Battery life is a difficult thing to contextualize, and fraught with issues in testing. How do you use your phone? How can you compare it to other phones in a meaningful way?
There’s a lot of questions to tackle, but to figure out which smartphone has the best battery life, they’re questions we’re forced to answer. You can read more about this in our how we test page. For those unwilling to click, it’s as simple as:
- Charge the phone to 100%
- Set the display to 200cd/m2 brightness
- Open our custom battery app
- Let it run a test until exhaustion
- lather, rinse, repeat.
Okay, so that last bit is a joke, but it’s a fairly straightforward test that simulates normal use of a phone. It’s probably the most time-consuming part of our lab testing, but it gives us a good approximation about how long a phone will last under a given set of circumstances. We specifically test WiFi browsing, video playback, and mixed use with a proprietary app that you can’t get on the Play Store.
The size of the battery doesn’t matter as much as you think
Before diving into this, I feel like I have to mention the size of the battery isn’t the only thing that determines the battery life. If that were the case, the RED Hydrogen One would have been our winner without doing anything else, and that phone only narrowly beat the 2018 average in our tests. How the phone’s software allocates the use of its hardware matters a lot more.
The Huawei P20 Pro dominates battery life in 2018
This competition was interesting, but it wasn’t close at all. Huawei’s Kirin 970 processor is very aggressive when it comes to saving battery (to the point of impacting performance in other areas), but the P20 Pro has the advantage of an ample power cell as well.
Left to right, the bars in the chart below represent our general use battery test, our video playback test, and then the Wi-Fi browsing test. As you can see, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Vivo V11 Pro can really hold a candle to the longevity of Huawei’s P20 Pro.
Battery rundown tests
It’s not often you get results as clear as this, but when every single phone was tested on the same network, in the same conditions, and with the same display brightness, it’s tough to argue with the results. However, your usage will undoubtedly vary from ours as well. If you place more strain on your processor, or alter the screen brightness: you’ll get different results. But still, gaining an extra couple hours over the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in terms of video playback is insane.
We were surprised the Huawei Mate 20 Pro didn’t have a better showing with its massive battery, but if I’ve learned anything in my years of testing: phones will often surprise you in the real world. This result could be due to some software love needed by the new Kirin 980, or it could be any one of a number of background processes we couldn’t kill. It’s a little strange, but not out of the ordinary to see a phone with a big battery fall short of where you expect. You can always turn down the brightness or toggle battery saver to squeeze out more life — and believe you me, that helps more than it sounds it would.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the fastest charging phone in 2018
Where the Mate 20 Pro doesn’t disappoint is its charging speed. I don’t know if it’s safe or responsible to send 60+mAh per minute to a battery like that, but I have never seen a faster charging phone. It also has the ability to charge wireless accessories — even other phones.
It’s bonkers. In our charging test, we noted how much power the cell retained per minute. Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro almost doubled the average rate of power transfer, which is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor of Home Improvement fame to love. The Oppo R17 Pro comes close, but it still falls a little behind.
Battery charge speed, (mAh/min)
Of course, that’s just the rate of charge. What we’re interested in is just how long it takes to get a full charge on that cell. Here’s where it gets fun:
Battery charge speed, charge to full
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro charges almost twice as fast as the Google Pixel 3 XL. If you only have a couple minutes to spare, you could get a decent charge with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but the Oppo R17 Pro laps at its heels. From left to right, you can see how much charge you get at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, then 60 minutes.
Battery charge speed, Percent
Neat! Lots of phones handle quick charging quite well in our tests. We have the data for all phones in our database, so leave a comment if you’d like to see how another phone stacks up!
While most phones don’t deviate too far from the 2018 average, it’s cool to see models out there really pushing things to accommodate the power-hungriest users. However, because the fastest charging phone and the best battery life don’t exist in the same phone: you’re probably going to want to find a safer middle ground like the Oppo R17 Pro. That model charges quickly, but it also lasts quite a while in our tests. Doing something the best is fine, but you want your phone to do both fairly well. In this one metric, the “best” might not be best for you — just something to keep in mind.
Here’s the list of the top 9 phones in terms of battery life and charge speed:
- Huawei P20 Pro
- Oppo R17 Pro
- Vivo V11 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Xiaomi Mi 8
- OnePlus 6T
- Xiaomi Black Shark
- Vivo Nex
- Xiaomi Pocophone
Huawei has produced the fastest charging device AND longest lasting battery in 2018... just not in the same phone
We have the data for all the phones discussed here, but we’ve highlighted select models to compare. If there’s interest for more, we can accommodate readers in the future. Please let us know if there are any other metrics you’re interested in seeing!
Keep it locked to Android Authority for more from Best of Android 2018: