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CNET tests alkaline battery performance

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Eric Franklin Former Editorial Director
Eric Franklin led the CNET Tech team as Editorial Director. A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, chauffeuring his kids around town, or absorbing every motivational book he can get his hands on.
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Eric Franklin
2 min read

Three brave batteries answered the call! Eric Franklin/CNET

Even in the days of nickel cadmium and lithium ion batteries being used in most laptops, phones, and MP3 players, some of us still need traditional alkaline batteries.

Recently, I was forced by my superiors as if my life depended upon my cooperation I was politely asked if I could conduct some battery performance tests on a few regular, everyday, over-the-counter batteries. I, of course, responded: "Yes! Especially since you asked so nicely, I'd be happy to do it!"

I chose what I thought were two of the most popular batteries on the market, and one not so popular battery. The goal being to determine which battery would last longer under controlled conditions.

We looked at the following batteries: Energizer, Duracell Ultra Advanced, and Fuji Enviro Max. All batteries were of the AA variety with a 1.5-volt charge.

We used three identical Mini Maglite flashlights that require two AA batteries each.

We set up a Webcam, placed the flashlights in front of the lens, and started recording. When we returned a few hours later, all three flashlights were off and didn't turn on when we attempted to do so.

We then skipped through the recorded video file to determine exactly when each flashlight died. Using the video duration counter, we determined the following results:

Brand Battery life
Energizer 5 hours and 35 minutes
Duracell Ultra Advanced 5 hours and 8 minutes
Fuji Enviro Max 4hours and 28 minutes

I was not surprised that the purported "Eco-friendly" Fuji Enviro Max came in last place, but I was taken aback that a normal Energizer battery beat something called the Duracell Ultra Advanced.

Note that all batteries were brand-new and only used for the first time with each test run. Also, our goal was to determine which battery lasted longest. Sometimes, even after a device dies, batteries will still have a charge and knocking the device around or taking the battery out and putting it back in will give you more juice. We didn't do that here. The test was one run, repeating the test twice (three times total). The number you see above is an average of the three tests for each brand of battery.

Let us know in the comment section if you think we've missed something, or if you would like to request a different battery to test.