Apple's new A7 processor is already proving it's worth, supplying impressive standby battery life. It's nice to have a big screen iPad that I don't have to think about charging again.
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iPad Air standby time is proof of the A7’s increased efficiency


Any time a new mobile device is released, we get the same old flurry of numbers and specs. At best, this is usually just a checklist we run down when looking it over. At worst, our eyes glaze over and we completely ignore them because, no matter how well the device actually performs in real life, somehow those numbers always seem to be very similar.

ipad_3_event_invite.jpgWhile Apple tends to be better than average when giving out specs for their new devices, even they bend the truth into odd shapes at times. We were told that the iPad 3 had equivalent battery life to the iPad 2, but in terms of real world usage, that just wasn’t the case. There was certainly good reason for this, being that it was the first iPad with a Retina display. The standby time was similar, and it did just as well as the iPad 2 when listening to music. But once you turned that screen on and started doing more than just web browsing, you could watch the battery percentage tick down like a timer.

In light of the ambiguity and flexibility of today’s tech spec sheet, it’s always a good idea to take note of your real world results with a device to get a better handle on what you can expect in the future. I had one such result jump out at me today in using my iPad Air. For the last two days, I have been so busy at work that I haven’t even gotten it out of my gear bag. I charged it up to 100% Monday night before bed, which was the last time I used it before this evening, when I pulled it back out to use for some work.

Before I go further, I would like to mention something. Even when I am not using my iPad on a work site like the last two days, I’ve never felt comfortable leaving my mobile electronics sitting in a hotel room. It doesn’t matter how nice the place is, or the reputation of the staff, I just don’t do it. Normally I would take my mobile gear bag into a building where I am working so that it isn’t just sitting out in my car, where it could potentially be stolen. However, I happen to be working at an arena with a secure parking garage right now. Knowing that people off the street can’t just walk up to my car when it’s there, I’ve been leaving my bag in there during the day (albeit out of sight).

I note all this because a cold front came through Nashville yesterday, and it was noticeably chilly this morning. Typically, I see an extra drop in battery life if I leave a laptop or tablet in a cold vehicle overnight, which gave me a little pause this morning. However, I thought this might be one of those worthwhile real world usage moments to take note of, so I left it and went to work.

I wrapped up my time on-site at around 4 PM today, and headed back to my hotel. That’s when I got the Air out of my bag and checked it out to see what the battery level was. To my surprise, after over 2 1/2 days of sitting, the battery was still at 95%.

ipad air battery

WOW!!! In the past, I would have expected to see something between 75-80%, so that number really stood out to me.

For full disclosure about my iPad’s power management setup, note the following:

1. My Air is a Wi-Fi model, so it would have only had a possibility of a network connection while at the hotel.
2. Bluetooth was enabled, but was not actively connected to my ZAGGfolio.
3. I always keep automatic app updates turned off.
4. I have several apps set up for Background Refresh, but without a network connection, I doubt this would have had any impact on battery life.

iPhone 5S-1Even after taking my setup into account, I still find a drop of only 5% in 2 1/2 days very impressive. I guess this shouldn’t be such a big surprise, though. I’ve noticed improved standby time with my iPhone 5S, which shares the same A7 processor as the Air. However, my poor phone doesn’t get a whole lot of standby these days, as I am using it all the time during the work day, and a decent amount at night, as well. I’ve never had the opportunity to see what kind of standby time it would get in a similar situation, and probably never will. All that said, the glimpses that I have seen have been encouraging.

Another clue to the A7’s brilliance was revealed just after the Air was released, as iFixit’s teardown showed us that the battery has 24% less watt hour capacity than the one on the iPad 4. To get the same or battery life with this much of a drop in capacity, you have to be incredibly efficient, so it would seem that the A7, the M7 motion coprocessor, and the iPad’s GPU are just that. My experience today may just be one little piece of anecdotal evidence, but considering the hard evidence and the word from many device reviews (including ours, here), this is something we will probably hear a lot about over the next few months.

So this is my little aha moment regarding the Air’s battery life. Do any of you iPad Air owners out there have battery life statistics or experiences, either positive or negative, to share? Are you satisfied with the real world usage you’re getting out of your Air? I would love to hear about it.You can share your thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter @jhrogersii, or on Google+. I would love to hear from you.


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