Apple iPhone 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: All rise

GSMArena team, 25 October 2012.
Pages: 123456789101112

Battery life

Awesome features are great, but a phone with a flat battery is about as useful as a paperweight. This is why a long-lasting battery is a major consideration when buying a new phone.

We test for three use cases - talking, browsing and watching videos - and give each phone a battery rating, which is an estimated time between going from full charge to empty if you do each of those activities for an hour each day.

Before we begin, let's check the stats. The iPhone 5 has a 1,440mAh battery, while the Galaxy S III has a beefier 2,100mAh battery. Both phones use chipsets designed by their respective companies, so let's see how well they did.

Good, old-fashioned talking is either the most important feature of a phone or a secondary feature, depending on who you ask. Still, if you didn't care about telephony you'd probably be reading an iPod Touch vs. Galaxy Player comparison.

The bigger battery on the S III keeps it going for 10 hours and 15 minutes, but the iPhone 5's modem proves very efficient and its talk time is 20 minutes shy of the 9 hours mark. In either case you're unlikely to run the battery dry with just voice calls, but if you forgot to charge your phone, the S III will give you more call time than the iPhone 5.

Talk time

  • Motorola RAZR MAXX (ICS)
    21:18
  • Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
    20:24
  • Motorola RAZR i
    20:07
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100
    16:57
  • LG Optimus G
    15:30
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    12:30
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    12:14
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    11:58
  • Samsung Wave 3 S8600
    11:07
  • HTC One X (AT&T, LTE)
    10:35
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    10:20
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III (JB)
    10:15
  • HTC One V
    10:00
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    10:00
  • HTC One X
    9:57
  • HTC One S
    9:42
  • Samsung I9103 Galaxy R
    9:40
  • HTC Sensation XL
    9:30
  • Nokia Lumia 710
    9:05
  • Motorola Atrix HD
    9:04
  • HTC Vivid
    9:02
  • HTC Rhyme
    8:48
  • Apple iPhone 5
    8:42
  • LG Optimus 3D Max P720
    8:42
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V
    8:41
  • Meizu MX
    8:39
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    8:35
  • Nokia Lumia 800
    8:25
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    8:23
  • HTC Desire V
    8:20
  • Samsung Captivate Glide
    8:20
  • Sony Xperia T
    8:15
  • HTC Rezound (LTE)
    8:10
  • Samsung Galaxy Note (LTE)
    8:02
  • LG Optimus Vu
    7:57
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    7:41
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    7:41
  • Samsung i937 Focus S
    7:25
  • HTC Evo 4G LTE (LTE)
    7:21
  • Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G
    7:14
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    7:09
  • Samsung Rugby Smart I847
    7:09
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro
    6:57
  • Nokia N9
    6:57
  • HTC Radar
    6:53
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos
    6:53
  • BlackBerry Curve 9380
    6:52
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    5:54
  • Nokia Lumia 900 for AT&T (LTE)
    5:53
  • Sony Xperia ion LTE
    5:52
  • Sony Xperia P
    5:33
  • Nokia 808 PureView
    5:16
  • LG Nitro HD (LTE)
    5:16
  • HTC Titan II (LTE)
    5:10
  • BlackBerry Bold 9790
    5:00
  • Pantech Burst
    4:46

The mobile web browsing has been eating into traditional desktop browsing for several years now and is a defining feature of smartphones. Apple pulled off a small miracle and the iPhone 5 can surf the web over Wi-Fi for 10 hours straight, while the Galaxy S III last "only" 6 and a half hours.

Not that anyone would browse the web on a phone for 6 hours straight, but you have to keep in mind that a smartphone gets used for a number of things throughout the day. The more battery-efficient browsing on the iPhone 5 will leave more battery for other activities (e.g. it will balance the scales if you talk and browse a lot).

Web browsing

  • Apple iPhone 5
    9:56
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX (ICS)
    9:12
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100
    8:48
  • Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
    7:23
  • HTC Radar
    7:17
  • Motorola RAZR i
    7:06
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    6:56
  • HTC One V
    6:49
  • Motorola Atrix HD
    6:40
  • BlackBerry Curve 9380
    6:40
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III (JB)
    6:27
  • Samsung i937 Focus S
    6:15
  • Sony Xperia ion LTE
    5:56
  • Samsung Rugby Smart I847
    5:53
  • Pantech Burst
    5:51
  • Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G
    5:45
  • HTC Desire V
    5:44
  • HTC Evo 4G LTE
    5:41
  • Samsung Wave 3 S8600
    5:34
  • Sony Xperia T
    5:33
  • Samsung Captivate Glide
    5:33
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    5:28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note LTE
    5:24
  • HTC Sensation XL
    5:20
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    5:19
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    5:17
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    5:16
  • HTC Rezound
    5:16
  • LG Optimus G
    5:15
  • HTC Rhyme
    5:08
  • Samsung I9103 Galaxy R
    5:07
  • HTC One X (AT&T)
    5:03
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro
    4:50
  • LG Optimus Vu
    4:49
  • HTC Vivid
    4:46
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos
    4:45
  • Meizu MX
    4:35
  • Nokia N9
    4:33
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    4:24
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V
    4:20
  • HTC One X
    4:18
  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4:14
  • LG Optimus 3D Max P720
    4:10
  • Nokia Lumia 900 for AT&T
    4:10
  • Nokia Lumia 800
    4:07
  • HTC Titan II (LTE)
    4:05
  • HTC One S
    4:03
  • BlackBerry Bold 9790
    4:02
  • LG Nitro HD
    4:00
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    3:59
  • Sony Xperia P
    3:59
  • Nokia Lumia 710
    3:51
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    3:47
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    3:35
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    3:23
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    3:01

Now that the iPhone has a 16:9 screen, watching videos is finally comfortable (practically all new content uses that aspect ratio). Plus, video playback is one of the areas where making the screen taller really makes a difference (it doesn't do much for web browsing, for example).

But speaking of size, the Samsung Galaxy S III clearly has the advantage here (a TV set is never too big). Anyway, the playback times for both phones are separated by about 40 minutes with the advantage going to the iPhone. That's the length of a single episode of a "one hour" show (not counting breaks).

Video playback

  • Motorola RAZR MAXX (ICS)
    16:35
  • Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
    14:17
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100
    11:27
  • Apple iPhone 5
    10:12
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    10:01
  • Nokia 808 PureView
    9:53
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    9:42
  • Samsung Rugby Smart I847
    9:34
  • HTC One S
    9:28
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III (JB)
    9:27
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    9:24
  • HTC Evo 4G LTE
    9:07
  • Nokia N9
    8:40
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    8:25
  • Motorola RAZR i
    8:11
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    8:00
  • Samsung i937 Focus S
    7:55
  • Samsung Wave 3 S8600
    7:52
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V
    7:45
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    7:38
  • Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G
    7:33
  • Samsung Galaxy Note LTE
    7:30
  • LG Optimus G
    7:16
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    6:33
  • HTC Desire V
    6:26
  • HTC One X (AT&T)
    6:26
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos
    6:25
  • LG Optimus Vu
    6:23
  • Samsung I9103 Galaxy R
    6:21
  • HTC Sensation XL
    6:12
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    6:06
  • Samsung Captivate Glide
    6:04
  • Sony Xperia ion LTE
    6:03
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    6:02
  • Sony Xperia T
    6:01
  • Motorola Atrix HD
    6:01
  • HTC Vivid
    6:00
  • HTC Radar
    5:54
  • Nokia Lumia 800
    5:52
  • HTC Titan II
    5:50
  • BlackBerry Bold 9790
    5:47
  • HTC One X
    5:45
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro
    5:44
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    5:38
  • Pantech Burst
    5:38
  • Meizu MX
    5:27
  • HTC Rhyme
    5:23
  • HTC One V
    5:20
  • Nokia Lumia 900 for AT&T
    5:18
  • BlackBerry Curve 9380
    5:09
  • HTC Rezound
    5:03
  • Sony Xperia P
    4:30
  • LG Nitro HD
    4:17
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    4:14
  • LG Optimus 3D Max P720
    3:28
  • Nokia Lumia 710
    3:27

With advantages in two out of the three categories, the Apple iPhone 5 manages to snag a narrow victory, but the Samsung Galaxy S III is close behind thanks to efficient standby. While you'll probably be charging both phones at least every other day, the iPhone 5 will give you more web browsing time, while the Galaxy S III will offer some extra talk time.




A hardware design difference comes into play here - it's quite easy to carry a second battery for the Galaxy S III and pop it in when the first one is depleted, doubling the battery life (or tripling it - third party batteries are quite cheap). With the iPhone, the only way to up the battery life beyond what's offered out of the box is to use one of those unsightly extension packs.

Winner: Tie

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