Battery life is hugely important, and in the case of the SGS3 USA variants the question is just how long you can go with the combination of even beefier air interfaces like LTE and DC-HSPA+, an even larger 4.8" display, and dual core 28nm MSM8960. The SGS3 includes a very large 7.98 watt-hour battery with a higher 3.8V nominal chemistry (2100 mAh * 3.8 V = 7.98 watt hours).

Battery Capacity

I spent a big part of my limited time with the SGS3s battery life testing, and turned to our Smartphone 2011 suite of battery life tests which I’ve described in detail before. The web browsing tests consist of a few dozen pages which are loaded every 10 seconds with the display set at precisely 200 nits (using a meter) until the phone dies - this is done over WiFi and cellular data. The tethering test consists of a single client notebook attached to the device using its onboard WiFi hotspot function, and four tabs of our page load test alongside a 128 kbps streaming MP3 station are loaded on that notebook until the phone dies.

I was supplied the AT&T and T-Mobile SGS3s, which differ in air interface and band support. The T-Mobile version is on the carrier’s DC-HSPA+ network for testing, and the AT&T version supports both HSPA+ (single carrier) and LTE. Unfortunately AT&T LTE is not lit up in my Tucson, AZ market yet (which would make my life so much easier), so I could only run the 3G WCDMA result. 4G LTE results from that particular device will come shortly and I’ll update appropriately.

Web Browsing (Cellular 3G - EVDO or WCDMA)

Immediately we can see that the combination of MSM8960 and Samsung’s big battery really pay off for the SGS3. Both the T-Mobile and AT&T versions (on DC-HSPA+ 42.2 and HSPA+ 14.4, respectively) post impressive numbers around 8 hours. This is with the display set at 200 nits in the browser, which is one tick short of all the way to maximum on the SGS3. Samsung has included a ton of battery saving display analysis features in the SGS3 browser, which were turned off for this test. Obviously if you turn those on (I would) you’ll be able to push battery life even further. It is shocking how close we come to the previously untouchable iPhone 4S.

As soon as I get the AT&T LTE numbers (I have to travel to an AT&T LTE market and carry out the test there) I’ll update with that graph here.

Web Browsing (WiFi)

Next up is the WiFi battery life test, which posts numbers right around where the 3G cellular test was. You might be wondering why this is since the SGS3 includes an even lower power WiFi stack (BCM4334 even in the Krait-based USA variants). The result indicates to me that we’re almost entirely dominated by display power draw here. If we ran with a lower brightness, I expect you’d see WiFi longevity pull in front of cellular like you’d expect.

Cellular Talk Time

Cellular talk time is starting to get so long that it’s hard to test - I essentially lost an entire day of playing with the AT&T SGS3 to running a call time battery life test. This is a good problem to have, though I’m surprised it didn’t go just a bit longer and match or beat the One X AT&T result.

WiFi Hotspot Battery Life (3G)

The 3G hotspot test really tells what things are like with the display turned off. Quite honestly I’m surprised the SGS3 doesn’t do much better here – it’s possible there’s room for further optimization of the WiFi hotspot mode on SGS3. Likewise, I’ll update with 4G LTE numbers for the AT&T model as soon as I’m in an area where it’s lit up and I can burn a few hours testing.

Overall, in my time with the SGS3 I would subjectively describe battery life as above average. With AMOLED, 200 nits is actually pretty bright, and you see Samsung and other OEMs clamping display brightness well below the physical limits to both save power and prevent burn-in.

Obviously the other interesting question is how the SGS3 fares on its battery saving mode with the CPU clock capped at 1.0 GHz. That’s also next in line for testing.

Software - Android 4.0.4, TouchWiz, S Beam and S Voice Performance Analysis


View All Comments

  • apoorvnaik - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    This link says that the phone supports Band I, V, II and AWS.
    Does that mean it is a pentaband ?

    I'm totally confused by looking at so many different specs. :(
  • Mnalley95 - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    I am currently deciding between the one x and the sgs3, and the two most important factors to me are the battery life and the RAM differences. Nearly every other site has the one x with pretty awfu battery life in their tests, usually with the galaxy nearly doubling the results, but on all of your tests the one x appears fantastic, which is great. All I want is to be able to use my phone at least 12 hours with moderate to heavy use on LTE, so the differing battery results on different sites concerns me. Is there any explanation for this, anyone? Also, the RAM difference could be big in future OS updates, does anyone agree? Which device would be the most future proof? The sgs3 is also easier to hack and will probably have a larger community behind it, which is important. I think I personally like the one X better overall, but if the galaxy beats it in the categories I mentioned I would definitely be happy with it instead. Anyone that cares to share their opinions and answer my questions would be appreciated. Reply
  • Eridanus - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    It's a good thing the S3 has an SD card reader, unlike the Nexus.

    (Am I going to get censured again?)
  • ItsaRaid - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    Brian, both reviews were awesome- how do you cut through the chase and garbage.? Which is the better of the 2? Lets throw away all the crazy stuff, preferences, UI's bells and whistles. I HAVE A Nightmare with a Atrix2 and AT&T. I don't want to duplicate it.
    Wifi connectivity, receive signal functionality, browser use....lag, forced closes, move up or down on a page, my A2 will freeze and won't flick IP or down on a page. It took over a.Monte to load Annand tech on this phone! Audio output is critical to me, I have a sensory hearing deficit. How does the amount of volume compare to the Atrix2. That's all the good the A2 has...lots of volume and a bright crisp display.
    I hope you will respond to this.
    Thank you!
  • Narcopolypse - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    The reason S Voice responds so much like Siri is because they both query Worlfram Alpha (an independent system owned by neither company) for their answers. SRI (the company that made Siri) just added in a fake conversation system (20 year old tech) to tell you lame jokes and act like a back talking bitc# when it can't find an answer for you. None of this is new. And yes, Apple has already sued over it and tried to have sales of the GS3 banned in the US. Reply
  • steven75 - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Or it could be that S Voice is pretty much a complete clone of Siri from the interface to the functionality. Voice control isn't new, but the complete cloning should be obvious to even the most egregious Android/Samsung fanboy.

    If we can't agree on that, then we'll probably disagree on other things such as whether 2+2=4.
  • iCrunch - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    Oh come on, I've read multiple reviews and they are 100% consistent in concluding that Samsung's S-Voice doesn't come anywhere close to being as good or accurate or whatever as Apple's Siri. Is my troll/BS detector set to too sensitive or am I picking up some actual trolling here? Reply
  • uhuznaa - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Some people seem to think that this needs just voice recognition and a web service to turn to. In fact the real problem here is actually making sense out of what the user said and this is not just a technical problem.

    I have no idea where Samsung got/bought/licensed the AI here, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the SRI stuff Apple got its hands on were better.
  • ProPhotoman - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    I bought a GS3, and the total ram is only 1.6GB .I checked two more in the store, and they are the same. Why is Samsung publishing it as 2gb? Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Thursday, July 05, 2012 - link

    A portion is reserved for system usage. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now