How is the battery life on Apple’s iPhone 12? The introduction of 5G brings big speed improvements, but it does come at a cost…

Beyond all the shiny new specs and hardware updates, battery life is one of the most important things a new phone – like the iPhone 12 – needs to get right.

And the bad news here is that Apple’s new iPhone 12 does not make a good impression with respect to battery life: thanks to the inclusion of 5G, Apple’s iPhone 12 has a worse battery life than the outgoing iPhone 11.

iphone 12 battery life testPin


And not just by a bit, either – Apple’s iPhone 11 has a vastly superior battery life (by almost four hours). Why does Apple’s iPhone 12 battery life suck? The iPhone 12 runs a smaller battery than the iPhone 11 (3110 mAh vs 2815 mAh) and the iPhone 12 has 5G.

Switch off 5G and the iPhone 12 will do a far more respectable job: around 10 hours before a top-up is required. This is still over an hour less than the iPhone 11, but it’s an improvement nonetheless.

Here’s how long iPhone batteries can typically last.

Why 5G is Bad For Battery Life

Right now, 5G comes with A LOT of costs. 5G phones are more expensive than LTE phones. 5G phones run hotter than 4G phones. And, lastly, but most importantly, 5G phones have worse battery life than 4G phones.

Why does 5G negatively affect battery life? It’s partly down to the fact that 5G is a new technology, so the modems used to run it aren’t quite as efficient as they need to be. And this means, with constant switching between 4G and 5G, power isn’t managed appropriately and this negatively affects your phone’s battery life.

This was the #1 reason why Apple didn’t launch 5G on the iPhone 11. That and the fact that 5G was too thin on the ground in 2019. Either way, it appears that Apple, despite its insistence that its new iPhone 12 can smartly manage 5G requests, appears to have the same issues as 2019’s first-gen 5G Android phones.

Battery drain.

Why Apple decided to run a smaller battery in the iPhone 12 is beyond me. Surely, while testing the phone, it would have known what 5G did to battery performance?

I get that the A14 CPU is more power-efficient than the A13. But the inclusion of 5G, according to tests, makes this efficiency improvement moot. With 5G on, you’ll get worse battery performance – by a considerable margin – than the iPhone 11 running on 4G networks.

Add in things like gaming and watching movies and TV shows via services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and the iPhone 12 (and iPhone 12 Pro) will not be able to hold a candle to phones like the iPhone 11, Pixel 5, and Samsung Galaxy Note 20.

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iPhone 12 Battery Sizes: The iPhone 12 & iPhone 12 Pro

  • iPhone 12 – 2815 mAh
  • iPhone 12 Pro – 2815 mAh

If you want to instantly improve your iPhone 12’s battery life, turn off 5G: Settings app then go to Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Voice & Data and tap LTE.

We have a detailed guide on how to turn off 5G on the iPhone 12 here if you need more help.

Your mobile data will be slower on 4G, but it will ensure that your iPhone 12 battery lasts longer. And right now, 5G isn’t even available everywhere, so it’s not like you’re missing out on much.

If you live in a city, you’ll be able to get 5G pretty much everywhere. Farther out in the sticks and suburbs, 4G is still king – and will likely remain so for the remainder of 2020 and a good slice of 2021.

Or, you could just save yourself some money and get an iPhone 11 instead and wait until the release of the iPhone 13, when Apple has figured out how to do 5G without maiming your phone’s battery life.

That’s probably what I’d do. But then again, I don’t tend to use Android phones. Right now, I’m all about the Pixel 5 – it does 5G and its battery life is great. And it is A LOT cheaper than Apple’s iPhone 12.