Don't expect your Galaxy S8 to have the same battery life

Samsung's new phone might drain a teensy bit quicker...but last longer, too.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read
Josh Miller/CNET

A gorgeous curved display. A new smart assistant. Facial recognition. What do those things do to the just-announced Samsung Galaxy S8's battery life?

On stage, in front of the world, Samsung didn't say.

But based on the company's official spec sheets -- where companies typically trot out their most optimistic numbers -- it seems likely that battery life won't quite stay the same.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. Galaxy S7: Quoted battery life

Galaxy S8Galaxy S7Galaxy S8 PlusGalaxy S7 Edge
Screen size 5.8-inch5.1-inch6.2-inch5.5-inch
Battery Capacity 3,000mAh3,000mAh3,500mAh3,600mAh
Internet use (Wi-Fi) 14 hours14 hours15 hours15 hours
Internet use (3G) 11 hours11 hours13 hours13 hours
Internet use (4G) 12 hours13 hours15 hours15 hours
Video playback 16 hours16 hours18 hours19 hours
Talk time 20 hours28 hours24 hours36 hours
Music playback (AOD on) 44 hoursN/A50 hoursN/A
Music playback (AOD off) 67 hoursN/A78 hoursN/A
Music playback (unspecified) N/A55 hoursN/A66 hours

The differences aren't huge: an hour of 4G internet here, an hour of video there. Many numbers stay the same. You'll want to note that the talk time numbers are comparing CDMA talk time for the S7 and S7 Edge, with "global" numbers (we don't know what that means) for the S8 and S8 Plus. And as you can see, Samsung didn't give us an apples-to-apples comparison for music playback. We'll need to do our own testing to be sure.

But taken as a whole, Samsung's numbers suggest battery life might not be totally on par with last year's phones.

Enlarge Image

The Galaxy S8 and S8 have taller, larger screens than their predecesors.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

On paper, the Galaxy S8 has the same battery capacity as the Galaxy S7, and the larger Galaxy S8 Plus only has a slightly smaller battery than the Galaxy S7 Edge -- but the new phones have much larger screens, which can increase drain.

However, both phones also have a more efficient 10nm processor: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, or -- depending on your country and carrier -- a new Samsung Exynos. Qualcomm claims its chip will use up to 25 percent less power than last gen, which may offset the battery life impact of Samsung's screens.

There could be a huge silver lining even if battery life dips: Samsung claims the Galaxy S8's battery won't wear out as quickly as the Galaxy S7. After two years of use, Samsung R&D boss Oh Boo-keun told us the Galaxy S8 should still hold 95 percent of its charge.

It sure sounds like Samsung might fix the biggest reason I decided to ditch the brand: when my personal Galaxy S7's battery life dropped like a stone after the first year. Personally, I'd rather have 12 hours of web browsing today and 11 hours tomorrow, instead of 13 and 10.

Lynn La contributed to this story.