Battery Life

Battery life is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of any smartphone. However, battery life is an enormous subject, and while it may seem simple on the surface there’s a great deal of underlying complexity. In order to try and cover the full breadth of use cases, we start with our baseline test, which is now the web browsing battery life test. In order to try and control for extraneous variables and get a good relative comparison, we standardize all displays to 200 nits on a full white display.

Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

Our first test is in WiFi web browsing. As we can see, the iPhone 6 puts up a surprising showing for a phone with such a small battery. If anything, it seems that Apple leaned towards the conservative side in their advertised numbers as we managed to get higher than expected battery life. It may seem strange that the iPhone 6 achieves such a strong showing despite the small battery, but this is because the test is designed to avoid penalizing a phone for having a faster SoC or data connection.

Web Browsing Battery Life (4G LTE)

In LTE web browsing, we see the same story. The iPhone 6 is about equal to or better than the competition, which is in line with what we would expect given the cellular architecture. In the case of the iPhone 6 and most other flagship smartphones this year, components such as Qualcomm’s QFE1100 envelope tracker, WTR1625 transceiver, and MDM9x25 modem have managed to make LTE power consumption approximately equal to WiFi power consumption. With the deployment of category 6 LTE and next generation RF components we could see LTE battery life exceed WiFi battery life.

While the web browsing test gives us a good picture of battery life in display-bound tasks, intensive use tends to be more SoC-bound. In order to see how phones compare in SoC-bound workloads, we turn to GFXBench, which has an infinite looping test. This test also provides a good idea of nominal performance. Unfortunately, for now we cannot report an accurate Basemark OS II battery life score as the test will stop when low battery notifications pop up on the screen. We are currently investigating methods to bypass this issue and report a final score in the near future.

GFXBench 3.0 Battery Life

GFXBench 3.0 Performance Degradation

In the GFXBench test, at first it seems that the iPhone 6 is one of the worst for battery life under sustained load. However, once we look at the performance degradation over time it makes a lot more sense. This seems to be the type of workload that Apple referenced in their presentations, because this is the first phone I’ve seen that successfully does a full rundown without actually throttling. Of course, this does come with high skin temperatures. The phone definitely gets hot, but not uncomfortable. Using a FLIR camera, I saw peak temperatures of around 43 degrees Celcius, so it definitely doesn't exceed 50C in most conditions.

Normally, I would expect a 4.7” class smartphone to need a battery around the size of the HTC One (M7) or Motorola Moto X (2013) to keep pace with phones like the One (M8) and Galaxy S5, but Apple has pulled it off with a battery that is much smaller. There are two key factors that we can point to in this case. The first is the display, which can avoid pushing the LED backlight towards the higher current region that is much less efficient. This is because the amount of light-blocking circuitry is reduced and the active area of the display can be higher. The second aspect is the SoC, which is on a lower power 20nm process node. While TSMC’s 20nm process doesn’t have FinFET, improved silicon straining and high K metal gate make it possible to drive down active power and leakage when compared to 28nm processes. It’s also likely that the A8’s architecture is more efficient than other SoCs we’ve seen this year. However, it's important to note that without a capacitance and voltage table or something similarly concrete we can't really prove this statement.

Charge Time

While battery life determines the time spent away from a charger, the time spent attached to a charger is just as important. Even if most people charge their phones at night, there are plenty of cases where people don't have at least five hours to spend charging their phone. For example, forgetting to plug the phone into a charger before going to sleep or charging a phone between connecting flights are all times when charge time becomes crucial. In order to properly test for charge time, charge time is measured as the time from when the phone is connected to the charger to the time when the A/C adapter reaches its lowest power state with the phone still connected.

Charge Time

As you can see, the iPhone 6 performs reasonably well, and ends up in the same range as the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 Plus ends up on the high side because it ships with the same power adapter as the iPhone 6, which can provide a maximum of one amp at five volts.

Fortunately, based on the USB device information for the phones, both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus support charging with power adapters like the iPad charging block that can provide up to 2.1 amps at five volts. Using one of these chargers will dramatically reduce charge time on the new iPhones, and it's a very worthwhile investment (assuming you don't already have an iPad) for the iPhone 6 Plus in particular.

GPU and NAND Performance Display
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  • bobobobo - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    solid phone, solid improvement.
  • AppleCrappleHater2 - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Worship the holy apple.

    The apple way, selling over expensive crap to stupid consumers that like to
    get robbed.

    This has been a disastrous launch in every respect. The iwatch is such an
    ugly piece of crap, it is truly unbelievable how a company, formerly known for
    its remarkable design, dares to put out such a crap ton of shit. Some
    characteristics are glaringly obvious and inherent to it: over expensive,
    hardly innovative, limited functionality and usability (need of an iPhone to
    make it work), looks exactly like a toy watch and so on.

    There are of course way better smart watches out there, especially from the
    likes of Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Asus, LG, simply put, there is no need for
    another piece of over expensive junk.

    The iPhone 6 is technologically stuck in pre-2011 times, a base model with
    a capacity of 16GB without the possibility to use SD cards isn't even funny
    anymore. The screen resolution is horrendous, it isn't water proof, shock and
    dust resistant, it offers nothing innovative, just some incremental
    updates over its predecessor, both lacking severely behind their competitors at
    their respective launch dates.

    Now the Iphone 6 Plus offers a „Retina HD“ screen, full 1920x1080p, oh wow,
    where have you been for the past 4 years apple, talk about trailing behind.
    That’s pathetic. The interesting thing about that is the fact that apple
    always manages to sell backwards oriented, outdated crap to its user base, all
    while pretending to be an innovative technology leader. The similarities
    regarding any form of sectarian cult are striking.

    You gotta love how Apple always comes up with new marketing bullshit terms,
    aka "Retina HD", with the intention to manipulate its users while preventing easy
    comparisons with its competitors by withholding the actual specs. Apparently it’s
    not enough to have a 1080p screen, you have to call it "Retina HD" to make those
    suckers buy it, otherwise someone could look at the 4K Amoled and Oled screens
    form LG and Samsung devices and get outright disappointed. Same goes for
    everything else. Every outdated „feature“ needs to get its own marketing label
    to persuade buyers with crappy „experience“ and „usability“ ads, while covering
    the truth with marketing gibberish, knowing full well that only a fraction of
    aforementioned buyers cares to look at the facts and dares to compare them.

    Car engines come to mind. For comparisons shake let’s look at a 1.0 liter, turbo
    charged petrol engine and a V8 compressor. What’s better should be obvious, but
    by calling the former an „ecobooster“, thus giving it a special marketing label,
    this joke becomes a „feature“, something positive that can be added tot the list
    of features of a car.

    By doing so a negative aspect is transformed into a positive one, the
    reality is distorted, non tech savvy buyers are manipulated and comparisons are
    made more difficult (another layer of marketing bullshit to overcome), well done
    marketing department. You see , if something is seriously lacking (of course for
    profit, what else), don’t bother explaining, just give it a nice marketing term, distort
    reality, make it a feature and call it a day. Fuck that!!

    FACT: Apple has been forced to copy Android in style and size for
    years because people abandoned their tired, moribund and fossilized
    devices for superior and innovative Android devices.

    Steve Jobs said no one should want a 7" tablet until everyone went and bought
    Android devices forcing Apple to copycat with the iPad Mini. Apple
    didn't think anyone wanted a phone screen larger than a business card
    until they all bought Androids thus forcing the arrival this week of the
    iPhone Galaxy and iPhone Galaxy Note clone phones.

    Swipe down notifications that don't interfere? Copied from Android and WebOS. Siri?
    Bought and ruined from a private developer; Google Now crushes it.
    3rd-party keyboards? Welcome to 2010, iChumps! Widgets? Welcome to 2009
    except you can't place them on your home screen. Live wallpapers and
    hidden icons? Maybe Apple will get around to copying those in iOS X in
    2016. Who knows.

    Apple lacks creativity and honest people acknowledge it. Steve Jobs gets credited as an
    innovator when all he was, was a huckster who'd spot someone else's tech, polish it up nicely,
    then slap a gnawed fruit logo on the back, charge a premium price and
    wait for the rubes like Jim Smith to hand over their cash like the good
    iSheep they are.

    But after that initial iteration, Apple is incapable of actually innovating something new.
    They literally cannot make a product until someone else shows them how and they copy it.
    They are also unable refine things because they believe to improve is to
    admit something was imperfect the first time. (This is why QuickTime 4
    had a legendarily terrible UI that was never changed through QT7 a
    decade later.) All they can do is make things incrementally thinner or
    faster but it's just minor refinements since they can't invest their way
    out of a wet paper bag.

    For all their squealing about Retina displays, they never even had a HD display until now;
    8th time is the charm, though you need the iPhone Galaxy Note to get the 1080p that many Android
    users have had for at least a year and is now considered
    bare-minimum spec. At the rate Apple drags along, QHD screens should
    arrive in 2018. Maybe. A graphic went around after the reveal comparing
    the iPhone Galaxy to the Nexus 4 from 2012. Exactly.

    The Apple Iphone 1 and Ipad 1 might have been innovative at their time,
    but since then, the bitten apple has been continuously rotting from the inside
    outwards, always swarmed by millions of Iworms which regale themselves with its
    rotten flesh, not forgetting all other Americans who support apple by means of
    their tax dollars to finance its bought US Treasury/Government bond interest rates.

    Last but not least, every Apple product includes a direct hotlink to the NSA,
    free of charge, something that might make it a good value, after all.

    Ceterum censeo Applem esse delendam.
  • esterhasz - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Since we're quoting Cato today, here's a good one: "grasp the subject, the words will follow".
  • uhuznaa - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    You seem to be a tiny bit obsessed.
  • iphone6splus - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Yet, he didn't comment on Touch ID.
  • kevin_newell - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    Apple is lagging far behind it's competitors both in user satisfaction (source: and innovation. I mean, who was first with large screens and phone cameras that work well in low light? It sure wasn't Apple.
  • Caliko - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    A large iPhone is NOT innovation.

    Sorry iPhoney fan.
  • lowtolerance - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    I can recommend some good therapists. You need one.
  • melgross - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    You sir, are a complete idiot!
  • Gondalf - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    To be fair, a >$600 phone deserves a good least good as competitors, more ram and a little SD expansion slot. Plain and simple. This is not a matter of "idiocy"

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