‘Great Secret Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.
It all comes down to one of Apple’s most neglected features and buyer’s most important: battery life.
On its official specs page, Apple says the iPhone XS will last just “30 minutes longer” than the mediocre battery life of the iPhone X but look closely and you’ll notice that not only are most specs identical, but talk time on the iPhone XS has actually decreased an hour.
How does this happen when Apple also claims the iPhone XS A12 chipset is 50% more efficient at low power than the iPhone X? Now we know.
Thanks goes to TENAA, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, (via MyDrivers) which requires all phone makers to declare the battery capacities of their devices – something Apple chooses not to list on its site. And what Apple’s filing for the iPhone XS reveals is the company oddly decided to fit a smaller battery than it used in iPhone X.
So while the iPhone X had a disappointing 2716 mAh capacity battery, the iPhone XS drops this to 2,658 mAh.
The capacity drop becomes even more curious when a teardown of the iPhone XS by FixjeiPhone reveals the iPhone XS has a single continuous battery, whereas the iPhone X had to crowbar two batteries side-by-side. The single battery should be more efficient, but you can literally see Apple cuts corners and width on the top half of the iPhone XS battery.
Consequently, the only conclusion I can make here is Apple deems the battery life of the original iPhone X to be “good enough”. But this isn’t an iPad where the company’s unwavering “10 hours of usage” since generation one, really is good enough.
Instead, the stagnation in the iPhone XS feels like a deliberate attempt to upsell users to the much longer lasting iPhone XS Max, whose battery TENAA reveals is a significantly larger 3,174 mAh.
Needless to say, Apple will claim space is too constrained for a bigger battery in the iPhone XS but Samsung managed to fit a 4,000 mAh battery in the Note 9 and that handset is lighter than the iPhone XS Max, has no notch, a virtually identical screen-to-body ratio (83.4% Vs 84.4%) and a headphone jack.
And here’s the kicker: It’s not theoretical to say Apple could do better because, thanks again to TENAA, we know it already has – with its cheapest new model.
Apple’s filing with TENAA for the iPhone XR reveals it has a 2,942 mAh battery. That’s 9% larger in a phone with a display that’s just 5% bigger. And predictably, the iPhone XR’s battery life beats the iPhone XS hands-down. Not bad for a device which costs $250 less.
So, while there’s a lot to admire about the iPhone XS, I have my doubts about whether it is meant to be anything more than a driver to the iPhone XS Max. The irony of which is I expect most potential iPhone XS buyers will instead drop down to the aggressively priced iPhone XR…
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