iPhone 12 falls way behind Android phones in this major test

iPhone 12
(Image credit: Future)

While we're generally pretty impressed with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, there’s one thing that has been pulled up in reviews around the world, including ours: battery life.

In our own tests, we found the iPhone 12 family’s battery lacking compared not just to rival Android phones, but also the iPhone 11. 

And it seems we’re not alone. A thorough round of tests from PhoneArena demonstrates the full extent of the problem, with the iPhone 12 proving particularly weak when playing 3D games.

The 3D gaming battery test saw both the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro last just a minute over three hours, while the iPhone 11 lasted seven hours and 37 minutes. Even the Pixel 5 (5:05) and the iPhone SE (4:59) left the new generation of iPhones in the dust.

PhoneArena suspects some kind of poor optimization for the A14 Bionic chip in current games. The site verified the results by installing Call of Duty Mobile and Minecraft, and “in both cases the iPhones got quite warm and the battery just started melting.” Leaving the games would return the phones to normal battery drain.

In other tests, PhoneArena found the iPhone 12 holding its own a bit more. In the web browsing test, for example, the 12-and-a-half hours managed by both the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro is up there with the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Pixel 5 — and it’s nearly four hours longer than the iPhone 11 Pro managed in the same tests.

The same is true for video playback, where the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro’s scores of under seven hours aren’t exactly spectacular, but are at least in the same ballpark as the iPhone 11. All iPhones were comfortably beaten by the Samsung Galaxy S20 (10:20) and the Google Pixel 5 (8:49), though.

Hopefully performance will improve with software updates — especially for gaming battery drain. But we should temper our expectations a little bit here: the fact of the matter is that this generation of iPhones do have smaller batteries, so there are limits to what can be done. While the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro had 3,110 mAh and 3,04 6mAh cells respectively, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro have 2,815 mAh batteries. 

While the difference in size doesn’t explain the huge discrepancy over real-world stamina, anybody hoping the iPhone 12 will last as long as the iPhone 11 during intensive tasks is probably going to be disappointed.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.

  • blootvoet
    I had an iPhone 5 and Apple broke it through an update to iOS 7.04, I think. I now had a Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB and its screen first ghosted, then died and became black. A latent Samsung defect conveniently overlooked by its Mama. Between the two, the iPhone was better and, considering the joys my children have with iPhone SE's, that's the model I think I should replace the Samsung with, OR buy a cheap Chinese HiSense phone and dine out for weeks on the small change.