Which test: Galaxy S3 wins battery challenge, heavily beats Apple’s iPhone 5

by: AdrianOctober 12, 2012

With (some of) the hype surrounding Apple’s iPhone 5 finally toning down, it’s time to clear our heads, let our egos rest, and try to objectively answer the age-old question – is the new iPhone better than all Android phones?

We Android enthusiasts surely took a beating in the iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 drop test, which showed almost beyond the shadow of a doubt that Apple’s new device is stronger and sturdier than our “king.” Still, not all of us are incurable clutzes that drop their phones from five feet high, so other things might help tip the balance back in our favor.

Like the battery life. We’ve complained time in and time out about the lack of long battery life superphones, with the worthy exception of Motorola’s Razr Maxx. Still, the Samsung Galaxy S3 has managed to stand out of the crowd a bit, so we were very eager to see if the Phone 5 could undercut it in that department, too.

Thankfully, the good guys from British website Which? came to our rescue, with one very thorough battery life test pitting the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 one against the other. The battle involved other, more lightweight contenders, too.

I don’t know exactly how familiar you are with Which? tests, but these are one of the most trustworthy around. Not only are those guys very experienced in performing tests based on hard facts and data, but when talking about battery life they go the extra mile and broadcast their own 3G signal. That way, all phones start off equally, with no outside elements impacting the autonomies.

That said, let’s see how have some of the best smartphones around performed in the test:

Samsung Galaxy S3 – 359 minutes in web browsing, still the king

There isn’t much we can say other than kudos Samsung! Six hours of browsing with screen brightness set to maximum on a 4.8-incher with a 2,100mAh battery? Wow! Just wow!

Apple iPhone 5 – 200 minutes, dis-ap-point-ing

Fanboys have praised the heck out of Apple for increasing the iPhone’s screen size, but here’s the reverse of the medal.  The 4-inch 1136 x 640 screen and the new Apple A5 CPU drain this baby’s juice in only three hours and twenty minutes of web browsing, which is a terrible result, being just at over 50% of S3’s autonomy. Burn!

Apple iPhone 4S – 208 minutes, poor, but more honorable

Now that has got to sting. The 4S’s battery lasts 8 minutes longer than the iPhone 5’s, despite being one year older. The explanation? It’s pretty simple, actually. In its quest to make the new iPhone thinner than before, Apple only equipped it with a 1,440 mAh battery. This is almost identical to the one on the 4S, but the one year old iPhone has a smaller screen with a more modest resolution that drains the juice out of the battery slower. Regret “upgrading” yet?

HTC One X – 226 minutes, better than the iPhone, way behind the S3

Here’s another bittersweet result for HTC’s hero device, which shows that the Taiwanese were very close of making it, but did in fact struck out. The One X can handle its browsing for almost four hours, which is way behind the S3, but still ahead of the iPhones.

Sony Xperia S – 276 minutes, the most pleasant surprise

Though the One X performs decently in Which’s test, the Sony Xperia S wins the silver. The 4.3-incher was released way back in February, but can still hold its own with over four hours of autonomy, despite not being equipped with a very generous battery (just a 1,750 mAh unit). Not bad, Sony, not bad at all!

Missing from the test: Motorola’s Razr Maxx, Samsung’s Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2

The average (based on 99 tested phones): 193 minutes

What do you guys think about the test’s results? Do you think they’re accurate? Could the Samsung Galaxy S3 be so far ahead of the competition?

  • IncCo

    doesnt really sound plausible.. at least not on my S3..

    • azsxdc

      These results don’t really seem to be in line with any other tests done so far.

      • MasterMuffin

        They are, I’ve read many test and iphone has lost in almost all of them!

    • Jose Hernandez

      This test was done with all of the phones operating on a same level playing field. This is supposed to be a measure of the battery performance on a controlled situation. For a lot of people this will not be the case, for example: if you have every single darn bell and feature turned on on the Galaxy S3, you will never see it last that long, on the other hand, if you have your phone set properly, lower setting on brightness, no GPS or BT turned on, and background updated turned off, you can probably do better. This is just a control test to show how the battery performs per device, all the devices are under the same circumstances so you can get an idea of witch one has a better longer lasting battery. (results always vary on the real world)

      • Rcklss

        What is the point of a “smartphone” if you have to turn everything off and don’t use the “bells and whistles”.. I’m not a fanboy for either I’ve had the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, and now 5 as well as HTC Aria, Moto Droid, Droid x, Droid X2, skyrocket, s2, one x, and S3 extensively and on their respective carriers (I’ve had Verizon now on AT&T) but for me the better choice is iPhone.. I use the same apps on both OS the same notifications setup, GPS and bt always on, auto brightness and my battery has always lasted me the entire day without needing to be charged at bed time… Even then if I forget it I still have juice left the next morning. I love android and its customization and for many other reasons but I’m an outdoors person for work and pleasure and I can’t afford to have a dead battery when it’s just not necessary.

    • MasterMuffin

      It’s true, there have been many tests that say so!

    • yarrellray

      It’s very plausible I get great daily battery life on my Galaxy S3. These screen shots reflect different days but consistent battery life every day.

      • Кристијан Ристовски

        That font. *cringes*

  • ksabee

    any testing on galaxy nexus?? it still is newere than the 4S

    • Galaxy nexus has really weak battery compared to any of those phones. That has kept me away from buying it. Google reviews.

  • Matt

    The battery on my S3 is incredible compared to my previous owned S2 and iPhone 3G. Gives me a good 15hrs.

    • I use mine for roughly 120 mins daily on my commute to work and usually end up at around 60% remaining. Usage is texting, internet and music. I’m more than happy with battery life on my GS3

    • yarrellray

      My Galaxy S3 is very consistent with exceptional battery life 16hrs to 22hrs heavy use daily. I can also get 30plus hrs light use on my Galaxy S3 I have plenty screen shots to prove it. When I purchase the upcoming Galaxy Note 2 with all I know about touchwiz and battery conservation I will easily get 3days plus on one charge.

      • Lilith_Black

        =.= ur heavy use is 3h plus? That’s what I get only after getting rid of the bloatware, adding Greenify while my phone runs Wifi, sync and certain location services for the weather app is on.
        S4 is no better either. I never understand how S3 can claim good battery life on stock: it’s worse than my iphone 3GS (my previous phone: which last about the same and overheats less)

    • aholsteinson

      Same here, I can get a good 15hrs on a single charge everyday. Battery life is fantastic on the S3.

  • Joshhud

    All i know is my wifes Iphone 4 kills my HTC Evo in battery life.

    • MasterMuffin

      But it’s htc evo so…

      • yarrellray

        The Htc Evo 4g from 2010 will never compare to any of these devices. Snapdragon S1 processor come on guy time for something else brother. I owned the Htc Evo 4g on June 4th 2010 then the Htc Evo 3d on June 24th 2011 all launch day purchases. They were great for those days not for today…

        • MasterMuffin

          Why did you reply that to me? I said the same thing(in short)

          • yarrellray

            Placed my comment in the wrong spot. Using my Galaxy S3 is great but I got so many plans for the GALAXY NOTE 2 that it’s going to be much fun. That Spen will do so much for me..

          • MasterMuffin

            Yup, note 2 is really amazing with it’s screen and pen and multitasking and speed and everything :)

  • The iPhone 5 was barely above “average of 99 mobile phones”. HA!

    • Jared Persinger

      I wonder where the razr Maxx would be

      • Iucidium

        It’d destroy all… by miles. This is why I’d love to see a Nexus MAXX

  • In my experience of my S3 the battery life is stellar and there has been no detriment since updating to JB. We should all bear in mind this is just one test and only looking a web browsing, smartphones perform other functions, although this is welcome news.

    • MasterMuffin

      In wifi video playback with full scren brightness,sgs3 won (three hours more than iphone!)

  • MartinTran

    This doesn’t seem right at all. 359 minutes of screen on time and web browsing? That’s 6 hours screen on time constantly on the web at max brightness. My S3 battery life is pretty damn good but it’s not THAT great. I get a maximum 4 hours screen on time conservative usage. My average (fairly heavy) usage will net me 2.5hrs-3hrs screen on time. Maybe if I just watched videos for 6 hours but browsing the web even on wifi? Nah, can’t imagine getting more than 4 hours. I will need to question Which? about this.

    • MasterMuffin

      Yea,that’s probably not reallyheavy usage,but it still proves that sgs3’s batterylife is better!

  • True_Neutral

    As much as I like Android over iOS, this doesn’t seem right. 6 hours of screen on time? With maximum brightness? On 3G???

    Also, it directly contradicts what most other sites are finding. I understand that the testing methodologies are different, but they results couldn’t be that drastically different!

    • Fff

      Dude read first, its about web browsing time … Not screen time.

      • True_Neutral

        Web browsing implies that the screen is on, correct? At first Ithought that the test may involve a script refreshing pages a certain intervals automatically while the screen is off, but if so why would they state that the screen is at maximum brightness?

        If I’m wrong please correct me. :) Thanks!

  • CaptaintSpackle

    Kinda funny when people forget what it all comes down to MONEY vs Function. Considering the cost of an Crapple Iphone 5 64GB @ 400 dollars vs 100 for a Samsung S3 at Best Buy this October 14th. you decide witch one you rather buy and see what else you could do with 300 dollars in your pocket.

    • MasterMuffin

      Iphone 5 costs so much and it’s not even that great,only stupid people buy it!

      • Sirch Ohcirej

        A well thought out and grounded point – extra marks for making yourself out to be an ass clown in the process

        • MasterMuffin

          Thanks :P

    • Eric

      You’re comparing the most expensive version of the iPhone 5 with a discounted S3 you idiot >_>

      • Mario Irelan

        lol ya

      • ajnyy

        Why the hell is an isheep trolling in an Android site? Zero life or is a curious sheep wondering what “greener pastures” look like? get out

        • bananafish05

          It doesn’t change the fact that he’s right though

      • Vince

        If you compare memory capabitity it’s a no brainer. S3 supports up to a 64gb micro sd card that you can find online for sale around $50-$60. So 16gb + 64gb = 80gb storage for the standard $200 upgrade + $60 for a card. $260 for an 80gb device vs $400 for a 64gb device is simple math.

    • Mario Irelan

      the iphone 5 16 gb is only $200, the s3 at verizon is also $200, your biased because u only mentioned the most expensive iphone…

  • AJD22

    Don’t put Facebook’s crap app on your phone( why does it think it needs to have a service that NEVER shuts off running in the background) and save yourself a lot of battery, iOS or Android.

    • MasterMuffin

      True, I use the webpage because the app really sucks in many ways!

    • LarryVandemeer

      Yet again it proves that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is still the best smartphone on the planet… the fact that it last 80% longer than the iPhone5 is just icing on the cake… and that’s coming from an ex-iPhone4S user.

    • http://touch.facebook.com is very similar to the app anyways. Most of the important functionality is there.

  • Metalmachine6

    As far as people saying what they average battery life, did you also factor what your charging habits are? Do you let the phone die or almost die before charging or do you charge every night regardless of what is left? Or constantly keep it on a charger, because doing all this will kill a battery’s ability to hold an all day charge. Save for letting it die before charging. Just some food for thought. End of October can’t come soon enough, I want my Note 2!

    • Sean Stamatelaky

      Pretty sure lithium ion batteries fixed this being an issue?

    • Matanga

      Not true at all. Lithium ion batteries can be, and “like” to be, charged often without reaching low charge. What will surely kill your Lion battery is letting it die constantly and leaving it charging continously for more than 24 hours.

      • Phillip


    • Iucidium

      When it says ‘connect charger’ do it, once a week, completely drain/charge while off.

  • Yes agree with u

  • msl

    “Which? tests mobile phones … with screen brightness set to maximum …”??? Now it’s entirely possible that these results are completely representative of real-world battery life, but locking the screen on maximum brightness is not at all representative of my phone usage, so I’m not entirely sold on this one.

  • Bryan Walker

    They should have done the Motorola RAZR m or I also but I think moto was dq’d because of RAZR Max lol.

  • The iPhone 5 is very bright, I never need to set it on full brightness, it’s almost blindingly and beautifully bright if I do. I get much more usage out of my iPhone 5 then just 3 hours.

  • Captian Obvious

    Can’t we all agree iPhone 5 and SIII are incredible phones?

    • cm drunk

      Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world were people could accept both are great and get over the childish pissing contests?! Won’t happen – fanboys rule the Internet comment boards; their tension needs to be directed somewhere, what better than a place where they can all pretend their POV matters.

  • My sensation sucks ass although I do get 3 1/2 hours screen on time with cm10.

  • Android Commando
  • a

    The maximum brightness of the GS3 is much lower than the max brightness of the iPhone 5. Super AMOLED screens are not very battery efficient, so Samsung has made their max brightness low to save power and to extend their lifespan. The GS3 has one of the least brightest screens among the current crop of superphones.

    • alan

      lol i was just thinking that.

  • Lyn Scott

    CrApple always makes me laugh!

  • Rex

    Is this the 3S 3G or 3S 4G???

  • aman1251

    wht dont you compare the ipad vs galaxy note 10.1(battery)
    why havily scared????????????

  • It’s pretty easy for the Galaxy S2 to win the test at maximum brightness when it’s only half as bright as the iPhone 5. Check for yourself:

    • But here is SGS 3 D:

  • Raj

    i see my new Iphone 5 has the battery life issue when using 4G LTE feature. I am thinking on buying a product like Aptus. Can any one comment if this if it is possible to charge at double the power in same time as standard Iphone battery? See the http://www.aptuspower.com

  • hedgetj

    This test is crap. The maximum brightness level of the S3 doesn’t even come CLOSE to the maximum brightness of the iPhone 5 display meaning that they consume far less power. You need to do this test properly by setting the brightness of the displays to the same value by testing the output. CNET did a great job comparing the screens, including the brightness output:

    “The Apple iPhone 5 is capable of nearly four times as much light output as the Samsung Galaxy S3.”

    Read more: http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-57531239-85/screens-test-apple-iphone-5-vs-samsung-galaxy-s3/#ixzz29WSBIFwd

    Redo the test with the same perceived brightness output and let’s see how they stack up.

  • TrackSmart

    This battery life test is COMPLETELY FLAWED. And completely worthless as a result.

    I own the GSIII and love it, but everybody knows that the maximum brightness of the display has been capped at about half the brightness of competing smartphones to save battery life. Testing all of the phones on maximum brightness is a joke when put into this context.

    The display on the GSIII is large, beautiful, has incredibly high contrast and vibrant colors, but the tradeoff is that it is *less power efficient*. I can live with that compromise.

    Professional reviewers should be smart enough to conduct an apples-to-apples battery test that sets all of the phones to a common brightness level, so consumers can make informed decisions. They should know that there is a *tradeoff* between different display sizes and technologies. And they should decide what tradeoffs are reasonable to them.

  • Bruce

    What a bunch of liars, I cannot believe the remark the battery can last you half a day, I did not pay all this money to run the phone with most of the stuff turned off I could use a simple $20 Nokia, this is a disgrace that Samsung would release a phone like this with a 2100 battery, My iPhone 4S with all the apps on full last me 2 days, give us a free more powerful battery Samsung or take all your phones back or exchange for Note 1, this really sucks and by the way the updates Jelly Bean software does not help battery life almost at all:-(

  • How about the battery life when the phone is inactive? I recently got fed up with the short battery life on my Samsung Infuse (and HTC Incredible before that). For grins, I swapped my old iPhone 3G back in, and the battery life is 5-6x longer.

    I generally use my iPad for video/browsing/games, so my use case is more of a “leave phone idle unless need navigation while driving or to text/call”.

    I’d love to see a comparison that shows how well the phones hold a charge when idle.

  • ozer

    Sony xperia s does not last 276 on web browsing . I had the phone , my sing brightness was on less then 50% and I would kill the battery within 2:30 or less with web browsing …. that is the reason why I sold it

  • Mario Andhika

    This is for the international version of Galaxy S3 right? IIRC the US versions are less efficient.

    • TrackSmart

      I had to look up “IIRC” (maybe I’m getting old), but no, you do not have this correct. The US version has consistently shown better battery life in all cases where both phones were tested by the same tech sites under the same conditions. The quad core chip in the international version has some performance advantages, but the overall platform appears to be less energy efficient than the dual core US version. So a bit of a tradeoff.

      Regarding this battery life test: it’s not really a useful comparison. They test all of the phones at maximum screen brightness and the iphone screen allows for more than double the light output on its maximum setting. Sites that conduct proper battery life testing (i.e. under the same conditions) show that both phones have very good battery life, but the iphone has a slight advantage in most fair comparisons that I’ve seen.

  • Max

    So theoretically assuming the screen brightness is set to about equal brightness, the iPhone will win the S3 hands down. Assuming the maximum brightness of S3 is equal to 45% brightness on both iPhones:

    iPhone 5 should theoretically yield (200/0.45) = 444 minutes

    and iPhone 4S should yield 462 minutes,

    if the conditions in experiment above were kept the same and brightness is truly set to equal levels. So much for a ‘fair test’. Anyway, I know my calculations will be quite accurate as I have used both Androids and iPhones. The devices I have owned included Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Apple iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, 4S and 5. And iPhones are the kings in battery department, if you don’t include the Droid RAZR series as their competitors.

  • It isn’t enough to stop with just comparing in one type of network (in this case 3G). With wifi , iphone almost DOUBLES that of the galaxy:


    and I do a loooot of browsing on wifi

    and that is pathetic when it takes close to 3 hrs to fully charge (the battery is 150% bigger than the iphone)

    Apple can run leaner code because they program specifically for their devices.

  • I left a post on here and it got deleted so I will try again. With wifi use, iphone lasts twice as long (10 vs 6 hrs)


  • Lilith_Black

    I have never gotten that much out of my S3 and on daily use iPhone 5 definitely lasted longer

  • dressonwedding

    i don’t know galaxy s3,but i know my iphone is great,it’s the best mobile phone in my mind ! i get some cool iphone accessories here, http://iphones1955.com