Here's a fact of tech life. For as much freedom as your shiny new gadget can give you, you're still limited by one very frustrating component - its battery.
Regardless of how fast your data plan, how fancy your display is and how cutting edge it is, your smartphone is absolutely worthless without juice. What's the use of having all the groundbreaking tech if your smartphone battery can't even last through a full day?
Thankfully, smartphone makers are already making strides in improving battery life. How? By optimizing software and by sticking in a bigger battery.
But compared to its competitors, is Apple doing enough to improve the iPhone's battery life? Critics are saying that its not enough.
Read on to see why tests show that the iPhone XS Max's battery is still lagging behind.
iPhone XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9
A detailed test conducted by PhoneBuff revealed that the iPhone X Max, which has the largest iPhone battery yet at 3,174 mAh, still can't hold a candle against the battery life of a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the results are not even close.
Based on PhoneBuff's findings, after a sequence of the exact same tasks, the iPhone X Max drained down to zero while the Note 9 still had 37% of juice left.
We know that there will always be performance differences between two smartphones, give and take a few minutes here and there, but not with this wide of a discrepancy. PhoneBuff claims that they even ran the same tests twice with the same results.
The Note 9's large advantage in battery longevity is quite surprising given that the iPhone XS Max runs on a much more efficient 7-nanometer A12 Bionic chip (compared to the Note 9's 10-nanometer Snapdragon 845).
Also, although it is expected that the Note 9 will outpace the iPhone XS Max with its much larger 4,000 mAh battery, the large disparity is interesting.
Granted, the tests ran the iPhone XS Max on a resolution of 2688 x 1242 while the Note 9 was set at its lower default resolution of 2220 x 1080. The results may have been closer if the Note 9 was tested at its maximum resolution of 2,960 x 1440.
We are hoping that PhoneBuff will do a similar test with both phones maxed out with their resolutions too. Additionally, we would have loved to see an iPhone XS Max going against a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, which has 3,500 mAh battery. That's a much fairer test, in my opinion.
PhoneBuff's battery test
But what's probably more interesting is PhoneBuff's test itself.
PhoneBuff said that its battery test took a year to develop and it uses a robotic arm to replicate the same taps and app usage on the phones that are being tested.
The test also uses a temperature-controlled environment and accurately leveled sound and brightness levels for the most consistent results.
Here's the order of the tests:
- A one-hour phone call to the same number
- Text message conversation
- Email test
- One hour web browsing
- One hour Instagram feed scrolling
- One-hour YouTube video
- One hour gaming
- One hour of maps
- One hour of Spotify
- One hour of Snapchat
As revealed by the video, the iPhone XS Max's battery dwindled down to zero on test no. 8 - the one-hour Maps test. At the same stage of the test, the Note 9 still had a 37% charge!
And the Note 9 still managed to operate for hours after that, completing a one-hour Spotify music streaming test and partially completing the final one-hour Snapchat test.
Yep, the results weren't even close. The Note 9 simply trumped the iPhone XS Max in terms of battery longevity.
Is the iPhone XS Max's battery still not big enough?
This test just shows that compared to similarly sized Android phones, the iPhone XS Max still sports a smaller battery and may have a hard time keeping up.
Even though Apple may have optimized iOS 12, used a much more efficient processor and crammed a 3,179 mAh battery in the iPhone XS Max, it still can't match the longevity of its 3,500 to 4,000 mAh equipped Android competition.
Obviously, since this is a purely physical hardware difference, not even software fixes can bridge the battery life gap. Maybe Apple will start considering a much larger battery in the next iPhone Max model to keep up with other plus-sized Android flagship phones.
But to be fair, the iPhone XS Max still beats out both the iPhone X and the iPhone XS. However, the iPhone 8 Plus still has the best battery life among all iPhones. We'll have to wait and see if the upcoming iPhone XR will be able to dethrone it.
Are the new iPhones worth it? Tap or click below to listen to Kim's opinion.
Research: Smartphones with the best batteries
The iPhone XS Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 are not the only big-battery equipped smartphones out there. Tap and click here for our full list.