Battery life battle royale: Nexus vs. iPad

Battery life is a truly important performance metric. Here, the Nexus tablets go head-to-head with their iPad counterparts.

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.
Expertise Graphics and display technology. Credentials
  • Once wrote 50 articles in one month.
Eric Franklin
3 min read

The Nexus 10's battery is a bit disappointing compared with what the iPad offers. Eric Franklin/CNET

With all the hoopla about the relative graphics performance of the fourth-generation iPad and the Nexus 10, it's easy to forget another important performance metric: battery life.

Battery life dictates how long you can actually use the unit before it requires a recharge, so I'd say it's pretty darn important. So important in fact that it gets its own blog post. Here I pit the last two generations of iPad, the iPad Mini, the Nexus 7, and the Nexus 10 against each other in a take-no-prisoners battery blood bath! Or acid bath I guess.

The results
The results speak for themselves, but if you need further explanation, continue reading after the chart.

iPad (4th gen)    iPad Mini    Nexus 10    Nexus 7    iPad (3rd gen)
Movie battery life (in hours)  13.1 12.1 8.4 10.1 11.4

How we tested battery life
I evaluated battery life the same way I do for all tablets: by continually running a movie file until the tablet's battery dies.

I set each tablet to Airplane Mode and adjusted their respective brightnesses to 150 candelas per square meter (cd/m2) or as close to that number as possible. The iPads were running version 6.0.1 of iOS; the Nexus 10 ran Android 4.2, while the Nexus 7 was running Android 4.1.2.

I ran the 720p iTunes iPad version of the recent "Avengers" movie on the iPad and the Google Play version of the same movie on the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7, each movie playing through the tablet's native default video players.

The final score is an average of two full runs on each tablet, with the two numbers coming within 5 percent of each other.

The iPad continues its tablet-battery-life dominance. Eric Franklin/CNET

The iPad continues its battery life dominance over all other tablets. Not the flagship iPad, but the previous-generation iPad and iPad Mini as well. At 13.1 hours, the latest and greatest iPad lasted longer than any previous tablet.

The two smaller tablets on the list make a strong showing, with the Mini posting an impressive 12.1 hours. Very few Android tablets last over 10 hours, but the Nexus 7 achieved the almost mythical feat with 10.1 hours.

The now 8-months-old-and-busted iPad (third generation) still manages to make an impressive showing with 11.4 hours of life.

Google claimed the Nexus 10 would support 9 hours of video playback on a single charge. In CNET's test it gets close, but doesn't quite hit that target, lasting a slightly disappointing 8.4 hours; however, that's only slightly lower than the 8.5 hours we saw from the Asus Transformer Infinity.

The big takeaway here is just how impressive the iPad Mini's battery is. Its screen may not be as impressive as the Nexus 7's, but the extra 2 hours of life the Mini is capable of may make all the difference, depending on your needs.

Keep checking our battery-testing results chart for updates on all tablet battery life.