- Battery size increased over iPhone 5S despite same-sized chassis
- Longer lasting than similar-sized iPhones
- Still struggles to get through a day on heavier usage
The iPhone SE somehow manages to not only build in a much better battery than the iPhone 5S, but it does so with no extra chassis space to cram extra electrons.
Despite that, Apple has managed to shrink down some of the components inside to plop a slightly larger power unit inside the SE, up from 1,560mAh to 1,624mAh (and that's more impressive when you consider the iPhone 5 had a 1,440mAh power pack).
In our testing though, it was a mixed bag. While it's hard to truly remember how much battery I used to get through on an average day with the iPhone 5S, we do remember it being rather terrible a lot of the time.
It'd regularly be down to 20% by the evening when leaving work - enough to be in the red zone at times - which was a terrible performance for any phone, let alone a top-end flagship handset.
The good news is the iPhone SE is much more capable - but then again, you'd expect that from a phone that's had two years of development, a leaner operating system and the M9 co-processor all to ease the strain on the troubled power unit.
That said, it's fairly easy to run it down quickly, with some days seeing me need to switch on Low Power Mode early at 35% to make sure I made it through the day.
It's fair to say these are the higher-usage days, with things like tethering an iPad and a couple of hours of video watching at full brightness in the mix, but the new glut of flagship handsets are all capable of easily lasting a day with such pressure put on the battery life, and it puts the performance of the iPhone SE into the spotlight.
You'd think the above scenario, where watching video at such a high brightness, would be the obvious reason of the battery diminishing so much - nope, not in this case.
While a trip into the battery settings tries to tell me that video is the biggest battery guzzler out there, the phone was charged to 100% at 10.30AM, a 90 minute Full HD video was run at full brightness and the iPhone SE was left on a desk.
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It only dropped 20% in that time - and while that's far from the best performance we've seen the iPhone SE managed a score that's slightly above average, which is a damningly good result for an iPhone.
So why did it need such massaging come 18.00 that evening? It seems that, despite the co-processor trying to manage down battery life, the iPhone is still a bit chatty when it comes to battery consumption, pinging a little bit here and there and gradually dribbling down.
However, we're keen to reiterate that this was a heavy day on the phone - over the time we've had with it, it's generally been capable of lasting more than long enough for me to not get annoyed.
If you're upgrading to this phone from the iPhone 5 or 5S, you'll be in dreamland with the battery life, trust us.