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Best phone battery life 2021: The longest-lasting smartphones ranked

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We put every smartphone to the test to find out which has the longest-lasting and best phone battery life in 2021

Deciding on which smartphone to buy is no easy task. We all need a phone with top-notch performance and a capable camera for our Instagram snaps, but a smartphone’s battery life is an increasingly important factor. No matter how excellent your brand-new phone is, it’s not much use to anyone if you’re always having to charge it.

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When making your decision, it's best to look at battery size (measured in mAh) to give you an indication of how long-lasting the phone should be. But other factors such as display size and resolution and power efficiency still play a massive part, too. But there's no need to simply guess – we’ve got you covered when it comes to the phones with the best battery life.

Every single phone that passes through our doors is faced with our in-house battery-life test. As such, we know exactly which phones you need to consider if battery life is at the top of your agenda. Below, we've ranked the top 20 best phone battery lives of 2021, including those pricey flagships and forgotten-about budget alternatives.

Best phone battery life 2021: How we test

To find out how well your phone performs against its rivals, we've combined all the battery scores from the countless smartphone tests we conduct every year into one easy-to-use graph, so you can see which phones are the best battery performers.

To measure a smartphone's battery life, we run a continuous video-playback test. The video file includes a handful of scenes from Spider-Man 2, encoded to H.264 and looped to a 20-hour length. We use the VLC video player app on either Google Play or the Apple App Store to play the file and record the length of time played on reboot. We also set the phone to aeroplane mode, turn off any automatic brightness and sleep settings, and set the screen brightness to a standardised 170cd/m2.

Aeroplane mode switches off all of the phone’s wireless features – naturally, extending battery life – which means that our tests are repeatable and consistent. The big problem with wireless is that signal strength can come and go, which forces the phone to adjust the amount of power that it uses constantly, causing variable results.

Best phone battery life 2021: Results

As you can see from the graph below, smartphone battery life, despite stagnating a little in recent years, has rapidly improved. All 20 phones in our hierarchy reached over 22 hours in our battery benchmark before needing to recharge, and a significant chunk of the most recent headsets (which make up a lot of the list) seriously outdo their predecessors as well.

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That includes the Samsung Galaxy M31, which pushed the previous winner, the Lenovo P2, from the top of the podium. Lasting over 30 hours in our battery test, the Galaxy M31 beat the Lenovo P2 by more than 90 minutes under the same conditions, making it the first phone we can recommend with a proper two-day battery life, and then some. 

This is the new benchmark for all upcoming smartphones to aspire to. In second place, we have the Sony Xperia 10 III, which smashed past its predecessor's stamina, coming in at just under 29 hours. The Moto G9 Power is next on the list, which has a massive 6,000mAh battery and achieved a score of 28hrs 50mins.

Samsung is dominating the top 20 list with six handsets, with Motorola sitting just behind at five placements. Both Google and OnePlus are the second most prevalent, with a joint three handsets a piece. As you might have spotted, Apple has finally made the list, with the iPhone 13 Pro Max smashing previous iPhone stamina by well over three and a half hours.

5G phones outnumber the amount of 4G handsets, too. With a total of 13 5G-capable smartphones making the cut, this list includes the aforementioned Xperia 10 III and Galaxy S21, as well as the OnePlus 8T, OnePlus Nord CE, Asus ROG Phone 5 and Google Pixel 4a 5G

This list does come with a caveat, however, as you can't expect similar levels of stamina as soon as you switch on data connections – 5G is quite a power hog according to our real-world testing.


Best phone battery life 2021: iPhone results

As I mentioned earlier, only one iPhone manages to make an appearance in our overall battery life chart, so I've decided to make a separate section for fans of Apple who might be curious to find out which iPhone reaches the top of the iOS podium. 

Historically speaking, few iPhones have managed to compete with the likes of Android, but things have dramatically improved since the launch of the iPhone 11. As the below chart proves, three of this year's Apple smartphones squeezed out enough juice to last over 20 hours, with only the dinky iPhone 13 mini (and its small 2,438mAh battery) failing to make the cut. Both the iPhone 13 Pro and regular iPhone 13 narrowly miss out on appearing on our top 20 list above. 

I've ordered this graph in a slightly different way, instead listing them in release order. As you can see, despite a few stumbles along the way, iPhone battery life is generally improving (aside from the mini versions). Note: we began our standardised battery testing in 2013, so there isn't any data before the iPhone 5C, and neither is there any data for the iPhone 7 Plus, because our battery test failed to run.

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