Battery Life

Battery life is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of the user experience of any mobile device. One of the major reasons why many people use phablets is to get better battery life, as the PCB size of a phablet is often roughly similar to what you’ll see in a smartphone, but the battery will be bigger to fill the available space. As a result, a phablet has a higher proportion of battery than a smartphone. This inherently means that battery size will scale faster than platform power. In order to test this metric, we use a number of different tests ranging from display-bound web browsing to SoC-bound CPU and GPU load tests. In order to eliminate confounding variables, we test all devices from the same ASUS RT-AC68U router for WiFi testing, and in strong LTE/3G reception for mobile web browsing, in addition to setting all devices to an average of 200 nits on the display.

Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

In our first test of WiFi web browsing, the Galaxy Note5 performs identically to the Galaxy Note 4. This might be surprising because the display is the same size and resolution as the Galaxy Note 4 with a smaller battery than the Galaxy Note 4. However, the smaller battery is compensated for due to improvements in SoC and display efficiency. In particular, the move from a planar 28nm process to a 14nm FinFET process dramatically reduces power consumption on the SoC.

Web Browsing Battery Life (4G LTE)

In LTE battery life, we see a noticeable drop relative to WiFi battery life. It’s likely that this is mostly due to the power consumption of the Shannon 333 modem present in these devices. There’s not much else to say here, but battery life is still good.

PCMark - Work Battery Life

Moving past our mostly display-bound web browsing test, PCMark provides a much more balanced look at battery life as APL tends to vary a bit more with content like videos and photos instead of just webpages, and the CPU component is much more strongly emphasized. Here we can really see the Note5’s Exynos 7420 stretch its legs as it keeps a high performance level with long runtime.

GFXBench 3.0 Battery Life

GFXBench 3.0 Performance Degradation

In our sustained SoC-bound workloads, GFXBench shows a healthy improvement over the Galaxy S6. Although we’re unable to test in perfectly controlled temperatures, it looks like Samsung has improved the throttling behavior of the SoC as the throttling appears to be more graceful rather than sinusoidal, and the result is a pretty significant jump in runtime over most devices.

BaseMark OS II Battery Life

BaseMark OS II Battery Score

In Basemark OS II, we see a pretty significant uplift in runtime when compared to something like the Galaxy S6 or Note 4. The runtime increase isn’t just due to excessive throttling though, as the battery score shows that this isn’t just a case of throttling the CPU until the runtime is an improvement over past devices.

Overall, if you’ve read the Galaxy S6 review it’s pretty fair to say that you’ll know what to expect from the Galaxy Note5. Battery life is roughly equivalent to the Galaxy Note 4 despite the smaller battery, and due to the greatly improved Exynos 7420 SoC relative to 2014 SoCs SoC-bound cases will show pretty healthy improvements as long as you’re controlling for performance.

Charge Time

While normally battery life is the primary area of concern for a smartphone, in some cases it’s important for a phone to charge quickly. We can all claim to be perfect but one of the simplest cases for faster charging is forgetting to plug the phone in before going to sleep, so the maximum allowable charge time goes from something like 6 hours to an hour at best. As a result, a faster charger can dramatically improve practical battery life in any situation where you have limited time to charge. This can be accomplished by increasing either the current or voltage of the charger. The original quick charging standards improved charge rate through higher current, but this eventually hits a wall due to resistance in the wire. In order to increase the total amount of power delivered without increasing the thickness of the cable used voltage was increased in the case of newer standards like QC 2.0. In the case of the Galaxy Note5 and Galaxy S6 edge+, we’re looking at the same 9V, 1.67A QC 2.0 compatible charger that shipped with the Galaxy Note 4. In order to test this properly, we log the time it takes for the phone to charge by running a timer until the charger power draw hits a point that represents 100% battery.

Charge Time

It probably isn’t a surprise, but charge time ends up similar to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 4. I suspect that we’ll be waiting until QC 3.0 to be able to see significant improvements as the current standard doesn’t have particularly fine-grained voltage scaling according to cable and phone conditions. Interestingly, the wireless fast charger is actually not too far off from the wired charger as it indicates 100% around 1.84 hours into charging which is almost identical to the wired fast charger.

Introduction and Design Display
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  • kspirit - Friday, October 02, 2015 - link

    Display and battery numbers, etc are on par with the iPhone 6 which is a year old now. The 6S looks like it'll wreck this thing. Reply
  • RMSe17 - Friday, October 02, 2015 - link

    Except for the GFX battery, judging by how quickly the 6 ran out. Reply
  • kaidenshi - Sunday, October 04, 2015 - link

    Maybe I just don't use my phone enough, but typically at the end of the day I still have around 40-50% battery life on my iPhone 6. My previous device was a Moto G, which was supposedly great with battery life but it would die on me around dinner time even on a light use day.

    Of course, I'm actually getting work done during the day instead of screwing around on Facebook or Bejeweled clones for 8+ hours at work, so there's that.
    Reply
  • LoganPowell - Friday, November 27, 2015 - link

    Both phones are good. But between the two, the Galaxy S6 Edge is way better receiving a higher review (see http://www.consumerrunner.com/top-10-best-phones/ for instance...) than S5.
    Reply
  • farhadd - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    The reason the iphone 6 runs down fast is because it doesn't throttle the frame rate. It doesn't have to throttle because the metal enclosure can dissipate the heat efficiently enough to keep up. Reply
  • Oyeve - Friday, October 02, 2015 - link

    Isnt the display on the 6 and 6s basically the same? Reply
  • close - Friday, October 02, 2015 - link

    iPhone 6s has basically the same battery lifetime in real life experience because the battery is a bit smaller. So I really think "wreck" is a way to strong word. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, October 02, 2015 - link

    The 6S has nearly identical display and battery properties (slightly worse) as the 6...? Reply
  • kspirit - Friday, October 02, 2015 - link

    It has presumably has a very fast chipset and storage though. Let's see how the camera stacks up to this, as well. I love how they designed the Note 5 but I'm so hesitant to go back to Samsung software after reading all those threads about people running into issues, on reddit :( Reply
  • abrogan - Friday, October 02, 2015 - link

    In my family, 2 S4's died quickly after being purchased. My brother has a perfect Note 4, but my neighbor's sister bought an S6. Even after a fresh reformat, it always has the "google play services has stopped responding" error. No way to fix as far as I can tell... it's useless for her, and all the money wasted... My Nexus never has any software bugs, so I'm sticking with Nexus myself. I've had 3 perfect Nexus phones, so I'll buy another Nexus. Not very scientific, but.... Reply

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