devices are not going to have the ability to get you through a full “day” if your day of use involves 9 hours of usage between movies, games, web browsing, and other data synchronization tasks. This is obviously an extreme case but if you’ve ever done a trans-pacific flight this isn’t that far-fetched if you can’t fall asleep for at least 10 hours of the ~16 hour flight.

In order to try and test this properly then we turn to our 2016 suite of benchmarks which allow for proper characterization of battery life in fairly realistic workloads. In order to make for useful relative comparisons we disable all background tasks and set the display for all devices to 200 nits on a blank white screen for all tests. In the case of the Galaxy Note7 due to its similarity to the Galaxy S7 edge we’ve elected to run a compressed version of our suite although if time permits we’ll be adding additional results and commentary.

Web Browsing Battery Life 2016 (WiFi)

With that said we can start with the WiFi test which shows about an 8% drop for the Note7 relative to the Galaxy S7 edge. This might be surprising to some but given that the display area of the Note7 is 7% larger and the battery is about 3% smaller it’s not all that surprising as I wouldn’t be surprised if literally everything but display has identical power consumption on the Galaxy Note7.

Web Browsing Battery Life 2016 (LTE)

While the WiFi test result is pretty much in line with expectation the LTE test result is visibly different and somewhat surprising to see. It’s tempting to explain the relative difference change away as a function of Verizon and T-Mobile LTE differences but reception was fairly comparable across both test units and both were tested on LTE. Given that the Note7 has 4x4 MIMO for cellular connectivity I suspect that there are some RF front-end changes that distinguish the Note7 from the S7 edge but the RF front-end is only visible to the modem rather than the overall system so unless the modem itself can be accessed I suspect the most viable method of figuring out the changes here will be a device teardown which isn’t in the scope of this review.

PCMark - Work Battery Life

The next point of interest is going to be PCMark which shows how close the Galaxy S7 edge and Note7 are in WiFi and CPU bound tasks as they last basically an identical amount of time and have fairly comparable performance if you get both on the same version of software. Due to time constraints I would refer back to the Galaxy S7 Part 2 Review if you are interested in seeing what heavy workload battery life is like, but overall the Galaxy Note7 keeps fairly good battery life even if it isn't as great as the Galaxy S7 edge.

Charge Time

Of course, while battery life is critical we need to also talk about the other side of the equation which is how quickly it can charge. After all, if you’re stuck in an airport waiting for your connection and burn off most of your battery in the process, it’s going to be fairly painful conserving battery until you get to your destination because your phone can’t charge quickly enough to compensate for additional usage. In order to test something like this, we rely on measurements from the wall and waiting until the power draw from the wall reaches a specified level that indicates full charge has been reached. In the case of the Galaxy Note7, the charger uses QC 2.0 or Samsung’s adaptive fast charge technology depending upon the AC adapter you’re using, and internally the battery charger IC is a TI BQ25898S which contains a buck converter that can take a 9V or 12V input and step it down to the appropriate voltage for the battery with supports for current up to four amps at roughly 90% efficiency.

Charge Time

Looking at the overall charge time the Galaxy Note7 performs respectably as it reaches full charge in under two hours and takes basically as much time as the Galaxy S7 edge, which is probably not a surprise given their similar battery capacities. For the most part I think we’ve hit an upper bound here as far as charge time goes. The real challenge now is to focus on reducing the heat output and impact to battery longevity that these fast charging solutions have similar to OnePlus’ Dash Charge and Qnovo’s Adaptive Charging technologies.

Display System Performance
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  • KoolAidMan1 - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    Apple is also responsible for Android's abysmal security and its impending botnet apocalypse.

    #illuminati
    Reply
  • Bluetooth - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    iPhone is twice as fast with the Google Octane benchmark which is the closest to real world usage. I didn't know that Google was optimising their benchmark to make iOS phones leave Android in the dust. Reply
  • trparky - Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - link

    Yeah, I was looking at some of the benchmark numbers and the first thing that came to my mind was "Apple is killing them here, they're just killing them!"

    This is supposed to be the latest and greatest CPU/GPU combination and yet Apple's year old CPU/GPU combination is wiping the floor with Samsung's new phone. Not only is Apple killing them in the browser benchmarks but also in Basemark tests as well. If I was a Samsung fan boy I would be asking why the hell a year old device (iPhone 6s) is seemingly faster than my latest and greatest flagship device.

    Now, a number of users are saying that may be because of the CPU governor that Samsung chose to use as the default CPU governor so as to improve overall battery life but as we can see in some of the benchmarks, Apple is killing them yet the iPhone doesn't at all have issues with battery life. So again, why is Apple killing them with a year old device?

    God, if the benchmarks look this ugly when compared to the year old iPhone 6s I can't imagine how bad it's going to be when compared to the new chip Apple is going to have in the new iPhone 7 (or whatever it's going to be called). If I had to hazard a guess, it's going to be an absolute bloodbath.
    Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Thursday, August 18, 2016 - link

    Everyone should know by now that in single threaded use apple is miles ahead of any android vendors, period. Same with storage performance. Multicore performance, which thankfully is a little more important on Android than on iOS, is better with exynos and friends but that is only a little consolation. Reply
  • Psyside - Sunday, August 21, 2016 - link

    That is pure BS, i got the 8890 S7 and its utterly fantastic and uber fast. Reply
  • jlabelle2 - Monday, August 22, 2016 - link

    Still, it is a little bit sad that, as an iPhone user myself (corporate phone as I am using a Windows phone as a private own), it is now the only thing Apple fans can really brag about. Especially considering that it does not offer any appreciable benefit as most modern flagships are anyway in all practical purpose quick enough for what we are using them.
    Apple can continue to push this CPU race, we just reached a point of diminish return and this is really not what mobile phone needs now.
    People needs smaller phone for a given screen size (iPhone has huge bezel and the Note 7 is a marvel on this regard), they need more battery life and/or better or quicker way to charge (quick charging, wireless charging), they need screen readable outdoor with good contrast (iPhone is good outdoor but contrast is not up to OLED level), they need to be able to perform tasks quicker (camera hardware button, back button, NFC, ...), they need to be able to use their phone with one hand (not having the back link or all the buttons on top like on iOS), they need to be able to take the best pictures possible because this is the camera they are wearing (Apple is still really pushing the envelope with refusing to put a decent camera size sensor in their phone for whatever sake of thinness)...
    Let's be frank, I do not know one single person with a big of brain and common sense that would choose an iPhone versus another Snapdragon 820 or Exynote xxx just for the sake of difference of single thread CPU speed. That is just NOT an argument that register in any meaningful way these days to normal people.
    Reply
  • grayson_carr - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    How would that help? Even the Exynos S7 doesn't run as smooth as the Moto Z, which is pushing just as many pixels and has s Snapdragon 820. There are two issues, neither of which is the fault of the SD820. First, Samsung phones are bloated with a ridiculous number of features and background services running, which requires more processing power than something running a cleaner build of Android like the Moto Z or a Nexus. Second, because of the extra overhead caused by their software, Samsung has to limit the performance of their chips (both Exynos and Snapdragon) via kernel / governor configuration in order to get good battery life. Samsung could easily tweak the SD820 so that the Note 7 ran perfectly smooth and hardly ever dropped frames. The SD820 is easily capable of that. But if they did that, then the Note 7 would get below average battery life. It's all about priorities. Samsung is betting that their users will prefer good battery life and some minor stuttering here and there over below average battery life and a perfectly smooth UI. I mean, yes, the Exynos is more efficient than the SD820 so they didn't have to limit its performance quite as much to achieve good battery life, but even the Exynos is performing far below it's potential because of Samsung's heavy software and desire for good battery life. The fact that the Moto Z runs smoother than even the Exynos S7 is proof. Reply
  • mrochester - Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - link

    Why can't we have both like the iPhone? Too many compromises. Reply
  • Psyside - Sunday, August 21, 2016 - link

    NVMe storage, the A9 is far bellow 8890, the storage is the key. Reply
  • trparky - Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - link

    But that doesn't explain why the iPhone 6s appears to be wiping the floor with this device and yet iPhone 6s users often enjoy some of the best battery life numbers in the industry.

    Again, as I said above... If I was a Samsung fan boy I would be asking why the hell a year old device (iPhone 6s) is seemingly faster than my latest and greatest flagship device.
    Reply

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