An iPhone 12 battery test shows that the new models take a huge hit to their battery-life when using 5G data.
The standard model iPhone 12 lost almost exactly two hours of battery-life when using 5G compared to 4G, and things were even worse with the iPhone 12 Pro …
Tom’s Guide put the two new models through its standard battery-life test.
Here’s how the Tom’s Guide battery test works. It surfs the web continuously at 150 nits of screen brightness, launching a new site every 30 seconds until the battery drains.
But this time, it added in an additional element.
For the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, we ran this test over 5G and 4G, and the difference was pretty dramatic.
The iPhone 12 managed 10h 23m on 4G, but that fell to 8h 25m on 5G – a drop of 1h 58m.
The iPhone 12 Pro dropped even further, from 11h 24m to 9h 6m – a fall of 2h 18m.
The site also compared to Android 5G smartphones, and the comparisons mostly weren’t good.
Samsung’s Galaxy phones generally last longer on a charge over 5G, though they lose a lot of juice when their screens are set to the faster 120Hz refresh rate. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S20 lasted 9:31 on 5G but that dipped down to 8:04 at 120Hz.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus lasted 10:31 over 5G, which is nearly 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12 Pro. The runtime of Samsung’s phone dropped to 8:55 at 120Hz, which is slightly worse than the iPhone 12 Pro over 5G.
The OnePlus 8T is another Android phone that outlasts the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. It turned in a runtime of 10:49 at 60Hz and 9:58 on 120Hz, both over 5G.
Google’s Pixel 5 was nearly an hour better than the iPhone 12 at 9:56; it dropped to 9:29 with the screen set to a faster 90Hz refresh rate. Both of those times are well ahead of the iPhone 12’s 8:25 result over 5G.
Apple is clearly aware of the issue, as it added an iOS feature to intelligently switch between the slower and faster data speeds.
Apple said it optimized iOS to take advantage of 5G speeds whilst maintaining power efficiency. The iPhone 12 includes a Smart Data mode that switches between 4G and 5G data speeds intelligently. In ideal conditions, Apple says customers will see 3.5Gbps download speeds.
However, Tom’s Guide says that you may still need to switch manually.
When you’re not surfing the web, the iPhone 12’s Smart Data mode can automatically switch to 4G to help save battery life. But this only kicks in during certain scenarios, such as when you’re streaming music with the screen turned off.
Overall, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro battery life is a bummer over 5G, at least when surfing the web. So you may want to manually switch to 4G in some cases to save extra juice.
The site does acknowledge that the iPhone 12 battery test is a relatively demanding one, so you may fare better, but it still provides a good basis for comparison between 4G and 5G, and against competitor models.
Early reviews of the iPhone 12 mostly reported that 5G support is not the headline news with the new models: the new design and camera upgrades are the bigger draw.