iPhone 7 Battery Life a Bust? Don't Believe the Hype

Which?, the UK's version of Consumer Reports, is making headlines by claiming the iPhone 7’s battery life fared pretty poorly compared to a number of its major Android competitors. We thought those findings looked a little odd — Apple’s latest phones did pretty well in our battery tests — so we decided to take a closer look at what's going on.

In both call time and web surfing tests, Which? found that Apple's iPhone 7 battery fared worse than the HTC 10, LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7. In that web surfing test, Which? said the iPhone 7 lasted 10 hours and 15 minutes, well behind the 13:10 pace set by the HTC 10.

MORE: iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Review

That’s quite different from what we noticed when testing the iPhone 7. We found the iPhone 7 lasted 9:03 when web surfing, beating out the G5's time of 7:57 and the S7's time of 8:43. However, similar to Which.co's results, our numbers for the HTC 10 (9:56) were the best of the bunch. So what gives?

First, Which? tests its phones using a 3G network instead of 4G LTE like we do here at Tom's Guide. That’s probably a reflection of LTE networks in the UK — network testing firm OpenSignal says the UK has poor LTE coverage — this difference would impact any battery life testing. In general, browsing over 4G LTE is more efficient than 3G, and this difference may have put the iPhone 7 at a disadvantage thanks to its smaller (1,960 mAh) battery.

Second, a big part of Which?'s testing involved measuring talk times over 3G, which isn’t that revealing a stat in our opinion. These devices may be called smartphones, but using them to make calls may be one of the least frequent tasks we use them for. How many people would ever be able to call someone for 12 hours straight, let alone the nearly 31 hours of call time that Which? got on the HTC 10?

We also find it a big strange that Which? did not include numbers for the iPhone 7 Plus. It sports a 5.5-inch screen and a 2,900 mAh, making it a better comparison for the LG G5 (5.3-inch screen, 2,800 mAh battery) and the HTC 10 (5.2-inch screen, 3,000 mAh battery). It’s likely the iPhone 7 Plus would have fared better in a comparison with the S7, S7 Edge, LG G5, and the HTC 10.

In our tests, the 7 Plus lasted 10:38, beating all those phones. The 7 Plus also topped the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge, which scored 10:09 on our battery test.

So if you see headlines claiming the iPhone 7’s battery life lags behind other flagship phones, it’s worth taking a closer look at the numbers. You’ll find that the iPhone actually stacks up quite well against most competitors.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).