iPad (2012) Battery Life

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So, I’ve been using the new iPad for a couple of days now, and thought I’d post some quick thoughts on battery life. I haven’t quantified anything (and might not; my purpose here isn’t to just repeat a thousand other quantitative analyses), but in general I can say that the iPad is both excellent and frustrating in this respect. That’s becoming a general theme with the iPad…

Standby

First, the iPad’s standby battery life is excellent. I put it to sleep at 11:30 PM the other night with 12% battery remaining, and woke it back up at 7:30 AM. There was still 12% remaining. That’s impressive, and in general I’ve found that the iPad uses almost no power while it’s asleep. And, that’s with email and other apps syncing in the background and notifications staying up to date.

The ASUS Transformer Prime (ATP) uses about .5%/hour on standby, which is also decent but not nearly as impressive as the iPad’s performance. In the ATP’s defense, it’s Android and has a number of widgets running at any given time, and theoretically at least is doing more in the background. But so far, I’ve found no distinct advantage—the ATP isn’t any more up-to-date than the iPad when it wakes up, and so the iPad’s standby performance seems to come at no meaningful cost.

Standby battery life is vital for a tablet, simply because one of its most compelling advantages is that it’s always available. It wakes up instantly and holds a charge when not its not being used. While the 4% battery life that the ATP burned while on standby for the same amount of time might not seem significant, it means it has 8% remaining while the iPad has 12%. That’s an extra 30 minutes or more of use, which can be important for finishing an important task.

Mostly, though, it demonstrates just how well Apple has optimized the iPad for this specific performance characteristic. And again, I’d be singing a different tune if the iPad woke up and was way behind in email and notifications. But it’s not, and that’s what makes it so impressive.

In Use

Generally, I can’t tell a difference between the ATP and the iPad in terms of how long it lasts while being heavily used, with one exception. Both burn battery life while gaming, for example, and sip power while reading an ebook. But, the ATP seems to use an inordinate amount of power while browsing. Since browsing is one of a tablets’ more common uses, this gives the nod to the iPad. Both the ATP and the iPad can be used for hours and hours at a time, but I get the distinct impression that the iPad will last longer for what I use it for. However…

Charging Time

Here’s where the iPad displays its somewhat schizophrenic nature. It takes forever to charge. Whereas the ATP takes around two hours to charge from 0% to 100%, the iPad takes over six hours. I let the iPad run all the way down yesterday morning and started charging it at around 11:00am. It didn’t hit 100% until 5:30 PM. That’s 6.5 hours, which is simply too long, and it tends to remind a person that the iPad needs a really, really large battery to keep up with the ATP. As an aside, I’m looking forward to seeing how the Transformer TF700T performs with a higher resolution screen.

Conclusion

I’m most impressed with the iPad’s standby life, and I think Apple deserves some kudos for giving it such good battery life in spite of that monster screen. I wish it didn’t take so long to charge, but I suppose there has to be a tradeoff somewhere. But, the typical iPad user likely has to pay more attention to battery status than the typical ATP user, to make sure to allow for sufficient time to keep the iPad charged up. Does that impact the iPad’s usefulness? It all depends on a given individual’s needs, I suppose, but it’s certainly something to think about.

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