How Apple Measures iPad Battery Life to Deliver on 10-Hour Promise

The battery life ratings on most gadgets are artificially high, but year after year the iPad has lived up to the battery life claims made by Apple.

Some would say that the 10 hour battery life of the iPad WiFi model is lower than in life.

In order to keep that 10 hour battery life rating Apple doubled down on the new iPad’s battery. In fact if you opened up the iPad, you would find mostly battery.

How does Apple offer realistic iPad battery life claims? Claims that don’t lose 2 hours when real world users start using them. Simple, they use the iPad like a real user, instead of tweaking settings to maximize test battery life and over promise.

ipad battery

The new iPad nearly doubles the iPad 2 battery shown above.

Here’s how Apple tested the battery life of the new iPad. If the tasks look familiar, it’s because they are representative of how many of us use the iPad. Tests include video playback, audio playback, and Internet browsing using Wi-Fi or cellular data network.

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  • Video content was a repeated 2-hour 23-minute movie purchased from the iTunes Store.
  • Audio content was a playlist of 358 unique songs, consisting of a combination of songs imported from CDs using iTunes (128-Kbps AAC encoding) and songs purchased from the iTunes Store (256-Kbps AAC encoding).
  • Internet over Wi-Fi and cellular data network tests were conducted using dedicated web and mail servers, browsing snapshot versions of 20 popular web pages, and receiving mail once an hour.
  • All settings were default except: Wi-Fi was associated with a network (except for Internet browsing over cellular data network)
  • The Wi-Fi feature Ask to Join Networks and Auto-Brightness were turned off.

Notebook benchmarking and smartphone battery benchmarking from most manufacturers overstates the battery life, or focuses on artificial numbers that don’t represent how we use our devices. Smartphones are the worst, quoting call time and standby time, without touching on a use scenario like the one above, which includes video, music and web browsing.

PC manufacturers have gotten better at stating realistic battery life numbers, but rarely explain how they get the numbers.

When we test the batteries on notebooks at Notebooks.com, we use a tool that simulates surfing the web with the screen at 40% brightness, a realistic setting and task for most users. While testing battery life on smartphones and tablets, we use them like you would, loading up email, social network apps and browsing the web.

Hopefully more manufacturers of tablets, and especially 4G LTE smartphones, will share how they come up with battery life claims, and offer more realistic numbers.

Image via iFixit

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