iPad 2 battery test exhausts us both

The iPad 2 promises epic battery life in a wafer-thin case. But is it possible it can live up to its 10-hour claims? We stayed up all night to find out.

Flora Graham
2 min read

One of the unsung strengths of the iPad 2, compared to its competitors, is its epic battery life. Apple promises the new version of its tablet will have the same battery abilities as its predecessor, and be able to put out up to 10 hours of surfing the Web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music.

We can vouch for the fact that the tablet can go days without charging, under normal use. That's even more impressive when you consider it's thinner than the thinnest smart phone you can buy, the iPhone 4.

But what about under a severe stress test? We took a brand-new iPad 2 and put it to the task of playing a video non-stop at full brightness, with the sound cranked up to maximum over a pair of headphones. The tablet was connected to Wi-Fi, but not 3G.

We used the handy, free CWG Video Loop Presenter app to ensure that our video played without a break for the entire time, except for a few seconds when notifications popped up to tell us that 10 per cent and 5 per cent battery remained. We had no other apps or email accounts running. 

As you can see from the photo above, the iPad 2 was kept in a carefully sealed desktop location, stealthily guarded by a bobble-head Mountie named Pete. We used a video that we shot ourselves, on the iPad 2's 720p rear camera.

It was a real challenge just to test such a long-lived device. For example, to supervise the testing, we used a webcam to record almost 5GB of video to ensure we caught the very moment of failure.

The results are in: our new 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 was able to stream video, with all the dials set to 11, for a grand total of 7 hours and 41 minutes

That may sound like it's well short of the 10-hour mark promised by Apple. But the company does say "up to" 10 hours, and few people watch films with battery-sucking brightness and volume at maximum.

On the other hand, 3G connectivity, or apps polling for updates in the background, could reduce the battery life even further. On balance, we're calling it a fair claim.