A new report by Which?, an advocacy group in the United Kingdom, found that Apple and HTC both overstate battery life on smartphones, sometimes "significantly," which is the case with some iPhone models. In stark contrast, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony all underestimate or are conservative about battery life with the phones that were tested, based on the organization's methods.
"Which? tested nine iPhone models and found that all of them fell short of Apple’s battery time claims. In fact, Apple stated that its batteries lasted between 18 percent and 51 percent longer than the Which? results," Which? said.
The biggest discrepancy belonged to the iPhone XR, one of Apple's newest generation handsets. It launched alongside the iPhone XS Max and iPhone XS, and is the cheapest of the three due in large part to the phone's LCD display (instead of OLED, as found on the other two). The iPhone XR also has a single rear camera, and while it can take portrait photos that allow users to blur the background (through software), it only works on faces.
Apple claims that the iPhone XR has a talk time of up to 25 hours. However, Which? found that the battery lasted for 16 hours and 32 minutes during its own talk time tests. Apple's rated metric is 51 percent higher.
"With mobile phones now an essential part of everyday life, we should be able to count on our handsets living up to the manufacturer’s claims. There are clearly questions here around how long some mobile phone batteries will last and so it’s important to make sure you find an independent source of reliable information when buying your next phone," said Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?.
It seems clear that Which? is using a different method of testing than the manufacturers, but the disparity does not always work against the phone makers. For example, Which? found that Sony's devices lasted 21 percent longer than the manufacturer's own talk time battery life claims.
In other words, don't call it a Which? hunt. Nevertheless, Apple was unfazed by the results, and says its own rated metrics are accurate. #RealityDistortionField in effect much?
"We rigorously test our products and stand behind our battery life claims. With tight integration between hardware and software, iPhone is engineered to intelligently manage power usage to maximize battery life. Our testing methodology reflects that intelligence," Apple said in a statement.
HTC offered up a similar statement in response to Which? finding its phones overstated battery life by 5 percent. The company pointed to "differences in setup and testing environments" that could explain "some variation" in the stated talk time figures.