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How does the iPhone 5 battery life stack up?

Apple tells us that the iPhone 5 offers "even longer battery life" than any of its predecessors, but what does that really mean? Can the new smartphone keep up  with  — or beat — the competition?

Laptop Mag's Mark Spoonauer conducted some thorough tests while reviewing the iPhone 5, just as he does when checking out other smartphones, to find out.

"Our test goes out and surfs 50 of the most popular websites in succession every 60 seconds," he told me, in describing the testing procedures Laptop Mag sets up. "It's meant to mimic how people use their phones. Every minute or so, you might take it out of your pocket and use it."

Laptop Mag

Apple claims that the iPhone 5 has enough battery power to offer "up to 8 hours of browsing on a cellular connection, up to 8 hours of talk time, and up to 10 hours of video playback time." In Spoonauer's tests, the device "lasted 7 hours and 13 minutes."

To put that into perspective, consider that the Samsung Galaxy S III, a key competitor, lasted for six hours and 55 minutes in Laptop Mag's tests. The iPhone 4S lasted five hours and 54 minutes, the HTC One X lasted 5 hours and 59 minutes, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes. The current champ, when it comes to battery life, is the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx, with a battery life of 8 hours and 25 minutes, according to Laptop Mag's tests.

"It simply has a bigger capacity battery," says Spoonauer, referring to the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx. "At some point physics has to take over." There's only so much that Apple's clever software tweaks can do to boost the life of a rather small battery. Of course a device such as the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx stands a chance of outrunning the iPhone 5 thanks to sheer capacity. "It's amazing that it lasts as long as it does, given how small the battery is in comparison to the competition," Spoonauer points out.

"For the [battery] size, I think that the iPhone 5 offers fairly good battery life," he concludes before cautioning that he has seen some complaints about battery life on Apple-centric forums. 

We put a lot of trust in Spoonauer's quantitative tests, though, and until the anecdotal evidence of poor battery performance is overwhelming, we'll maintain our faith in his assessment. This little gadget seems to last "longer on a charge than most 4G LTE phones."

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