No matter what you’re looking for in a smartphone, one thing’s certain, you’ll want to make sure it offers decent battery life.
It’s no good having a phone with a killer display for streaming video or a top-notch camera if it turns into a paperweight after only a few hours of use. For some, long battery life is essential, whether as a means to stay connected to someone or if you’re one to venture out, away from a viable power source, for days at a time.
Bad battery life on smartphones is something we’ve all grown to tolerate. While Apple’s iPhone was once the device that always needed charging by lunchtime, it was never the only culprit – though thanks to major progress on Apple’s part, for the first time in a while we do feature one of the latest iPhones in our battery ranking now.
You can, of course, charge during the day if that doesn’t bother you or even carry around a power bank to top up your phone when away from the wall plug, but if you don’t want to keep checking that percentage icon, then here are the phones that you should look to.
Best battery phones 2021
Nokia XR20 – Longest-lasting
Pros: Resilient design | Extended warranty | Clean Android user experience | 5G
Cons: Middling performance | Only 60Hz display | No power adapter in box
Battery test score: 18:48Battery capacity: 4470mAh
Despite being pricier than the 2021 Motorola Defy, we found the Nokia XR20 to strike the right balance, in terms of what those after a rugged phone might be looking for; with battery life being a particular highlight.
It offers better raw performance compared to its most like-minded rival – the Defy – and an impressively hardy design that doesn’t look all that bad and also comes with a great extended warranty.
5G, a headphone jack and Nokia’s characteristically easy-to-use Android user experience are highlights too.
Read our full Nokia XR20 review
Motorola Defy (2021) – Rugged design
Pros: Resilient design | Affordable | Clean Android user experience
Cons: Lacklustre performance | Low resolution display | Basic cameras
Battery test score: 17:27Battery capacity: 5000mAh
Making a worthwhile rugged phone isn’t cheap and yet Motorola’s managed to make a solid offering in the revived 2021 Defy.
It struggles to keep step with like-minded rival, the Nokia XR20, in terms of performance but we can’t knock its hardy design, or its sizeable 5000mAh battery; which delivers some exceptional longevity. 20W fast charging isn’t the quickest around, but we’d rather have it than not.
While the display also misses the mark with its sub-Full HD resolution, Motorola’s clean Android experience does at least ensure it’s nice to use.
Read our full Motorola Defy review
Vivo Y20s – Most affordable
Pros: Attractive design | Simple software
Cons: Underwhelming display | Basic camera | Micro-USB | No 5G
Battery test score: 17:10Battery capacity: 5000mAh
One of the most affordable phones in Vivo’s current portfolio, the Y20s prioritises battery life by pairing a large capacity cell with a low resolution 720p display and a modest Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 SoC.
For the price, you lose out of features like 5G but the phone still offers a clean and simple user experience, and a triple rear camera setup. Fast charging snappier than 18W would have been nice, though.
Read our full Vivo Y20s review
Doogee S58 Pro – Budget friendly
Pros: Rugged design | Wireless charging
Cons: Lacklustre performance | Low resolution display | Basic cameras
Battery test score: 17:01Battery capacity: 5180mAh
A budget offering that specialises in being resilient and long-lasting. The cameras and performance aren’t great but the S58 Pro will still serve those looking for a device that can withstand an active lifestyle and long stints away from the wall plug well.
With some of the best battery longevity that we’ve tested, the S58 Pro is a great option for hikers, divers or people who work in extreme conditions. The one thing no-one can complain about is the battery, which lasts multiple days on a single charge.
Read our full Doogee S58 Pro review
Moto G9 Play – Great value
Pros: Affordable | Lightweight | Clean Android user experience
Cons: Plastic build | Lacklustre cameras | Dim display
Battery test score: 16:04Battery capacity: 5000mAh
A surprising standout in a sea of Moto G phones, the Moto G9 Power packs in a 5000mAh battery cell, which offers up enough juice for multiple days usage at a time.
If you’re not hankering after super-fast 5G mobile speeds, the Play is a great affordable option with a big screen and a huge battery.
The display needs work, as does the camera, but for the price and paired with Motorola’s slick user experience, the G9 Play isn’t a bad budget offering by any means.
Read our full Moto G9 Play review
iPhone 13 Pro Max – Best battery iPhone
Pros: Powerful cameras | Smooth 120Hz display | Fast performance
Cons: Expensive | Big and bulky
Battery test score: N/ABattery capacity: 4352mAh
The accepted wisdom is that iPhones have bad battery life, and for a while that’s been true. Luckily that changed with the iPhone 13 series, none more so than the 13 Pro Max.
This is the rare flagship phone that still offers multi-day performance, though you do pay a price for it – quite literally, as it’s an extortionately expensive phone.
You’ll have to get used to the size too, but if you don’t mind using Apple’s biggest iPhone yet then you’ll be rewarded with phenomenal cameras, top-notch performance, and an ultra-smooth display – all of which finally last for days.
Read our full Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review
Asus ROG Phone 5 – Best for gaming
Pros: Optimised gaming features | Great 144Hz AMOLED display | Top-notch performance
Cons: Unwieldy | Heat management issues
Battery test score: 15:44Battery capacity: 6000mAh
If you’re considering phones for their battery life, there’s a chance it’s because you’re looking for a great mobile gaming device.
Asus ROG Phone Series is one of the most established members in the category and the ROG Phone 5 impresses with exceptional longevity, paired with some seriously high-end internals.
So long as you’re onboard with the unwieldy size of this 6.78in gaming behemoth and its tendency to get a little toasty after extended gaming sessions, Asus’ ROG Phone can keep you entertained for hours.
Read our full Asus ROG Phone 5 review
Realme 8 Pro – Elegant design
Pros: Thin, lightweight design | Rapid charging | Solid main camera
Cons: Unreliable fingerprint sensor | Middling performance | Plastic build
Battery test score: 15:57Battery capacity: 4500mAh
A sleeper hit, in terms of battery longevity. Realme’s 8 Pro places a focus on design, opting for a slim and lightweight plastic build that manages to house a decently-sized battery and an impressively capable 108Mp main camera.
Not everyone will appreciated the ‘Dare to Leap’ slogan, strewn across the phone’s back and Realme UI is a skinned take of Android that won’t be to everyone’s tastes but this is a respectable, affordable phone that delivers great longevity.
Read our full Realme 8 Pro review
Sony Xperia 5 II – Great performance
Pros: Beautiful 120Hz display | Stellar performance | Great software
Cons: Limited OS updates | Cameras tricky to master | No wireless charging
Battery test score: 15:05Battery size: 4000mAh
Despite a relatively small battery, Sony’s Xperia 5 II impresses in terms of longevity.
Save for its successor, the Xperia 5 III (which packs more power but less longevity), this is one of the only flagships that’ll serve up a headphone jack and a notch-less display (without a hole-punch or under display camera).
General performance is also still excellent, as is the phone’s rear 12Mp camera setup, although you’ll need to learn to master Sony’s in-depth photography features to get the most out of it.
The 21:9 120Hz 6.1in OLED display is also a joy to use but something of a price/performance imbalance makes it one of the trickier entries to recommend here, despite its prowess.
Read our full Sony Xperia 5 II review
Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro – Feature-packed
Pros: Impressive specs for the price | Decent performance | Smooth 144Hz display
Cons: Large camera bump | LCD not OLED screen | Heavy
Battery test score: 14:55Battery capacity: 5000mAh
Dubbed a ‘spec beast’ in our review, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro packs in flagship-class innards against a mid-range price tag.
What’s more, it features a huge 5000mAh battery that translates to days worth of use per charge and has no right being the final punctuation in a long list of hardware highlights.
If the battery alone isn’t enough to tempt you, the 144Hz display, 108MP camera and the 5G connectivity should win you over.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro review
Battery capacity explained
Battery capacity is measured in milliamp-hours (mAh). The higher the mAh of a battery, the higher its technical capacity. But the phones with the highest mAh aren’t always the phones with the best battery life.
It can depend on how efficient the phone’s processor is in conjunction with the software, as well as how much you actually use your phone. Expensive high-end phones often are faster and have better screens, but require larger batteries to compensate or suffer from crippling shortfalls (such as with Google’s Pixel 4).
What to look out for
When choosing a phone, it’s important to consider what you’ll likely use it for primarily and the hardware that it brings to the table. If you buy a larger-screened phone with a high-resolution display and a high peak brightness, those attributes are all going to affect longevity negatively compared to a phone with the same-sized battery but a smaller or lower-res panel, for example.
Some phones – particularly in the mid-range and budget segments – may offer large batteries and great battery life but forgo or offer underwhelming fast-charging speeds, meaning recharging them at any time other than overnight may become a chore.
Decent fast charging speed wattages to look out for as of 2021 are anything over 33W, with some devices boasting 120W and beyond, at the top end of the current range.
What do the results show?
For consistency’s sake, we’re only including phones which have been tested using our most current benchmarking process, which relies of PC Mark’s Work 3.0 battery test to generate a score. The only exception is iPhones, which don’t support this app, so we do our best to factor those into the ranking based on real-world testing and experience.
It’s worth noting that these tests spit out a figure in minutes and seconds, but this is not an indication of how long a phone will actually last.
In all tests, the screen brightness is set to the same level to ensure a fair test (200cd/m2). The phone discharges its battery and the screen is set not to dim or turn off.
For example, if a phone lasts 12:15 in a test, it lasted 12 hours and 15 minutes with the screen on and the test processes running. These figures may vary from a device’s own report of screen-on time, as usage and power management setups have an additional effect on real-world situations.
The star scores here are the scores we gave the phones overall in their original reviews, not star rating scores for battery life specifically.
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