Battery Life: Good (60Hz) to Average (120Hz)

Last week we had published our initial battery life report on the S20 series, with some interesting findings. First of all, what needs to be mentioned again is that the new 120Hz display modes on the phones come with a quite large battery life impact. The behavior is exhibited on all our S20 models at hand and I think it’s likely due to the panel itself or the DDIC. Samsung had included various display refresh modes varying from 48, 60, 96 and 120Hz, however we have yet to find evidence of any mechanism that actively switches between the various modes. 

Device-On Black Screen Power Consumption (Airplane Mode)

As such, even on a black static screen, running at 120Hz comes with a quite steep power penalty that’s always present whenever the display is on, costing around 160mW of power.

I had noted that I found our variant of the Snapdragon 865 Galaxy S20 Ultra to have worse idle power than our Exynos phone version. Initially I had attributed this to possibly the SoC or even the nature of the external X55 modem, but since then I’ve also received an LG V60 and that device’s idle power is perfectly normal. The only other thing that differentiates our S20 Ultra here is the fact that it has the extra mmWave antennas and RF systems. It would be interesting to see if non-mmWave variants of the Snapdragon S20 Ultra behave any differently (Tip at our Chinese or Korean readers).

I also had made mention that the “Performance” mode of the Exynos S20 phones seemingly behaved quite overzealously in terms of its scheduling settings, and there was a quite drastic increase in power draw for what was not nearly an as drastic increase in performance. I’ve rerun the battery tests in the “Optimized” settings which doesn’t have the “Increased system speed” option enabled, and I’ve confirmed my suspicion as the battery life figures did improve by some notable amounts. I’ve also tested the Snapdragon in the “Optimized” setting and the runtimes only differed by 2% - for users having the Snapdragon versions it’s thus safe to simply leave that enabled.

Web Browsing Battery Life 2016 (WiFi)

In our web test, the new S20 series end up right about where you’d expect them to. The Snapdragon 865 Galaxy S20 Ultra at 60Hz fares the best amongst the tested models, and now represents Samsung’s longest lasting flagship device. Slightly behind it we find the Exynos S20 Ultra at 60Hz. The difference between the two phones here isn’t very big in this test, and I attribute this to the higher constant idle power draw of the Snapdragon phone which counteracts the much higher compute efficiency of the SoC. The Eyxnos S20+ ends up slightly behind the S10+ phones, but still lasts a good 12.65h in this test.

Once we turn on the 120Hz display modes, the battery life results on all the phones drops quite notably. The Snapdragon S20 Ultra goes from 14h to 11.3h, a 20% drop. The same applies to the Exynos S20 Ultra, with a 20% drop, but for some reason the S20+ sees a larger drop of 25%. In the systems performance section I did mention that there’s some software configuration differences between the Exynos S20 Ultra and S20+, maybe some of that plays part here in the results.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Battery Life

Overall, the conclusion on battery life isn’t quite as black & white as we thought it would be. The key point is to stay away from the seemingly broken Performance mode on the Exynos chipset and you’ll have roughly similar battery life results between the two SoC variants of the S20. Naturally, that’s only being achieved by the fact that the Exynos does showcase worse performance, saving energy by using the more efficient lower performance states more.

What’s valid for all variants of the phones is that the 120Hz display mode is quite the power hog. Samsung probably has the opportunity to improve this by introducing a better managed variable refresh rate mode that actually changes between the different refresh rates based on content, something that seemingly isn’t happening right now. Also switching to lower refresh rates when showcasing static content would be a huge power saver, but I’m not sure if Samsung would be able to actually deploy such a mechanism.

Display Measurement Camera Architecture: Huge New Sensors
POST A COMMENT

137 Comments

View All Comments

  • s.yu - Friday, April 3, 2020 - link

    Not just economy of scale, 5G has higher material cost even if cost per unit is the same, for example you easily need over a dozen antennas in a handset. Massive parallelism is fundamental for 5G. Reply
  • Peskarik - Friday, April 3, 2020 - link

    Swiss watch industry consisted of a large number of small firms that bought in parts from China but marketed at premium price. These will not survive. Rolex/AP/Patek have queues years long, now they also stopped production, there is no excess supply, demand is still there just a bit dormant, especially Asian demand. They will be fine. Omega / Longines will survive due to lower price and high numbers produced. IMHO Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Friday, April 3, 2020 - link

    "Swiss watch industry consisted of a large number of small firms that bought in parts from China but marketed at premium price."

    actually, most are required, by law, to buy Swiss. at least horological parts. of those brands, most are either owned by Swatch or buy movements (more or less complete) from Swatch. a few years ago the Swiss government, after Swatch had bought up ETA and other movement suppliers, allowed Swatch to cease supplying movements to the trade. rather a big stink ensued. last I checked, Swatch had in fact cease supplying.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, April 23, 2020 - link

    It baffles me that you used a capital S for, 'Swatch', yet didn't place any at the start of your sentences?! What the hell is happening to the English language? Reply
  • Peskarik - Friday, April 3, 2020 - link

    wait for corona to hit economy properly, maybe there will not be so much sales of 1000+ handsets Reply
  • Mgz - Saturday, April 4, 2020 - link

    $1400 is absurd ofc, In Vietnam since we made them so price is more reasonable - but we do not have 5G yet and we have that inferior version Exynos :(
    S20 is 680$
    S20+ is 780$
    S20 Ultra is 930$
    Reply
  • s.yu - Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - link

    Haha, I just looked on Taobao and the price of the SK version is comparable while it's SD this generation.
    I sometimes wonder if the locals in SK could even get that Taobao price off contract.
    Reply
  • RoC_17 - Saturday, April 4, 2020 - link

    Not only is the price tag obsurd, also it's the performance disparities between Snapdragon and Exynos, and weighting that with the price tag is Idiocracy². Why would I buy the Exynos crap for the same price than the Snapdragon parts? I've been with Samsung for nearly 10 years for phones and tablets along, but that's it. That I'm European doesn't mean I am an idiot willing to throw my money out of the window. Reply
  • PallavM - Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - link

    It is for sure, if this is how much the 5G phones are gonna cost I'm happy with my 4G phone Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - link

    $1400? Geez, I thought $1100 for the Ultra here in Singapore was already stupid overpriced especially when all S20 variants here are only available in 128GB, and the Note 10+ 256GB is just $590. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now