A closer look at the Samsung Galaxy S III: Battery life

Does the Samsung Galaxy S III's battery last a full day?

We've already published our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S III Android phone, but one aspect that we feel needs expanding on is battery life.

As discussed in the review, we believe the Galaxy S III is currently the best Android phone on the market, closely edging ahead of the HTC One X. A key reason why we believe the Galaxy S III is a step ahead is battery life. While still not pushing over the barrier of a full day, the Galaxy S III regularly lasted well over 12 hours during what we would consider a heavy day of use.

Battery life on smartphones is tough to measure accurately for a number of reasons. Firstly, lithium-ion batteries traditionally get better after a few charge cycles, so initial results will always be less than expected. Secondly, everybody has different usage patterns which will affect how the battery is drained, while network performance and reception will also have a big impact on how the battery holds up. Finally, third-party apps will differ between users, so those using plenty of apps that update in the background can expect less battery life than someone who is a bit more diligent in their smartphone use. This is especially profound on Android devices.

I've currently been using the Samsung Galaxy S III for five full days, so I still expect a slight improvement in the coming week or so. The verdict so far is that battery life is good, without being great. As I write this article it's 10:42am and my battery is currently sitting on on 67 per cent. I took the Galaxy S III off the charger this morning at around 6am.

A screenshot of the Galaxy S III's battery statistics.

It is important to note I am a fairly heavy mobile user: on the hour long commute into the office from around 7.00am, my phone is constantly in use. I listen to music for almost the duration of my journey. Lately, I've been using the Rdio streaming music service, which would have a bigger impact on battery life than the regular music app given it streams music using my 3G network. This morning I also used Twitter for a fair chunk of my trip, along with short use of Google's Chrome Beta Web browser (around 10 minutes in total) and a quick check of Facebook.

Once I arrived at work at around 8.30am, I activated Wi-Fi (previously turned off) and also turned off background sync. I use Gmail in the office, so I don't need mobile notifications during office hours. I keep Bluetooth off unless I'm in the car. Generally I will do most Internet-based tasks on my office PC and not my smartphone.

With an afternoon commute home still to come it's clear that the Galaxy S III should last me almost a full day. Yesterday, it sat at around 25 per cent at 6pm. That's almost enough to get me through a full day. This may not be the case for most other people: with less intensive use, the Galaxy S III should definitely get you through a full day without any problems.

Ultimately, how important battery life is will depend on your usage patterns. For me, battery life isn't a huge issue as I can charge the phone at the office. I do the same with my iPhone. It's usually down to around 25 per cent by late afternoon (significantly worse than the Galaxy S III), so I've gotten into a habit of charging it before I leave the office.

So far, the best I have managed to squeeze out of the Galaxy S III' battery is just over 18 and a half hours during a non-work day. The biggest battery killer on the Galaxy S III is a toss up between the screen and cell standby. On this best recorded day, cell standby accounted for 35 per cent of the battery life, with the screen sucking 31 per cent of the battery. As I write this article, the screen has accounted for 32 per cent of juice in just five hours. Delving deeper, that is a result of the screen being in use for 59 minutes of those five hours.

We've managed to push the Galaxy S III's battery to around 18 and a half hours.

Unlike many past Android phones, using the Internet and synchronising applications on the Galaxy S III in the background (like Gmail, Twitter and Facebook) doesn't seem to be a huge battery drain. Google's Chrome Beta browser has accounted for just 7 per cent of the battery today, and only 2 per cent during the best recorded result of 18 and a half hours over the weekend.

What do you think about the Galaxy S III's battery life? If you have any questions or thoughts, battery related or not, please let me know in the comments below!

Related content

Samsung Galaxy S III review
Samsung Galaxy S III plans and prices compared
Where can you buy the Samsung Galaxy S III?
Don't buy the Samsung Galaxy S III outright - it's cheaper on a plan
Samsung releases the Galaxy S III in Australia
Samsung Galaxy S III vs. Galaxy S II: We compare Samsung's Android phones

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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