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Mobile phones with the best battery life

By Oli McKean

No one wants a smartphone with poor battery life. Read on to discover the mobile phones that excel in our battery tests.

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When you’re out and about, you simply don’t want to be worrying about whether your mobile phone will make it through the rest of the day. Here, we reveal the best and worst mobile phones for battery life – and give you tips on how to prolong it.

It’s 1pm. You’ve used your phone for reading and replying to a few emails, quickly catching up with the news, and making one or two calls. But the battery has significantly depleted already, and you’re unsure when you’ll next be able to charge it.

Unfortunately, this is a frustrating reality for many of us. While we ourselves are ready for a day of activity and engagement, our phones seem to be readily scheduling their next nap.

We’ve tested hundreds of smartphones, and found huge differences between phones for battery life. For instance, we’ve unearthed smartphones that offer more than 30 hours of continuous calls from a single charge, while some can’t even muster five. And while some phones would let you browse the web tirelessly for more than 10 hours, others give up after less than three.

A smartphone can be an expensive piece of kit. So the last thing you’ll want is to splash out on a phone that needs seemingly constant recharging.

Below, we’ve highlighted three of the best (and two of the worst) mobile phones we’ve found for battery life. Our battery life star rating is based on exactly how long each phone lasts when making calls and browsing the internet – as well as how long it takes to charge from flat to full.

We also explain our quick-charge test, and our top tips on helping prolong your phone’s battery.

If you’re simply looking for the best smartphones you can buy, head straight to our Best Buy mobile phones.

Mobile phones with the best battery life

Which? score 87%
Reviewed Mar 2016
Best Buy
Battery:
5 out of 5
Quick charge battery life:
5 out of 5

This smartphone has a battery big enough to give the Duracell bunny a run for its money, lasting more than 28 hours of talk time or almost 12 hours of browsing the internet.

Which? score 68%
Reviewed Nov 2016
Battery:
5 out of 5
Quick charge battery life:
5 out of 5

This phone will see you through the day no problem, powering through either 26 hours of call time or more than 12 hours of using the internet.

Which? score 68%
Reviewed Dec 2015
Battery:
5 out of 5

26.5 hours of call time and 12 hours of web browsing make this phone a superstar in our battery life tests.

Which? score 55%
Reviewed Aug 2016
Battery:
1 out of 5
Quick charge battery life:
1 out of 5

This phone manages a paltry 8.5 hours of call time, or just over five hours of web browsing. Plus it takes almost 3.5 hours to charge from flat to full, which is very slow.

Which? score 15%
Reviewed Jun 2016
Battery:
1 out of 5
Quick charge battery life:
1 out of 5

Laughable battery life - this model can't manage even seven hours of call time, and musters just over five hours of web browsing. Plus it takes ages to charge from flat to full.

Our quick-charge battery life test

Life isn’t predictable, so you won’t always have a few spare hours to fully recharge your phone before you leave the house for the day.

That’s why we’ve added a quick-charge battery life test to our mobile phone assessments. We charge each phone for 15 minutes from flat, and then test how long each lasts when making continuous calls. We then repeat this test, but examine how long it musters while browsing the web.

As with our standard battery life tests, we find huge differences between phones in this test. The best phones give over three hours of call time, or more than two hours of web browsing – which should be enough to see you from A to B before you have a chance to recharge your phone.

On the other end of the spectrum, one phone offered a frankly laughable 15 minutes of call time or eight minutes of web browsing.

Our top tips on boosting your phone’s battery

While there’s a limit to how much you can prolong your phone’s battery life, there are a few things you can try:

  • Turn down the brightness, and avoid the 'auto' setting. The biggest drain on a phone's battery is its display, so turn down the brightness to the lowest level that's comfortable for your eyes. Also try to avoid the 'auto brightness' setting. While it might be convenient to have your phone automatically adjust the display, most are not terribly efficient at doing this, and switching the display brightness up and down is another common battery drain.
  • Consider using a dark (or black) wallpaper. It won't transform your phone's battery life, but every little helps. If you're not too bothered about which wallpaper you use, a darker style will mean less power is needed to illuminate coloured pixels.
  • Switch off wi-fi and Bluetooth when you're not using them. Even if you're not connected to wi-fi, your phone will still search for a wi-fi signal unless you disable it - which uses up your battery. Bluetooth is also a battery drainer - so make sure you turn it off when you're not using it.
  • Use power-saving modes. These are handy for when you're not really using your phone but you don't want to turn it off, either. Most smartphones have power-saving modes (Power Save for Android and Low Power Mode for iPhones) you can use that will automatically disable all your device's power-sapping features.
  • Keep apps updated. App updates often include optimisations, so it's nearly always a good idea to use the latest version. But try to avoid running these updates while you're on the move!
  • Turn it off! This might seem extreme, but if you know you're not going to use your phone for a few hours, it can't hurt to turn it off. You can also enable Flight Mode, which will avoid having to wait for it to start up, and can still help to avoid battery drain.
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