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Battery Life And Wi-Fi Performance

Apple iPhone 5 Review: CPU, GPU, Battery, Wi-Fi, And Display Testing
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Battery Performance

The iPhone 5 is the first smartphone from Apple with a 16:9 aspect ratio, which works well with media files optimized for those same native dimensions. If you enjoy passing the time watching video, you'll be happy to know that the iPhone is a class-leader, boasting more than 11 hours of playback time with its screen set to 200 nits and Airplane Mode enabled.

Our talk time test is pretty simple. Using a land line, we call each smartphone and stream music over a microphone. This provides a constant stream of input that gets played back, helping keep the connection alive. The screen is naturally allowed to time out, which means LCD power consumption really isn’t a variable in this metric.

If you need a work day's worth of talk time, the iPhone 5 does suffice. However, the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III are clearly better, outpacing Apple's latest and greatest.

As enthusiasts, we increasingly expect to have Internet access on all of our devices, no matter where we are (particularly in light of the speed enabled by 4G LTE). Our hotspot test, which consists of streaming YouTube video, tells us how long we can expect to use these phones as connectivity enablers for other pieces of technology.

Again, each phone's display is allowed to sleep automatically, which helps extend battery life. And surprisingly, Apple's iPhone 5 rises to the top in this metric. That's good news for mobile warriors looking to stay connected on, say, a notebook out of range of a readily-accessible Wi-Fi network.

Did you know that charging from an AC adapter is quicker than charging from a PC or Mac's USB port? Check out the two charts above the the two below; you can shave off quite a bit of wait time by simply hooking your iPhone up to the wall.

We also know from experience that most devices charge from 0% to 90% battery life fairly rapidly, but then slow down quite a bit as they approach 100%. The difference that last 10% makes is clear in both recharge scenarios.

Wi-Fi Performance

In the interest of generating the most real-world results possible, we've been toying with new ways to measure Wi-Fi performance. In the past, we used IxChariot. It’s a professional tool for measuring network performance and helping diagnose issues. However, it's highly synthetic, and we wanted to conduct a test that'd be more representative of a task you might actually perform.

As a result, the throughput numbers we’re generating now come from configuring a local network share and downloading a 1 GB file. It's a simple enough test that should help determine maximum real-world transfer speeds.

The 5 GHz band is really only beneficial to the iPhone 5. Apple's iPhone 4S only supports 2.4 GHz, and the Galaxy S II/III demonstrate similar performance, regardless of the band we use.

HTC's One X does support 5 GHz connectivity, but we encountered an issue whereby it allowed us to browse the Web over the 5 GHz band, but wouldn't let us download our 1 GB test file.

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Top Comments
  • 33 Hide
    g-unit1111 , November 28, 2012 3:19 AM
    Why can't everyone - Apple included - agree on a standardized power adapter like mini USB?? It would make not only our lives easier but the manufacturers who make these accessories able to have one device and on cord that works with everything.
  • 14 Hide
    merikafyeah , November 28, 2012 7:03 AM
    $30 for an adapter........

    Pffffffwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha......HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhohohohohohohohohohoooo...
  • 14 Hide
    acku , November 28, 2012 4:02 AM
    kensingtronGreat article ^_^Second to last paragraph:"For example, Samsung's Galaxy S III has been on the market for a while, and its LCD is a market leader"LCD = AMOLED


    My apologies. On page 6 we mentioned that S3 uses AMOLED. I'll make a correction. Thanks for the shout out.
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 28, 2012 3:14 AM
    Great GPU performance. Apple/PowerVR consistently beat the competition in this.
  • 33 Hide
    g-unit1111 , November 28, 2012 3:19 AM
    Why can't everyone - Apple included - agree on a standardized power adapter like mini USB?? It would make not only our lives easier but the manufacturers who make these accessories able to have one device and on cord that works with everything.
  • -6 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 28, 2012 3:20 AM
    The LCD tests puzzle me a little. Most other reviews said that the SGS3 has a poorer display and the iphone5 has a better display , with much better contrast ratio and sRGB compliance.

    Maybe i am reading it wrong ?
  • 7 Hide
    reprotected , November 28, 2012 3:40 AM
    There needs to be more explanation in the quality of the screens. We all know Galaxy SIII covers a larger colour gamut, but does it beat the iPhone 5 in terms of accuracy is one big thing we want to know based on your eyes, not numbers and graphs.
  • 9 Hide
    kensingtron , November 28, 2012 3:56 AM
    Great article ^_^

    Second to last paragraph:
    "For example, Samsung's Galaxy S III has been on the market for a while, and its LCD is a market leader"

    LCD = AMOLED
  • 14 Hide
    acku , November 28, 2012 4:02 AM
    kensingtronGreat article ^_^Second to last paragraph:"For example, Samsung's Galaxy S III has been on the market for a while, and its LCD is a market leader"LCD = AMOLED


    My apologies. On page 6 we mentioned that S3 uses AMOLED. I'll make a correction. Thanks for the shout out.
  • 7 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , November 28, 2012 5:04 AM
    Excellent article as usual, very comprehensive. Hopefully this helps to dispel some of the performance myths about the iPhone that seem to circulate here on Tom's.
  • 3 Hide
    acku , November 28, 2012 5:22 AM
    mayankleoboy1The LCD tests puzzle me a little. Most other reviews said that the SGS3 has a poorer display and the iphone5 has a better display , with much better contrast ratio and sRGB compliance.Maybe i am reading it wrong ?


    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57524291-37/color-me-prettier-galaxy-s3-display-outdoes-iphone-5s/ Check that one out. :) 

    I'd still like to add an accuracy test at some point. I need to think about how to approach that problem. The way people normally talk about color accuracy (besides deltae and gamma) are sometimes too abstract with color terms that professionals use. I'd like to find a way to present the information in a more intuitive manner.
  • 5 Hide
    ojas , November 28, 2012 6:31 AM
    g-unit1111Why can't everyone - Apple included - agree on a standardized power adapter like mini USB?? It would make not only our lives easier but the manufacturers who make these accessories able to have one device and on cord that works with everything.

    Agreed...though don't most smartphones today use the microUSB B-type connector?
  • 1 Hide
    dare2blink , November 28, 2012 6:53 AM
    Seems apple has not inovated for a couple of years now. I´m shocked that the most inovative and arguably the best phone of the year is not even mentioned in this article. Nokia Lumia 920 is definitely the most inovative na the most complete phone reseased so far. It has much better build quality, a better screen and camera than the iphone 5, not to mention a much more inovative OS.
  • 8 Hide
    vaughn2k , November 28, 2012 6:59 AM
    "The iPhone just doesn't have the magical hold on the smartphone market that it once did."
    yeah and there are more better options out there...
  • 14 Hide
    merikafyeah , November 28, 2012 7:03 AM
    $30 for an adapter........

    Pffffffwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha......HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhohohohohohohohohohoooo...
  • 3 Hide
    darkchazz , November 28, 2012 7:26 AM
    mayankleoboy1Great GPU performance. Apple/PowerVR consistently beat the competition in this.

    True. The low resolutions do help the iphones though. Wish android manufacturers used PowerVR GPUs.
    Instead we get crappy Tegra chips that are not good at anything other than marketing hype.
    If nvidia f***s up gpu performance and memory bandwidth again in Tegra 4, I'm going to stay away form tablets powered by it.

    I'm looking forward to the next samsung galaxy device w/ ARM A15 and Mali600. hopefully the display won't be PenTile.
  • 7 Hide
    halcyon , November 28, 2012 7:28 AM
    That weak-@$$ soft alumiinum body should be tested too. That's a particularly sore spot for me. So much for Apple's nice build quality that the iPhone 4 had. "Handle with care." Everyone is not me so everyone doesn't handle their belongings with care.
  • 7 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , November 28, 2012 8:12 AM
    shompaNo. Why compromise? USB is to limited. To low voltage. Cant do anything beside send data. Its better with a programmable interface that can be used with a bunch of assessors. Its actually ballsy that Apple continues to push the envelope. Just the simple thing that you can put in the adapter any way you want is huge.


    I believe both lightning and USB carry power at 5V. If you can show me a source that says otherwise; that they have an internal stepup/stepdown DC-DC converter; I would be quite surprised.

    USB is a programmable interface. It can be set to a variety of modes, for things like bulk transfer (data), interrupt (guaranteed quick responses; eg keyboards), and isochronous (guaranteed data; eg webcams). These could be, and are, expanded to other purposes such as audio etc.

    Besides; all lightning does is send data. What else does it do that is not data (or power)? Audio is data, files are data, control signals are data. The only upside is that you can put it in both ways, but I prefer compatibility. The number of microUSB cables in my house is uncountable, but I could count on the fingers of one amputated hand (ie none) how many 30pin/lightning cables I have.

    By the way; I assume you think we can never have too many iSheep? Personally I prefer Android, as you can change a whole lot more about it, and the hardware has reached the point where (imo) it's significantly better. And cheaper.
  • 5 Hide
    cinergy , November 28, 2012 8:42 AM
    I love how you ignore Lumia 920 totally in your reviews.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , November 28, 2012 9:26 AM
    Just ran a test on my stock Samsung Galaxy Note II Scored a 2067 all stock. Username is Tripneye to see the results on geekbench
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