The Galaxy S24 Ultra and OnePlus 12 have surpassed the iPhone — here's how

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra S Pen.
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to phones, one of the few things I take very seriously is battery life. Part of it stems from owning more than my fair share of phones with abysmal battery life, and the fact my Pixel 6 Pro still can’t get through a single day without needing some kind of power boost. And for phones that cost several hundred dollars, that’s not good enough.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter how powerful your phone is, or what fancy marketing MacGuffins are being promoted this year, that phone is more or less useless if there’s no battery left. But the first major phone launches of 2024, the OnePlus 12 and Samsung Galaxy S24 series, give me some hope that the days of shoddy battery life may be over. In fact, the best Android phones now outlast the latest iPhones. 

Battery life has come a LONG way in just one year

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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Row 0 - Cell 0 Battery Life (Hrs:Mins)
Asus Phone 8 Pro*18:48
OnePlus 12R*18:42
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate18:32
OnePlus 12*17:41
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra*16:45
Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus*15:47
iPhone 15 Plus 14:14
RedMagic 8 Pro14:14
iPhone 15 Pro Max14:02

* Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip 

This time last year, our best phone battery life page looked very different. For starters the iPhone 14 Pro Max was in second place, having scored 13 hours and 39 minutes in our exhaustive battery life test. The only phone ahead of it was the ASUS ROG Phone 6, a gaming phone with a monster 6,000 mAh of battery, which clocked in at 15 hours and 30 minutes.

This year the iPhone 14 Pro Max has moved down to 11th place. 10 other phones have arrived that knocked it off its podium, and the current leader (the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro) lasts 5 hours and 9 minutes longer. Granted, two of the usurpers are also iPhones, but the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max are in 8th and 10th place, respectively. Which just goes to show how much better batteries are on other phones.

Typically jumps like this come down to the efficiency of the phone’s chipset, alongside various other power-saving optimizations the phone maker has included. Which is why Apple usually does so well in our battery life testing. In the case of our list, it’s clear that having a semi-recent chipset can go a long way towards improving battery life.

5 of the Android phones on our list have the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which was prominent in last year’s flagship phones. The efficiency on that chip was so high that the Galaxy S23 saw a massive jump in battery life — two and a half hours more than the Galaxy S22. But the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 seems to have pushed that trend to a new extreme.

2024’s biggest trend may be incredible battery life

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

It’s clear that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is having a big impact on battery life already, and we’re barely into the second month of the year. Qualcomm promised that the chip would offer improved efficiency, and it seems like the chipmaker was not not exaggerating.

Some may try and argue that the addition of extra battery capacity in the latest wave of flagship phones is to blame. That’ll definitely have an impact, especially on phones with power-hungry features like QHD displays. But at the same time you have to remember that the Galaxy S24 Ultra packs in the same 5,000 mAh battery as the Galaxy S23 Ultra — but still lasted an extra 3 hours and 36 minutes during testing.

Over 13 hours of continuous use may be good enough for some people, but pushing that time up closer to 17 hours is even better. I don’t even care what the reason for the increase is, whether it’s more efficient components or the presence of an enormous battery pack. There is no situation where having a better battery life can be seen as a bad thing. 

Yes, even those failed Energizer phones that had all the style and fashion sense of a brick. They looked ridiculously unwieldy, and took forever to charge, but the 18,000 mAh battery did promise 50 days of battery life on standby. Energizer may have botched the landing, but at least it tried to offer more than a single day’s use.

Right now there are 6 phones rocking a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset on our best phone battery life page, and 5 of them are in the top 6. It’s hard to compete with a phone that has a 6,000 mAh battery like the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, no matter how much more efficient the new component in your phone might be.

It’s enough to make me wonder what the rest of 2024 might have in store for us where battery life is concerned. There are a lot more phones expected to arrive later this year, and despite some disappointing rumors about Gen 3 adoption, there will be a bunch of them rocking the latest Snapdragon chip and all the benefits that entails. 

Bottom line

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review.

(Image credit: Future)

There’s no telling what the rest of the year will bring, but both Samsung and OnePlus have got off to a very good start. Both in terms of offering excellent phones, and in adding several hours to their phones’ battery life. Heck, not only does the $499 OnePlus 12R have a fantastic battery life, it’s also the second longest-lasting phone we’ve tested. 

The past several years have felt like phone makers have been emphasizing charging speeds a lot more than battery performance. But that seems to have changed more recently, with major battery life boosts from the likes of Apple, Samsung and OnePlus. Which is better for everyone since it means we can keep our phones running for longer, without having to carry a bulky battery pack or make a dash for a spare power outlet. 

All it needs is for the other phone makers to offer similar levels of battery life improvement as the OnePlus 12 and Galaxy S24. Now it's Apple's turn to go even further with the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.