iPhone 5 vs Nexus 4 battery tests: LTE phone fares better than non-LTE handset

November 5, 2012
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LG Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 is going to soon be launched at which point we’ll have a plethora of comparisons out between Google’s latest flagship handset and its main competitors, whether they run Andorid, iOS or Windows Phone 8.

Meanwhile, AnandTech has already performed a variety of benchmark tests on the Nexus 4 – but also on the Nexus 10 – and today we’re going to focus on battery life. According to the publication, the Nexus 4 isn’t apparently ready to offer great battery life, despite being an LTE-less handset. That’s certainly interesting considering that Google cited battery efficiency among the main reasons for not including 4G LTE support in its latest Nexus, while downplaying the fact that its relationship with carriers is actually the one to blame for this decision.

Getting back to battery life, AnandTech performed a more complex series of tests that mimic every day smartphone usage in order to come out with results closer to actual battery usage:

We regularly load web pages at a fixed interval until the battery dies (all displays are calibrated to 200 nits as always). The differences between this test and our previous one boil down to the amount of network activity and CPU load.

Other factors, such as “aggressive browser caching,” baseband idle state and CPU workload were also taken into consideration when performing the test:

We also increased CPU workload along two vectors: we decreased pause time between web page loads and we shifted to full desktop web pages, some of which are very js heavy. The end result is a CPU usage profile that mimics constant, heavy usage beyond just web browsing. Everything you do on your smartphone ends up causing CPU usage peaks – opening applications, navigating around the OS and of course using apps themselves. Our 5th generation web browsing battery life test should map well to more types of smartphone usage, not just idle content consumption of data from web pages.

The battery tests were done on “multiple air interfaces” using 3G, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, and all Android tests were performed using the Chrome browser and 5GHz Wi-Fi “unless otherwise listed.”

The results? The Nexus 4 can offer from 4.18 to 6.27 hours of web browsing over 3G and Wi-Fi, respectively. The device was outperformed by its most important Android competitors, including the HTC One X, the Samsung Galaxy S3 or the new Motorola RAZRs but also by iOS devices, with the iPhone 5 topping the tests at 8.19 and 10.27 hours of browsing over 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, respectively.

So how is it that the Nexus 4, which doesn’t have an LTE power-hungry connection, only offers about half the battery life of the iPhone 5, an LTE device, at least according to these tests? AnandTech explains:

As always we test across multiple air interfaces (3G, 4G LTE, WiFi), but due to the increased network load we actually find that on a given process technology we see an increase in battery life on faster network connections. The why is quite simple to understand: the faster a page is able to fully render, the quicker all components can drive down to their idle power states.

It is also worth pointing out that certain early Nexus 4 reviews out there are saying that Nexus 4 battery life is quite healthy (The Verge), while others seem to disagree (Engadget).

Naturally, we’ll see more Nexus 4 tests once the handset comes out, at which point we’ll be able to better determine its power efficiency.

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