Battery Life

With the iPad Air Apple moved to a 32.4Wh battery, a significant decrease from the 42.5Wh unit in the 3rd and 4th generation iPads. The smaller battery doesn’t come with a change to Apple’s claim of 10 hours of battery life, which implies a reduction in overall platform power. I confirmed a substantial reduction in platform power in my crude measurements earlier in the article. Although it’s possible for the iPad Air to draw substantially more power than the iPad 4, our earlier power data seems to imply that it’s unlikely given the same exact workload. Our battery life tests agree.

We'll start with our 2013 smartphone/tablet web browsing battery life test. As always all displays are calibrated to 200 nits. The workload itself is hidden from OEMs to avoid any intentional gaming, but I've described it at a high level here.

Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

Our web browsing workload came in at exactly 10 hours of continuous usage - an improvement compared to the iPad 4. Battery life on LTE was good as well, consistently delivering just under 10 hours of usage. The fact that both LTE and WiFi tests deliver similar results tells me that we may be bottlenecked by some other component in the system (perhaps display?).

I've been running the same video playback test for a while now, although we're quickly approaching a point where I'll need to move to a higher bitrate 1080p test. Here I'm playing a 4Mbps H.264 High Profile 720p rip I made of the Harry Potter 8 Blu-ray. The full movie plays through and is looped until the battery dies. Once again, the displays are calibrated to 200 nits:

Video Playback Battery Life (720p, 4Mbps HP H.264)

Video playback battery life also improves slightly compared to the iPad 4. Apple’s battery life claims aren’t usually based around video playback, so exceeding their 10 hour suggestion here shouldn’t come as a shock. Apple’s video decode power has always been extremely low.

Our final cross-platform battery life test is based on Kishonti's Egypt HD test. Here we have a loop of the Egypt HD benchmark, capped to 30 fps, running on all of the devices with their screens calibrated to 200 nits.

3D Battery Life - GLBenchmark 2.5.1

Our 3D battery life rundown test shows a substantial improvement in battery life over the iPad 4. IMG’s PowerVR G6430, running a moderate workload, can do so more efficiently than any of the previous generation GPUs in Apple’s SoCs. Much like the A7’s CPU cores however, there’s a wider dynamic range of power consumption with the G6430. Running at max performance I would expect to see greater GPU power consumption. The question then becomes what’s more likely? Since the majority of iOS games don’t target the A7 (and instead shoot for lower end hardware), I would expect you to see better battery life even while gaming on the iPad Air vs the iPad 3/4.

Charge Time

The iPad Air comes with the same 12W USB charger and Lightning cable that we first saw with the iPad 4. Having to only charge a 32.5W battery means that charge times are lower compared to the iPad 3 and 4:

Charge Time in Hours

A full charge takes a little over 4 hours to complete. The adapter delivers as much as 12W to the iPad, drawing a maximum of 13.5W at the wall. I still think the sweet spot is somewhere closer to 2.5 hours but that’s another balancing game that must be played between charge time and maintaining battery health. It’s still so much better than the ~6 hours of charge time for the iPad 3 and 5.69 hours for the iPad 4.

WiFi & LTE Connectivity Usability, iOS 7 and the Impact of 64-bit Applications


View All Comments

  • stevenvmc - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    Yes, it is a deal breaker for me. I'm using iPad 4 with 1GB RAM and it keeps getting low memory. When I open several tabs in Safari (5-6 tabs), when switching among the tabs Safari will refresh the content which will cost data bandwidth if on 4G. And the thing is they may release another iPad Air with 2GB RAM in 6 months. Reply
  • Desplow - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    I still think the most significant iPad upgrade was the iPad 3 with retina display. Reply
  • jelloboy - Saturday, November 2, 2013 - link

    I had the original iPad, the iPad 2 and the iPad 3 and now the Air. I will completely agree with the review - in your hand this is a HUGE upgrade over the 3. On paper it's not overly impressive, but it's something you have to hold to really appreciate it. I was on the fence about getting the Air but decided to go ahead and get one today after reading this review last night. I'm very impressed with the Air - I'd say got and see one yourself and then see what you think.

    Also the iPad 2 might have been the biggest upgrade - the speed difference between that and the first was greatly needed. By the time I got rid of my original iPad for an iPad 2 I was ready to throw the thing through a window because it just seemed so laggy. The iPad 3 obviously had the Retina screen, but basically is an iPad 2 in terms of performance. That's my opinion anyways.
  • shermanx - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    when is the MBP review coming out? really curious whether this time Apple has fixed the ghosting for Retina screens, which is not really mentioned in reviews available now. Reply
  • LittleB69 - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    Great so this time they got it right!

    So now it runs Java and Flash without problems and can have other browsers installed that are not based on the safari rotkit. Support for more codecs, IR blaster for remote control, USB and NFC support and ....... or did they just make a thinner faster product with the same functionality as all the other devices?
  • Charles K - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    Hello everyone, new here, sorry for the long (first) post and my english.

    I just wanted to say: I just bought the iPad air this morning after returning my nexus 7.2 for having a horrible aspect ratio, google asking for all my information in every app and just general lagginess.
    Don't get me wrong, the device itself is fast, but there is a lot of input lag, and little freezes all the time when using chrome or just when navigating the play store. I had gotten it because it was definitely cheaper, but the device even crashed a few times in less than two days, and coming from the iPad Mini (which I absolutely loved but gave my girlfriend), this just won't do.

    So now I figure, let's just shell out the extra cash and get the new iPad Air. I get the 16Gb "space gray", which looks much, much better on the iPhone, but still a beautifull device.
    I fire it up, play a bit with it and boom, (first-world) problems.

    There is a lot of screen input lag. I can't say precisely but definitely at least 100ms.It's still pretty fast, but using the tablet mainly for drawing and internet browsing, it really bothers me on such an expensive device.

    My question is: I really didn't feel input lag to be that slow on the iPad Mini, and I don't know if it's due to the much higher resolution, or just iOS 7 itself, buit does anyone feel it too, and do you think it could be adressed by a future software update? Because i'm thinking of returning the device and just get another iPad Mini without retina display. I don't reaaally need the extra power and resolution, and size/weight is really what's more important to me. That and speed (not power if it makes sense)

    Thank y'all, and great review Anan!!
  • ADGrant - Saturday, November 2, 2013 - link

    If size and weight are your priority then you should get a Mini.

    As for lag, I haven't experienced any though I don't do much drawing. However, there is not a faster ARM tablet on the market and iOS has been measured as having much lower screen lag than Android.
  • Ken Esq - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    I think Apple did a great job of cutting the weight down. Unfortunately, no matter how good their hardware is it's strangled by the overly simplistic iOS. I wish I could run Android or Win 8 on the iPad hardware. Reply
  • Ken Esq - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link would be nice if reviewers made it very clear that Apple does not supply a GPS chip on any of the WiFi only iPads. I guess they save themselves a few cents. Reply
  • - Saturday, November 2, 2013 - link

    There are tons of tablets running full windows 8 for much less and work much better.

    Asus t100
    Surface pro
    Dell venue 8

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