When we tested laptop batteries we found that barely any of them managed to meet the claims made by the manufacturers. So when you boot up your laptop, how long is it before you have to reach for the charger?
As a regular laptop user, I usually find myself with one eye constantly monitoring the battery icon. Anything above say, 70%, and I’m relatively calm. A dip below 50%, and I start to get concerned. When we reach 30% or lower, I’m already rifling through my bag for the charger, and hoping I can find a vacant plug socket before my laptop starts a fast descent into the dreaded red zone of the battery icon.
Although my laptop came with lofty claims about its battery life, I’ve never believed it. Yes, I was promised 8 hours, but I’ve never got close to that – I can barely scrape 4 before the screen blips to black.
Laptop battery life
I’ve always been suspicious about battery life, and looking back at our laptop battery tests it seems I had good reason to be.
Our research shows that the claimed battery life on the box rarely matches what you get – in some cases, users are drastically short changed.
In fact, we found that claims that we actually accurate is something of an anomaly. Not only that, but some laptops could even last half as long as they claimed.
As an example, the Lenovo Yoga 510 is advertised with a five hour battery life. We only managed two hours, seven minutes. Similarly, the Acer E15 is listed as having six hours, but our tests found it was less than three.
With the battery life being a major deciding factor when purchasing a laptop, this seems less than ideal.
Battery life tests
So why the big differences? We spoke to the manufacturers, some of which told us that they arrive at their battery estimates via dedicated benchmarking software.
While our lab testing of a laptop battery involves us laboriously surfing the web until the battery dies, before repeating the test again. We will also play a movie on the laptop until it powers down. It might not be the most fun way to spend an afternoon, but we do think it’s more representative of how people use their laptops in the real world.
While none of this changes the fact that I have to reach for my charger much more often than I would like, it does explain it.
Claims and expectations
So, when I’m next in the market for a laptop, I’ll certainly be more cynical about the claims (and check the Which? review, of course!).
However, what would be even better is if I could actually believe the claims in the first place. If you went to buy a car on the understanding you got 40 Miles Per Gallon, but only ever got 20, you’d be pretty miffed.
So why do we accept getting short changed on battery life when it comes to laptops?