Following last week’s preview of the new iPhone 13 series A15 chip, which we were hugely impressed with due to its efficiency gains, we promised to take a closer look at the battery life of the new phone and the link between the new generation of display and screen efficiency. with the efficiency of the SoC and the increase in battery capacities of this generation.
This year’s new iPhone 13 series has shown tremendous promise in terms of battery life, as Apple has improved this aspect of the devices through a host of different enhancements. All new phones feature next-gen screens, especially the new Pro models which have new variable-refresh screens, as well as increases in battery capacity. After a few arduous days of battery life tests, we can draw some very positive conclusions:
LTPO and new OLED emitters?
Among the most notable new tech introductions on this year’s devices is the addition of “Pro Motion” on the new iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models, essentially high refresh rate displays reaching 120Hz. Apple here is also joining the LTPO VRR club, which means the new phones introduce variable panel refresh rates, with Apple promising the new screens will vary between 10 and 120Hz in a set of discrete refresh rates available – similar to this. that we had seen on Samsung HOP showing up in the Note20 Ultra last year and the Galaxy S21 Ultra this year.
Beyond VRR technology, this year’s phones also benefit from new, more fundamental panel technologies, such as new OLED emitters, allowing either lower power consumption or increased maximum brightness. To deepen this part, we revisit our luminance power curves of the different devices to have a better view of what is happening under the hood.
To avoid confusing display sizes in the mix, we limit the comparison to Apple’s traditionally identical form factors across generations, starting with the iPhone 11 Pro, followed by the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro generations, and the new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro.
For starters, what may be somewhat surprising is the fact that the Pro models in the iPhone 12 and 13 series consume more power than their non-Pro counterparts. We skipped this measure in our review of phones last year, which surprised me somewhat. Measuring the data multiple times, always getting the same results, and regression testing with other power data such as CPU power showed almost identical numbers between the phones, so there was no difference. methodology. It’s not entirely clear to me why this is happening, especially on the 12 Series. There were rumors that the 12 Pro was Apple’s first 10-bit display panel, and that would make sense given the increased power consumption compared to the 12 and 11 Pro models, but we didn’t have never been able to verify it properly.
On the iPhone 13 series, there are a few complex behaviors to consider: First, the iPhone 13 Pro and its LTPO panel significantly lower the phone’s minimum base power consumption by around 100mW. This is not much of a surprise as this is also what we had known about Samsung’s LFDs – but with the difference that Apple apparently does not place any restrictions on its low refresh rate player, so at this point Regardless, Apple is definitely introducing an uncompromising 120Hz VRR implementation here. Although 100mW doesn’t sound much, when using phones with lower screen brightness, it can be a significant percentage of the device’s overall power consumption and significantly increase battery life for newer models. iPhone 13 Pro.
Second, for the standard iPhone 13 model, what I expected is that Apple would essentially inherit the iPhone 12 Pro panel from last year and put it in non-Pro devices this year, because it This is how Apple at least announced the new phones. However, looking at the power curves here, we see that these are very different generations of panels, with the new iPhone 13 showing a noticeable reduction in power coupled with a more efficient next-generation OLED emitter material. The jump here is hugely significant and compares to the further increase in transmitter efficiency we’ve seen on the S21 Ultra this year.
Comparing the 13 to the 13 Pro, the phones have quite different curves – while the 13 Pro uses less power to display full white up to 140 nits, the regular 13 becomes more efficient afterwards. We also see different shapes of curves, which means that the phones are driven differently when it comes to their PWM and emitter voltages. Without more technical information, I have no proper explanation for the results, I can only say they are consistent.
Another thing to add is the fact that with this year’s Pro models, Apple is finally adding a dedicated high-brightness mode that only works in high ambient light. The 13 Pro, in manual brightness mode, will only go up to 853 nits. In auto-brightness mode in a dark environment, the screen will scale up to 625 nits, while in a bright environment, it delivers the full 1059 nits, meeting and exceeding the 1,000 nits promise made by Apple.
Apple had mentioned that the new iPhones last longer than their predecessors, but as always, this was their own run time in hours. Physically new phones come with bigger batteries, and after the first few teardowns we can get a proper context as to their capabilities:
|Apple iPhone 12 vs 13 battery capacities
The differences here vary depending on the exact model – the 13 mini and 13 Pro get the smallest increases at +8 and + 10% respectively. The standard iPhone 13 sees a larger increase of + 14.6%, while the Pro Max certainly sees the largest generational increase at + 18% capacity. In terms of absolute capabilities, although Apple has cranked things up to respectable proportions, by comparison the phones still have pretty tiny batteries, especially compared to the Android competition, where a small phone is expected to have at least 4000mAh. , and big phones have apparently standardized around 5000mAh. The new Pro models are also extremely heavy this year, both due to the new cameras and the bigger batteries – I don’t want to know how much more they would weigh if they had even bigger batteries.
The resulting battery life results
By combining SoC efficiency, display efficiency, and larger batteries, we rely on our trusted battery life test to examine the end results. The test consists of varied content from popular sites, with mixed APL, dynamic scrolling, and realistic delays between content loading and playback pauses between scrolls.
Starting with the results at 60Hz, we can make proper generational comparisons with the iPhone 12 series. As a reminder, we unfortunately never looked at the 12 mini or 12 Pro Max due to the release date discrepancy. , they are therefore absent from the results.
All new phones feature extremely large generational gains over their predecessors. For the iPhone 13, we have 34% better results than the iPhone 12, which exceeds the increase in battery capacity by + 14.6%. The new efficiency of the SoC as well as the increase in energy efficiency of the display would explain the rest of the difference.
The iPhone 13 Pro tracks an almost identical runtime as the 13 – the Pro’s 4.1% smaller battery is slightly offset by the more efficient display, but what these results show us is that under the same 60Hz refresh rate, the new LTPO screen in Pro models doesn’t really have an efficiency advantage over non-LTPO models – although both have generically more efficient screens compared to their predecessors. .
The iPhone 13 mini has adequate battery life at 10.7h, although it is clearly below average, while still keeping pace with devices with massively bigger batteries.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max beats the charts here at 21.68 hours. We miss the 12 Pro Max, but it’s significantly longer than the 11 Pro Max, as well as the ASUS ROG Phone 6000mAh monsters, and also significantly ahead of the S21 Ultras which also have bigger batteries.
Apple’s 120Hz refresh rate appears to work very similar to Samsung’s LFD VRR, in that the display itself can vary between a few discrete refresh rates, ranging from 120Hz to 80.60Hz. and a few other low-frequency refresh rates up to 10Hz. The frequencies presented by Apple are similar to what Samsung exposes in its drivers, which wouldn’t be surprising if they are both based on the same panel technology.
Apple’s practical implementation has some differences on the operating system side however, one thing I noticed is that in the browser content, although scrolling in the window is done at 120Hz, the animations Actual content seems to be limited to 60Hz. This is a difference from current Android devices which also render content animation at 120Hz. I don’t think this is a practical difference in experience. , as interesting as it is. Otherwise, Apple’s Pro Motion on iPhone seems to perform just fine and has no issues.
In the 120 Hz result set, for which the new iPhone 13 Pro models are now the first Apple devices among the competition, the new phones come out directly as the top performers.
The iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max lose 14.5% and 13.5% respectively from their 60Hz results, which is generally the 12.2% degradation that the S21 Ultra sees – you can tell. ask if Apple’s 60 Hz is more efficient than Samsung’s or if Samsung’s 120 Hz is better than Apple’s, the difference is still small.
Considering the 13 Pro Max’s much smaller battery, seemingly similar display technology and efficiency to the S21 Ultra, Apple’s battery life advantage remains in my hands. Reviews squarely on the massive efficiency benefits of Apple’s silicon, with the new A15 further increasing this gap over the competition.
Kings of battery life
Today’s survey of the battery life results of the new iPhone 13 series confirms what many others have already mentioned: This is a significant upgrade from the iPhone 12 generation, with vast increases in all areas. Apple’s new, more efficient displays, larger batteries, as well as the particularly more efficient A15 chip represent a holy trifecta of improvements in hardware features that are hugely positive for the longevity of new phones. There is not much more to say.