As part of our Best of Android 2017 series, we’ve been putting this year’s best flagship smartphones through a set of rigorous tests to find out which truly deserves to be called the best. No thorough test of the best Android smartphones would be complete without the one aspect that none of us ever seem to be able to get enough of – battery life. We’ve put our top 10 handsets through a rigorous set of battery life and charge time tests to see which will get you through a day of heavy usage with the most juice to spare.
To start with, we did a quick battery test to put the phones through their paces, testing everything that’s coming up in more depth below – WiFi, gaming, and video playback. Our testing app shuffles between all three of these tests for 90 minutes and then estimates the total battery life based on the amount drained. This allows us to partially simulate real world usage, although it is worth noting that battery life varies dramatically according to your usage.
The data shows that the BlackBerry KEYone Black comes out miles ahead of the competition, clocking in 9 hours worth of use time. This handset is followed by the Mate 10 Pro, Moto Z2 Force, and Galaxy Note 8, which all fit north of the 6 hour mark. The Google Pixel 2 XL was a major disappointment here, lasting just 4 hours 38 minutes in this test.
Specific battery use times
To test out the battery use time of some more specific scenarios, we’ve turned everything else on the phone off and locked the display brightness to 200 nits. This allows us to see to what extremes we can extend battery life if you’re using your phone for a very specific purpose. We’ve tested WiFi web browsing, gaming, and video playback independently, and you might be surprised by how long some of these phones can last.
Typical WiFi browsing time across these 10 flagships seems to fall around the 9 hour mark, which is pretty impressive, but there are a notable of standout handsets in this test. The BlackBerry KEYone and Huawei Mate 10 Pro manage a whopping 13 hours, more time than anyone should spend browsing the internet in a single day. The Pixel 2 XL and Nokia 8 also stand out at close to 11 hours. The less said about the LG V30’s sub 8 hour WiFi browsing ability the better, especially given that we’ve switched everything else off!
Gaming is, of course, much more demanding than browsing the web, and so we see average use times fall here. Despite that, some smartphones are capable of very impressive gaming times. Notably the OnePlus 5T clocks in 9 hours 50 minutes, followed not too far behind by the Moto Z2 Force and Galaxy Note 8 at just under 9 hours. The LG V30 also performs much better in this test.
Unfortunately the Razer Phone, designed by a legacy gaming hardware manufacturer and boasting a 120 fps display for this very purpose, comes in dead last at just over 5 hours. The Mate 10 Pro is barely any better here either, so gamers may want to steer clear of these models if they want to play games on long journeys.
Finally we come to the video playback test, another reasonably demanding scenario that can vary quite considerably based on display resolution and hardware acceleration. Again, we see some different standout handsets here – the BlackBerry KEYone and LG V30. Both handsets breach the 12 hour mark, which is enough time to endure a long haul flight on a single charge.
The bulk of our flagships manage to fall between 10 and 11 hours, which are still very good results. However, the Xperia XZ1 and Razer Phone fall notable behind the curve. The two clock in just 7:41 and 8:46 hours respectively, which is not so great given that we’ve switched all of the phones’ other hardware off, but that will still be enough playback time for most.
Of course, once you’ve used up all this battery life you’ll need to replenish. With fast charging technology packed into pretty much every smartphone these days, we’ve tested how fast each handset can go from 0 to 100 percent battery too.
Faster is obviously better here, and the Moto Z2 Force’s Turbo Charge technology takes top spot in just under 80 minutes to full. This is followed not too fast behind by the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and OnePlus 5T, which both take a fraction over 90 minutes to fully charge. The Pixel 2 XL is the stand out slouch of this test, clocking in at a full 2 and a half hours to max out its battery from empty.
If you’re a really heavy user, you might find that you need to top up your smartphone throughout the day, but can’t find the time to bring it back to 100 percent. So we’ve also gathered the data to see how quickly the phones can charge up after just 15, 30, and 60 minute milestones. This offers a better view of each model’s fast charging capabilities over short term charging bursts.
A similar trend emerges over the shorter charging times too. the Mate 10 Pro, OnePlus 5T, and Moto Z2 Force, each pass the 30 percent charge mark in just the first 15 minutes, and pushing up to 60 percent after just 30 minutes. After a hour these three stay out in front, although they are closely followed by the LG V30 and Nokia 8.
Again, the Pixel 2 XL is quite disappointing, although it’s not as far behind its competitors in the short term. The Galaxy Note 8 and Xperia XZ1 will also only net you a little over 15 percent battery life after just 15 minutes of charging, and are still a long way off half charge even given half an hour. For those who like to charge quickly, there are some very clear winners here.
Of course, charging times are relative to the size of the battery and it’s no surprise that the Moto Z2 Force is one of the fastest charging, as it has one of the smallest capacities on this list. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro and OnePlus 5T might have similar charging times, but they vary in capacity quite a bit, with Huawei’s flagship sporting a 4,000 mAh battery, compared to a 3,300 mAh unit inside the OnePlus 5T. To find out which is the fastest overall, once you disregard the capacity of each device, we looked at the overall charging time of each device and divided the capacity by the number of minutes to see how many mAh each phone charged every minute on average.
It’s clear that once you look at the mAh per minutes, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is considerably faster than any other phone, charging at 43.956 mAh per minutes. The OnePlus 5T comes second with 35.87 mAh per minutes and is followed by the Moto Z2 Force (34.557), LG V30 (33.673) and Razer Phone (32.787). To no surprise, the Sony Xperia XZ1, Google Pixel 2 XL and BlackBerry KEYone Black occupy the bottom three spots, which is indicative of their overall slower charging times.
The best overall battery performance
Across all of our tests, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is the standout winner in both battery life and fast charging capabilities. The OnePlus 5T is also a notable performer, particularly in the fast charging space and gaming use case. The same can also be said for the Moto Z2 Force, an all-around admirable performer both in terms of screen-on and charging times.
By comparison, the Sony Xperia XZ1 and Google Pixel 2 XL are pretty disappointing. Offering considerably slower charging times than the best in our group and often struggling to provide consistent use times across our range of battery life tests.
Of course, there’s more to the being the best Android smartphone than just battery life. So check out our other in-depth tests as we whittle down the very Best of Android. Which phone do yohe u think is the phone of the year? Vote in our poll below, as your vote counts towards which device we crown People’s Choice Phone of the Year 2017!
Remember, you could win one of the three smartphones that come placed first, second and third overall! To enter, check out all the details in the widget below and for five extra entries, use this unique code: BOAB17.