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Samsung Galaxy S3: Battery life

UPDATED: The Samsung Galaxy S3 uses a 2100mAh battery, but what does that actually mean for the upcoming flagship?

With the increasing demand for power, the world of consumer electronics garners, it’s no surprise that battery technology at times finds it hard to keep up. Mobile device in particular full under heavy scrutiny when their battery performance is under question.

Considering the amount innovation which has occurred in the world of mobile, battery technology seems to be of the least talked about fields. You’ll notice that despite any major announcements regarding battery technology over the past decade, a comparison between a feature phone from 2002 and a feature phone from 2012 can demonstrate just how much more efficient devices have become.

First off, for clarification, the unit of battery capacity, milliamp hours or mAh, is used to discern how big the battery is.

Looking purely at the figures tied to leading smartphones currently on the scene, the Galaxy S3 sits at the upper end of the scale. Taking a handful of similarly capable premium/flagship devices, we have the Samsung Galaxy S2 (the S3’s predecessor) with a 1650mAh cell, the 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note with its large 2500mAh cell, the only other quad-core smartphone currently available in the form of the HTC One X with its 1800mAh cell, the iPhone 4S with a 1432mAh cell, and the Motorola RAZR MAXX with its mammoth 3300mAh cell.

The key thing to note is devices with exceptionally large or powerful components such as the Galaxy Note’s huge screen or the HTC One X’s quad-core chip, will drain a battery faster than on a smaller or less powerful device.

The HTC One X for example barely made it through a full day of use and required some pretty drastic power management tactics to keep it running on a single charge (lowest screen brightness, data syncing off when not in use etc…). The quick drain most likely comes down to a combination of the powerful Tegra 3 chip inside and the beautiful but hungry 4.7-inch LCD on the front.

Screen technology is another area that plays a major role in battery drain on mobile devices. AMOLEDs such as the ones used on the Samsung Galaxy S and S2 and S3 have typically shown their worth as more power efficient displays. The key advantage of AMOLEDs is that unlike LCDs which have to render blacks (usually as very dark greys), AMOLEDs can switch off pixels to represent black saving power.

As long as Samsung takes care to optimise its internals, including that Exynos 4 Quad and the 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display, than the 2100mAh cell on its back should provide enough juice to keep it running, without you having to run to the charger.

UPDATE 31/5/12: We had to speculate ahead of the S3’s launch as to what to expect from the battery performance. As quad-core smartphones go, we’ve only had the HTC One X to go by and performance, especially when stressing that Tegra 3 chipset, really ate up the percentage.

Our time with the Samsung Galaxy S3 has put our worries to rest as performance is stellar without compromising on battery life, even when using more intensive functionality such as gaming or the device’s unique floating video window to play an HD movie. Mixed use of the S3 provided us with a days comfortable use, but smartphone users have grown accustomed to charging their device nightly anyway, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. What’s more, the battery drain during stand-by is negligible, which slots nicely in with Samsung’s impressive quoted figures for standby.

Based on our experiences with the S3’s battery, new users won’t be disappointed by its balance of performance and longevity.

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