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Apple’s New iPhones Have An Unfixable Problem

While they hide some great secret features, even Apple AAPL -0.74% has been forced to admit its new iPhone XS (details) and iPhone XS Max (details) were shipped with problems. The good news is Apple fixed most of them, but new tests confirm there is one it can do nothing about…

Putting to bed questions about real-world performance, popular YouTube site PhoneBuff enlisted the help of robotics and discovered that for all the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max’s incredible CPU performance, battery life is a mess. Particularly the bigger model.

What PhoneBuff discovered is the iPhone XS Max, the largest and most expensive iPhone ever made, couldn’t get close to the battery life longevity of its primary rival: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9. In fact, when the iPhone XS Max died the Note 9 still had a massive 37% battery life remaining.

 This is a shock for several reasons.

Firstly, while the Galaxy Note 9 has a larger battery, it’s only 20% larger (4,000 mAh vs 3,174 mAh). Secondly, the Note 9 has a higher resolution display and driving pixels is the most demanding thing a phone does. Thirdly, the Note 9’s Snapdragon 845 chipset is less efficient than the remarkable Apple 12 chip in the iPhone XS Max.

All of which points the finger at software. Apple claims iOS 12 is the fastest and most efficient generation of iOS to date. Apparently not.

But what makes these tests so interesting is PhoneBuff’s attention to detail.

The battery life test PhoneBuff uses was one year in the making, it uses a temperature controlled environment and calibrates the screen brightness and speaker volumes of both phones to be identical. Moreover, the entire test is conducted with a robotic arm ensuring the exact same pattern of taps, app usage and even reaction times as it navigates through phone calls, messaging, web browsing, social media, video and gaming tests.

In short: this is as close to a perfectly controlled real-world battery life test as it is possible to achieve.

Ultimately, the iPhone XS Max comes up very short indeed. Something previous tests had also suggested, but PhoneBuff rubber stamps. And since the iPhone XS lasts even less time than the iPhone XS Max, Apple’s new smartphones fall so far short of the competition there’s no way to bridge this gap through software updates. The Note 9 isn’t even the longest lasting Android phone.

I argued in my iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max comparison that Apple had shortchanged users when it comes to battery capacity and “insanely slow” charging. And now we know for sure. So if you plan to upgrade to a new iPhone this year, then the decision is easy because the iPhone XR is not only the cheapest and most interesting, it has much longer battery life too. – Forbes

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