Android to iPhone Day 31: Battery Life and Closing

Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2015 - 09:46 AM |
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android, A9

PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.

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It has been too long since my last update to this story, and I promised a final answer when it comes to our view of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in terms of battery life. If you remember back to some of our previous posts, the iPhone 6s actually has a smaller battery in it than the previous iPhone 6 did; the same is true for the Plus model as well.

Model Battery Size
iPhone 6 1810 mAh
iPhone 6s 1715 mAh
iPhone 6 Plus 2910 mAh
iPhone 6s Plus 2750 mAh

Clearly Apple knew that would be a contentious specification change from year to year, but the company has clearly done a lot to make sure it doesn't affect the battery life and usability of the iPhone. First, the new Apple A9 SoC is built on a smaller process technology; both Samsung and TSMC are making chips for the phones at 16nm and 14nm, and along with that process technology change comes an inherent power efficiency gain. Changing process nodes does not always magically make an existing architecture better performing or more efficient, but Apple's engineers are more than capable of being able to achieve that. After all, when you have unlimited funds and an edict never make a misstep, it helps.

The other change that came with the iPhone 6s and Plus is the move to iOS 9, which promises to improve battery and processing efficiency along the way. In the past, we have all heard rumors or had experiences with users of older phone models seeing decreased performance or decreased battery life when upgrading to the latest version of iOS. That may be the true, and I am not going to attempt to validate those claims here today, but it does make some sense that the latest OS would be tuned for the latest hardware.

If you're Apple, you don't want to have to make the battery in the new phones smaller than the old phones. It's a line item in a review that stands out to the general consumer - "WHAT? This year's model has a SMALLER battery??" - and could have a dramatic impact on sales and perception. But Apple also couldn't make the new phone any thicker as the same immediate response would take place. In order to add in support for the new 3D Touch and Taptic Engine technology the phones had to sacrifice a bit of space behind the screen. The result is a slightly thinner, and smaller capacity, battery.

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Image source: iFixit iPhone 6s Teardown

But let's talk about usability. In several instances in this series of editorials I have mentioned my extremely positive impressions from battery life in my normal use. The phone just seems to last longer than my Motorola Droid Turbo did, even with the Droid Turbo's much larger (3000 mAh) battery. Apple's control over the operating system, and to some extent the amount of interaction and capability that third party applications have, allows them to do more with less. And as a result you can drastically improve surrounding experiences: phone size, weight, design, included hardware features, etc.

There have definitely been days where my iPhone 6s would have been dead before I made it to my bed had I not had an external battery with me. But those were always extreme cases and include little to no service at a camp ground with the family, a wedding where I took hundreds of photos and videos, a 7am to 2am day where we had a site maintenance issue and I was on the phone (yes, talking!) for several hours in total. I don't think there is a scenario of use where the Android devices I have had would ever surpass the battery life of the iPhone 6s. And that's an impressive feat all things considered.

But like many of you reading this, I like hard numbers. Data, graphs and empirical results. To get some numbers I ran the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus through our standard PC Perspective Wi-Fi Battery testing process. We have a custom site that allows us to cycle through legit, real websites in a cycle of 20, pausing and scrolling on each to closely simulate how a user would surf.

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The biggest winner here is the iPhone 6s Plus, pulling in nearly 9 hours of continuous use in our web browsing test. The OnePlus 2, with a battery size of 3,300 mAh, can't keep up with the flagship iPhone product of the class of form factor, able to muster only 7.5 hours of use, a full 20% less than the 6s Plus. The iPhone 6s, using the same Apple A9 processor, pulls in than 6.6 hours of battery life in our Wi-Fi test, more than 1.5 hours more than the LG G4, one of the flagship Android phones of this past summer.

It's not exhaustive, but I think the results speak clearly about where the iPhone 6s stands in the current smartphone ecosystem. It has outstanding battery life, though there are plenty of rival Android phones on market currently that could match it. The key difference is that Apple is able to do it with less physical battery, and thus make a sleeker device. Seeing the added battery life of the iPhone 6s Plus does make me wonder if I would be willing to sacrifice my pockets for the extra security it offers. What I really want though is an iPhone 6s that is a bit thicker, offering up the same level of battery capacity as the larger phone. I know many users would be willing to swap the cache of sexy iPhone industrial design for the ability to make last call without a wall plug completely reliably.

Wrapping up the Experiment

It's been just over 30 days now in my Android to iPhone experiment, so the big question needs to be answered: will I be sticking with the iPhone 6s or going back to one of the newer Android devices like the refresh Nexus phones?

The Apple iPhone 6s will stay in my pocket.

Honestly, the answer surprises me - I did not expect this result when I placed the order button on Apple.com those many weeks ago. I have always been a proponent of the openness of Android, the flexibility that offered in terms of applications and OS access, but at the end of the day, I'm just a person using a phone. I have had only one instance of a crash/lock up on the iPhone 6s in my usage and it is reliably fast and responsive, something that eventually faded on the Droid Turbo. The camera takes fantastic photos, the application ecosystem offers more range than the Google Play Store and the global integration of Touch ID makes using LastPass less frustrating, accessing my eTrade bank accounts quicker and much more. Those are just some of the reasons for the switch for me.

I don't propose that everyone should make the same move. If you are a power user that likes to root your phones and change Android ROMs, you won't really find the same level of support for that on iPhones. If you welcome side-loading applications easily to your device (which is something I do miss) for development or experimenting purposes, Android is still the way to go. But it's hard to see the majority of the consumer base of smartphones in this country using both devices for extended periods and not see Apple as the more polished and friendly experience. That's what happened to me.

I look forward to trying out the upcoming Android phones in the near term and I won't ever say that I won't be switching back. Google continues to push the OS development further and offers features sometimes years of ahead of Apple. I'm working on getting both a 6P and 5X Nexus phone to try out; I'm curious to see how the implementation of the fingerprint sensor and improve cameras might shift my view.

And who knows, maybe in early 2016 we'll see a revamped editorial series going back to Android, or even Windows Phone? Easy now, don't get crazy Ryan.


October 29, 2015 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You jest about the windows phone, but I'm currently using a Nokia 1520 and it’s been a love/hate relationship.

I love how smooth windows is but the App marketplace is horrible. The interface between my blue tooth car stereo and phone is spotty. With android based phones Pandora would start up automatically when connected to the stereo, but with windows you have to manually start pandora. God help you if you get a text or need to check your phone, any music player ( pandora, Iheart, built in music, ETC...) your using might auto close while looking at your phone.

The built in office is gimped, depending on how complex a formula in a cell is, it may just be converted to text. The built in maps feature is nowhere near google maps quality.

In spite of all this, windows is so smooth and responsive along with the battery life. It may be the large battery in the phone, but I can go 2 days without charging on normal usage for me.

October 29, 2015 | 10:36 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

My wife is having the same conversation for different reasons. Her's is about memory because she is a pictures and videos person. I'll give her this article because she needs a new phone and needs to decide.
I have an L2 that has a battery that lasts all week while her i4 has to be on the charger daily. She love my battery life, but I hate the idea of having to replace it and Android now has the Windows 8/O365 motif which I despise and it doesn't let you go back. My phone also started to have more heat flashes with the newer Android updates and I haven't added any App Crap- it is just sukking.

Still takes great pictures. That is all.

October 29, 2015 | 11:28 AM - Posted by Dr_Orgo

I wasn't surprised by this result. I switched from an HTC 8X with Windows Phone to an iPhone 6 and couldn't be happier. iOS and the iPhone just gives such a polished experience. I will 100% stick to iOS until Android and Windows Phone have their update policies fixed.

This is coming from a PC user.

November 2, 2015 | 05:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That will never happen...they don't have Apple's clout....and I hate Apple BTW !

October 29, 2015 | 11:40 AM - Posted by TiHKAL (not verified)

I did the same thing roughly a month ago due to update policies and am almost ashamed to admit that I am really happy with my iOS experience.

I have the 6s as well.

October 29, 2015 | 12:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Updates are also why I'm finally considering an iPhone. I've resisted so far because the iPhone has always been a trendy, "life-style-choice-brand" product, which I loath.

On the other hand, after moving from Blackberry to Android in 2011, the Android devices have had horrible updating. Exactly one of my devices has received an OS update in that time. Once. To make matters worse, they're always somehow models that aren't supported by Cyanogenmod, so even the open source nature of Android can't help.

October 29, 2015 | 12:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Stop buying cheap, budget Android handsets. Purchase a flagship like a Nexus, Galaxy S, Xperia Z, LG G, etc.

October 29, 2015 | 01:03 PM - Posted by TiHKAL (not verified)

I've never purchased a budget android phone. I've just never purchased a Nexus device.

October 30, 2015 | 05:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, the flagships receive an update or two(my one phone that got a single update was a flagship), but so many OEMs drop them like they're hot when the new flagship comes out. It's easier to just buy a new midrange phone every time a new OS version comes out. It's really my only gripe with Android.

October 29, 2015 | 12:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I really, really *want* to dislike the iPhone... but I can't. It's just a better experience overall for me.

October 29, 2015 | 12:29 PM - Posted by Shawn (not verified)

The Droid Turbo has a 3900 mAh battery, not 3000. And I have to try very hard to kill my battery in a day. I average 36-48 hours on a single charge, which includes moderate usage with web browsing, gaming, news apps, etc. The longest I've gone was about 54 hours on a single charge, taking of off the charger at 8 am and having it die at about 2 pm two days later.

October 29, 2015 | 12:58 PM - Posted by Patrick (not verified)

I myself am finally giving Apple a honest test. I started with the very first Droid and never looked at anything else specially Apple. I have a 6s plus coming from a note 4. I kinda miss the stylus but not that bad. I dislike the keyboard and having to change to the numbers and punctuation screen vs a long press. iPhone calls for a lot of extra touches like it's made by a women jk. The back button is also a bit of a miss. iPhone has been fast, no leg and glitch free so far. Battery has been better then my note 4. Another great has been iMessage living in a new area with weaker service but on wifi at work and home. Messages to my wife get through without a resend. I know there are android wifi appe but like to stay with manufacturers message apps. Another plus is iMovie. Found nothing as good on android for GoPro edits. Pat

October 29, 2015 | 01:11 PM - Posted by Daniel Meier (not verified)

I tried going from the Samsung Nexus phone to the iPhone 5, absolutely didn't like the feel of the phone in my hands so got rid if it around a month after i bought it. Went back to the Nexus line again but this time the Nexus 5.

The thought have crossed me to try out the iPhone 6, but the new Nexus phones look interesting as well. The latter is a bit more interesting personally. I have a house full of various Apple products already ranging from tablets, to 5 different iPods and a couple of MacBooks so its not like i need one more. When you have seen iOS on one device you have seen it on them all, Android keeps things new and fresh. For me at least.

October 30, 2015 | 07:13 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

New Nexus 5X rocks! I love mine.

October 29, 2015 | 01:30 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Ryan, sad to see you leave Android. I respect your decision, just feel that the timing is unfortunate. You should have tried the new Nexus 5X and 6P before making the final decision. Also, as Jerry from Android Central made it very clear: if you really want to experience Android to the fullest, Nexus is the only way to go (http://www.androidcentral.com/android-security-nexus-matters)

October 29, 2015 | 03:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I haven't messed with an iPhone since I floundered about on a 3GS for 3 years, but I've never failed to be impressed by the Android phones I've used since then.

I ditched the 3GS for a Samsung Captivate Glide, the Galaxy-class phone that had a slide-out keyboard that, as it turned out, I never used. (I think I just wanted it because I used to use the heck out of the slide-out keyboard on my HTC Hermes (Cingular 8525) back in the day.

When I dropped the Captivate and smashed the screen up (first and, so far, last time I've ever dropped a phone, and I blame the alcohol) I bought a second-hand Galaxy Note 2. And promptly fell in love with the stylus. I'm now using a Galaxy Note Edge and I'm still perfectly content and impressed.

Incidentally, I still have the iPhone 3GS - it sits in a cradle and functions as a battery-backed-up alarm clock now.

October 29, 2015 | 11:49 PM - Posted by johnc (not verified)

The phones have kind of caught up to each other by now. They don't have as many differences as they used to.

October 30, 2015 | 07:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You mean Apple keeps catching up to Android and Google keeps leaving them behind, only to be copied again.

Apple is no longer an INVENTOR. They are innovators, taking existing ideas and tweaking them. There's an entertaining video out there regarding how Apple really hasn't invented anything. Maybe 1 or 2 things, out like 30 things that people suggested Apple invented.

October 30, 2015 | 08:22 AM - Posted by ThorAxe

Having used iOS, Android and Windows Phone, you will have to take my Lumia from my cold dead hand.

November 2, 2015 | 10:38 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

Phone to use, phone to user, Repeat after me: "Kill yourself before leaving Microsoft. Kill yourself before leaving Microsoft. Kill yourself before leaving Microsoft. Kill yourself before leaving Microsoft. Kill yourself before leaving Microsoft."

:rolleyes:

cya at the next better product.

November 2, 2015 | 05:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

There is truth to that. New WP 10 OS should be out soon.
Butter-smooth and unique OS others are copying elements from.
My phone MUST have a camera button !

October 30, 2015 | 08:26 AM - Posted by DavidP (not verified)

Android will always be the best option for me. When you look for a phone, you should find one that fills your needs but with Apple products you can't do that and there's always flaws in their design. The iPhone is good but has fatal flaws, the screen resolution is either weird and not high enough and the speakers are awful. If you like media consumption then it's not an option. iOS has the same flaws, I want to customise the launcher to my needs but that's simply not possible because there's no settings or a way to install a different launcher.

October 30, 2015 | 07:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I carry both an iPhone 6 (work) and the new Google Nexus 5X (personal phone).
I personally prefer the new Nexus phone over the iPhone. I find it much more versatile and as certain articles out there stated, the fingerprint reader is MUCH faster than the iPhone. The phone is also faster to perform functions.

The iPhone has a clean look to it but I like the performance of these new Nexus phones and since it's pure Android, I don't expect it to become bogged down like the others. My older Nexus 5 still runs like a champ but I have since handed that to my wife, who is now enjoying it more than her prior iPhone.

October 31, 2015 | 06:04 PM - Posted by razor512

One area where apple is really good, is power management of their smartphones. It sucks that they use low capacity batteries, but the power management helps them to last a decent amount of time.

They just need to keep their power management and move to a larger capacity battery (4000mAh will due nicely).

A smartphone is not very smart or useful if you have to essentially use it like a feature phone if you want the battery to last all day without a recharge.

If apple really wants to dominate, they should make the iphone offer the option to run android,in addition to adding a larger user replaceable battery and micro SD card slot.

e.g., you buy an iPhone and it will come with the latest version of iOS, but if you want, in the itunes software when you connect it to your PC, you can select an option to run android instead.

November 2, 2015 | 10:19 AM - Posted by Adam D (not verified)

All cellphone batteries should be at least 3000MAH. 4000MAH would be wonderful if they could mass produce a small efficient 4k MAH battery. the screens keep getting bigger so why aren't our batteries.

November 2, 2015 | 05:34 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Congrats Ryan...Go ROYALS !
I love the name and team colors.
Our Angels didn't even make the playoffs though we won it in 2002.

November 2, 2015 | 05:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Droid Turbo2 with nice wood back via Moto Maker for me ....King of the hill on the best network !

November 2, 2015 | 05:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Compare that iPhone battery life to Droid Turbo2 when it comes out : )

November 3, 2015 | 03:32 AM - Posted by Ultramar

Evil Corp has you now Ryan...

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