Apple's iPhone battery life claims are exaggerated, claims UK watchdog

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According to new tests conducted by UK consumer watchdog Which?, Apple is greatly overestimating the battery life of various iPhone models, with the iPhone XR falling particularly short of the manufacturer's 25-hour talk time claim.

The independent organisation tested nine recent iPhone models, finding that they all underperformed when it came to battery life, offering anywhere between 18-51% less runtime than Apple's claims about the devices, with the iPhone XR being the worst offender – a finding that actually conflicts with our own iPhone XR testing, where we noted that it "offers the best battery life of any phone from the Cupertino brand."

Which? states that,"the [iPhone XR] battery lasted for 16 hours and 32 minutes, whereas Apple claimed that it would last 25 hours" when it comes to talk time. Apple was quick to respond to the Which?'s claims, unsurprisingly standing behind its products.

“We rigorously test our products and stand behind our battery life claims," said Apple in a statement provided to Business Insider, further claiming that "With tight integration between hardware and software, iPhone is engineered to intelligently manage power usage to maximize battery life." The statement continued, "Our testing methodology reflects that intelligence."

What about other manufacturers?

Apple isn't the only phone manufacturer allegedly exaggerating its battery life figures, with Which? also calling out HTC's talk time claims, albeit to a much lesser degree – an average talk time of 19.6 hours was found to be 5% lower than HTC's claim of 20.5 hours.

In contrast to the above findings, Which? found Samsung, Sony and Nokia to be underestimating the average talk times of their devices, and while it doesn't offer exact figures for most handsets, it did praise Sony's Xperia Z5 Compact for providing 25 hours and 52 minutes of talk time – almost 9 hours more than the manufacturer's 17-hour claim.

It's worth noting that the consumer watchdog's testing methods are slightly vague, only stating that it used fully-charged phones and timed continuous phone calls until the devices eventually gave out – no mention was made regarding screen brightness, background processes or notifications.

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.