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The best tablet for battery life (isn’t an iPad)

Want to find a tablet with decent battery life? We tell you which model has the most stamina in our lab testing.

One of the joys of a tablet is the all-day battery life the best tablets give you. Whether you’re watching Eastenders in the garden shed, browsing eBay on the bus or reading an eBook by the pool, you don’t want to be tied to a power socket. But how long should you expect a tablet battery to last before it’s time for a recharge?

A tablet can be packed with the fastest processor and the sharpest screen. But if its battery life is lacklustre, then it loses a lot of its appeal. That’s why we test tablet battery life to see which models can go the distance.

Find your ideal tablet with our Best Buy Tablet reviews.

iPad battery versus other tablet battery life

Apple’s iPad range has long been noted for its impressive staying power, but we’ve found that it can be beaten. While the original iPad Air holds an impressive eleven hour battery life. Interestingly, that’s three hours longer than the newer iPad Air 2 model. But it’s a Samsung tablet that tops the list. At thirteen hours, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A will very nearly last you an entire waking day.

That’s enough time to watch the Godfather trilogy all the way through, with four hours spare for writing a scathing review of the third instalment.  It’s also half the price of an iPad Air 2. To find out how Samsung’s tablet stacks up in our testing, read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A.

In the past, we’ve criticised the stamina of Microsoft’s Surface Pro range. While they’re beefy and powerful machines, they fail to impress when it comes to battery. The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 I5 managed a measly five hours for battery life, which is far from ideal if you’re out and about for the day. However, this issue seems to have been addressed with the Surface Pro 4 range to some degree, with the Microsoft Surface Pro 8GB I7 model managing seven hours. Not likely to impress anyone, and a way off its nearest competition, the Apple iPad Pro 12.9, which manages 10 hours, but an improvement at least. Is it enough for the £1,300 price tag though?

How we test tablet battery life

We test the battery life of every tablet in our lab thoroughly. We record the length of time you can expect a tablet to last when browsing on wi-fi (and 4G, if applicable), plus how many hours of video playback you’ll get. We usually find video playback length is longer than web browsing, so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re a big film fan or TV binger. We tell you how long the battery lasts for each tablet in our reviews.

We can tell you if the hours quoted on the back of the box are realistic, or pure fantasy. In some cases, we’ve even found the claimed battery life of a tablet to be conservative, with the actual results out doing the manufacturers own estimate.

Of course, battery life is only a small component of a tablet. There are many further important factors to consider, and we test them all. From startup speed, screen quality, how easy the tablets are to use and how they handle the latest apps, we cover ever facet of tablet use in our test.

You can see our full results for the latest and greatest tablets in our reviews.

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