iPhone 3GS Battery Life vs iPhone 3G vs iPhone 2G

There’s a popular expression, “third time’s a charm.” When it comes to the iPhone, I would say the features on the latest 3GS include many that we have been longing for since the original iPhone days (EG copy and paste, MMS, video recording). When it comes to iPhone battery life, the 3GS performs better than the 3G but the original first gen iPhone still remains king.

My iPhone 3GS Battery Life Documented: Better than my 3G

Like I did with my iPhone 3G, I decided to test out the battery life on my iPhone 3GS. Before we get into it, let’s see what Apple’s battery life claims are. Below is a picture of Apple’s 3GS vs 3G battery life from their website:

iPhone 3GS vs 3G

As you can see, the only differences the iPhone 3GS battery has over the iPhone 3G are:
– 2 hours more of talk time on 2G
– 3 hours more of WiFi internet use
– 3 more hours of video playback
– 6 more hours of audio playback

Here are the settings Apple used for testing internet usage over 3G (these settings are identical for other tests too):

Internet over 3G tests were conducted over a 1900MHz 3G network 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: Call Forwarding was turned on; the Wi-Fi feature Ask to Join Networks and Auto-Brightness were turned off. Battery life depends on the cellular network, location, signal strength, 3G connectivity, feature configuration, usage, and many other factors.

Obviously I didn’t go to the lengths of trying recreate the settings above. I wanted to see how my iPhone 3GS battery would fare under real life conditions. Leading up to my battery test I did a full charge cycle (charging to 100%, then running it down). After that, I did an full 11 hour charge on the phone (to include enough trickle charge) and proceeded to use it like I normally would.

Here are the following settings I used for my iPhone 3GS battery life test:

– screen brightness to 33%, auto-brightness ON
– Fetch every 15 minutes
– 3G on, WiFi on (would connect to home network)
– Auto lock every 2 minutes
– no case, just the invisibleSHIELD (Apple says heat is the #1 battery life killer)

In a typical day I’d use my iPhone to check and reply to emails, check Google Reader, and go on Twitter. During this test I also used the camera to snap pictures and video. Anyways, after everything all being said and done, this is how much I could get out of my iPhone 3GS battery:

iphone3GS_batterylife

A grand total of 5 hours and 20 minutes usage (probably a few minutes more before it died on me) and 1 day, 7 hours of standby. If you recall my old iPhone 3G battery life test, I was able to get 6 hours and 4 minutes of usage, but only 22 hours and 20 minutes of standby. So it seems that my 3G outlasted my 3GS in usage, but the 3GS won in the standby category!

What’s the Verdict? Which Battery Life is Better? iPhone 3GS or iPhone 3G or iPhone 2G?

This is a complicated question to answer. The original iPhone had the best battery life out of all three iPhones, but at the same time there was no 3G connection and GPS to drain the battery. With the addition of 3G and GPS to the iPhone 3G, previous 2G owners were disappointed at the battery life. Now, given that the iPhone 3GS has a faster processor and more memory under the hood, being able to last the same amount of time as the iPhone 3G is pretty decent I’d say in my books.

However, we’re also paying a premium to use the fastest iPhone right? Shouldn’t our battery life last even longer?! Some people might argue “my friends with Blackberries can have their phones go for DAYS without charging!” (solve this problem by getting new friends) Sure, that’s great but most Blackberries (sans the Storm, at 3.25″) have puny screens compared to the iPhone. Double that screen real estate and then we’ll see how much battery life you have left!

iPhone Users Are Glued to their Phones More than Any Other Cellphone User

As iPhone users, I think we tend to forget just how much more we use our phones with that large 3.5″ screen. Constant Safari, email, Twitter, YouTube, GPS, iPod, etc. would drain any battery on any device quickly. Another thing to keep in mind is that the iPhone 3GS would typically use more battery life anyways, given its processor/memory has been upgraded.

Which would use more gas? A Honda Civic with a stock engine, or one with a modified turbocharged engine? Apple made the iPhone 3GS battery better than the 3G given the new internal specs. As for a battery life that accommodates the expectations of everybody out there, that is still up for debate. But compare the iPhone 3GS battery with other direct competitors out there (think Palm Pre) and I would say it’s pretty decent at the moment. Battery technology is evolving and we can expect more juice from all companies as time goes on.

My iPhone 3GS was able to last me with almost a day and a half usage. I normally charge my iPhone every night, so I rarely run into battery issues. And if I do, I always have either a car charger or back up battery with me! You can still follow these tips on increasing your iPhone 3GS battery life.

How long have you been able to use your iPhone 3GS battery for? Let’s hear it both your Usage/Standby times in the comments!

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • MichaelS

    The battery life of my 3G has significantly decreased after I updated to OS 3.0. I now get about 70-80% usage time compared to what I used to get when my 3G was on OS 2.2.1. Hopefully, the newly released (for developers) OS 3.0 will address this issue.

    Happy Canada Day!

  • MichaelS

    The battery life of my 3G has significantly decreased after I updated to OS 3.0. I now get about 70-80% usage time compared to what I used to get when my 3G was on OS 2.2.1. Hopefully, the newly released (for developers) OS 3.0 will address this issue.

    Happy Canada Day!

  • MichaelS

    I meant to say ‘…the newly released (for developers) OS 3.1.’

  • MichaelS

    I meant to say ‘…the newly released (for developers) OS 3.1.’

  • Guest

    I noticed my 3GS without even using, the battery dies faster. Thats not even having any apps running in the background except for stock ones. My 2G, well it dies really fast lol Not sure if its because couple years almost old or the FW3.0? lol
    HAPPY CANADA DAY! EH!

  • Dusty

    I noticed my 3GS without even using, the battery dies faster. Thats not even having any apps running in the background except for stock ones. My 2G, well it dies really fast lol Not sure if its because couple years almost old or the FW3.0? lol
    HAPPY CANADA DAY! EH!

  • Dude

    I have noticed that now the “App Store” on my 3G says there are updates for apps even though I have not started the program. Seems that it runs in the background and this can be another reason for battery drain on OS 3.0

  • Dude

    I have noticed that now the “App Store” on my 3G says there are updates for apps even though I have not started the program. Seems that it runs in the background and this can be another reason for battery drain on OS 3.0

  • mark

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you didn’t seem to be taking into account that the other phones likely had older batteries in them (i’m assuming). In such a case they would have used up more of their charge cycles and performed significantly worse than a brand new 3gs.

  • mark

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you didn’t seem to be taking into account that the other phones likely had older batteries in them (i’m assuming). In such a case they would have used up more of their charge cycles and performed significantly worse than a brand new 3gs.

  • mark

    oh nm, i missed the part where you were comparing it to your old 3g test.

  • mark

    oh nm, i missed the part where you were comparing it to your old 3g test.

  • Cody

    I find my 3Gs lasts longer than my 3G did (after upgrading to 3.0), but one of the newer things in the 3.1 firmware is a battery fix and memory leaks. So maybe we will see improvements soon!

  • Cody

    I find my 3Gs lasts longer than my 3G did (after upgrading to 3.0), but one of the newer things in the 3.1 firmware is a battery fix and memory leaks. So maybe we will see improvements soon!

  • Nick

    If Apple would write a script that when the iphone is in Standby mode or taking phone calls it would switch to Edge rather than 3G it would significantly help battery life… You dont need lightening fast connections when the phone is off in your pocket for push notifications and Voice calls again just dont require the amount of bandwitdth 3G offers only when brousing and surfing the net and downloading emails with attachements etc do you need that speed of 3G so if they could figure out a way to make the phone use Edge for when its in standby and phone calls that would be a good improvement

  • Nick

    If Apple would write a script that when the iphone is in Standby mode or taking phone calls it would switch to Edge rather than 3G it would significantly help battery life… You dont need lightening fast connections when the phone is off in your pocket for push notifications and Voice calls again just dont require the amount of bandwitdth 3G offers only when brousing and surfing the net and downloading emails with attachements etc do you need that speed of 3G so if they could figure out a way to make the phone use Edge for when its in standby and phone calls that would be a good improvement

  • Nick

    yes they have the ability to Disable 3G but it should be a automated thing that switches depending on your usage requirements. Edge requires alot less juice from the battery!

  • Nick

    yes they have the ability to Disable 3G but it should be a automated thing that switches depending on your usage requirements. Edge requires alot less juice from the battery!

  • Cody

    To do that they would have to get switching from 3G to Edge manually (or when you loose 3G signal) more cohesive. If you are in safari, checking mail, or in a game during the switch it always cuts out and they have to fix that first before this function would even be put on the list of things to get around to.

  • Cody

    To do that they would have to get switching from 3G to Edge manually (or when you loose 3G signal) more cohesive. If you are in safari, checking mail, or in a game during the switch it always cuts out and they have to fix that first before this function would even be put on the list of things to get around to.

  • Donald Mann

    Battery life on the 3g or 3gs is crap!!!!! Size matters!!!!
    I would be willing to buy a thicker phone if it would provide decent battery life!!!!!

  • Donald Mann

    Battery life on the 3g or 3gs is crap!!!!! Size matters!!!!
    I would be willing to buy a thicker phone if it would provide decent battery life!!!!!

  • Jeff Taylor

    I love my iPhone and could never go back to a regular cellphone ever again. But there’s no doubt that my old 3G had better battery life than does my new 3Gs. One thing that drives me crazy sometime about Apple in general is their drive to make everything they sell too thin or small. I would totally be willing to buy an iPhone that was a little thicker if it meant better battery life. I mean if you have to disable features to save in the battery then what’s the point ? Also if you have to add a external battery pack to your phone why not just make the phone a little thicker in the first place. I also dint like Apples push for built in batteries in their laptops. I like having an extra battery un my bag for when I need juice on the go.

  • Jeff Taylor

    I love my iPhone and could never go back to a regular cellphone ever again. But there’s no doubt that my old 3G had better battery life than does my new 3Gs. One thing that drives me crazy sometime about Apple in general is their drive to make everything they sell too thin or small. I would totally be willing to buy an iPhone that was a little thicker if it meant better battery life. I mean if you have to disable features to save in the battery then what’s the point ? Also if you have to add a external battery pack to your phone why not just make the phone a little thicker in the first place. I also dint like Apples push for built in batteries in their laptops. I like having an extra battery un my bag for when I need juice on the go.

  • xxJDxx

    Got my 3GS on launch and noticed right away the battery wore down slightly faster… but I aslo noticed that my old 3G battery started draining MUCH quicker when i updated to 3.0, so lets hope that 3.0 is the real culprit, not the new processor/memory changes…

    and the 3G/EDGE auto switching mentioned above would be an awesome feature….I wonder if apple has thought of this….??

  • xxJDxx

    Got my 3GS on launch and noticed right away the battery wore down slightly faster… but I aslo noticed that my old 3G battery started draining MUCH quicker when i updated to 3.0, so lets hope that 3.0 is the real culprit, not the new processor/memory changes…

    and the 3G/EDGE auto switching mentioned above would be an awesome feature….I wonder if apple has thought of this….??

  • Bought the iPhone 3GS some 10 days ago and did some tests.
    I used the percentage drop for the battery for a certain time and calculated how many hours it would take to use up 100%.

    Standby 3G (no WiFi, bluetooth, location services, push mail, etc. etc., and no calls made or received, no Internet, no everything 🙂 and I got:
    218 (97% to 86% – 24 hours) and 246 (77% to 72% – 12.3 hours) so less than the 300 hours Apple says.

    Standby Edge, the same as above
    250 (53 to 49% – 10 hours) and 325 (42 to 36% – 13 hours). Here seems to be o.k.

    Talk Edge
    7.50 hours (4 % drop – 18 min call)
    10 hours (3% drop – 18 min. call)
    Apple says 12 hours

    Talk 3G
    5.5 hours (3% – 10 min)
    4.3 hours (5% – 13 min)
    Apple says 5 hours

    Did no do any tests for surfing.

    I could take the phone back and get I new one (still within 15 days) but is it worth it ?

    The new one could be worse

  • Bought the iPhone 3GS some 10 days ago and did some tests.
    I used the percentage drop for the battery for a certain time and calculated how many hours it would take to use up 100%.

    Standby 3G (no WiFi, bluetooth, location services, push mail, etc. etc., and no calls made or received, no Internet, no everything 🙂 and I got:
    218 (97% to 86% – 24 hours) and 246 (77% to 72% – 12.3 hours) so less than the 300 hours Apple says.

    Standby Edge, the same as above
    250 (53 to 49% – 10 hours) and 325 (42 to 36% – 13 hours). Here seems to be o.k.

    Talk Edge
    7.50 hours (4 % drop – 18 min call)
    10 hours (3% drop – 18 min. call)
    Apple says 12 hours

    Talk 3G
    5.5 hours (3% – 10 min)
    4.3 hours (5% – 13 min)
    Apple says 5 hours

    Did no do any tests for surfing.

    I could take the phone back and get I new one (still within 15 days) but is it worth it ?

    The new one could be worse

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