MacRumors has pointed out an interesting section of iLounge’s in-depth review of the iPhone 5. The section of note is regarding the device’s battery life, and what they found is kinda surprising. iLounge tested the device under a myriad of conditions such as FaceTime calls, video recording, audio and video playback, and yes web surfing by wifi and cellular networks.
Overall it seems that the device hits pretty close to Apple’s promised numbers for certain activities. However, evidence suggests that the device burns through battery power when cellular signal is weak. The report claims that when cellular signal is weak, the iPhone 5’s antennas work harder to maintain a connection. In doing so, they use more battery power. Compounding the issue, signal strength may be weak for some LTE users at this time, due to network carriers building out this new technology. In turn, this means signals are regularly weak, and the iPhone 5 must fight to keep a connection, and thus battery life kinda sucks.
With no scientific testing of my own to back this up, I have to agree with the report. Several days a week I spend most of my time in an outdated, concrete, soviet-style bunker building at my college. Leaving the iPhone 5 (or for that matter, iPhone 4S) in my pocket, the battery will drain as the device tries to get a signal through the two-foot thick concrete walls. Amazingly, some sort of signal regularly gets through, but is very weak. This destroys my battery life. However, if I switch on Airplane Mode while in class, I lose very little charge by the time I get out.
I also tend to keep the iPhone 5’s screen pretty bright, which also doesn’t help with battery life at all.
I won’t say battery life on the iPhone 5 is bad, but it’s not great. It seems the same as the iPhone 4S’ battery life to me. That said, I believe battery technology is where the next breakthrough will have to be. As these devices keep getting smaller and more powerful at the same time, new batteries will have to adjust accordingly- hold more power in a smaller area.
Chart courtesy of iLounge.