Talk time testing, for real

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How often have you not had a conversation on your mobile phone, only to discover that your battery meter has squeezed itself to a narrow line after you're done talking?

Even though your phone manufacturer claims that your phone can withstand half a day of talking, this isn't necessary true in your case. There's quite a difference between the results achieved in a lab, and how things work out in real life.

Earlier this year, we decided to see how much talking phones really can take before they throw in the twoel. For three months we've been testing every mobile phone you can buy in stores in our office. In all, we've tested 45 phones from seven different manufacturers.

Our approach has been quite straight-forward. We've put every phone on a specific spot in the office, and dialed up another phone in the area. Music was playing in each end, to make sure we had a conversation. Then we simply waited to see how long the phone could keep the call going. All in all, we've called for 298 hours.

Large differences
Not surprisingly, there were huge differences from phone to phone. The winner phone let you chat away for two-and-a-half times as long as the phone at the bottom of the chart.

The phone with the best talk time is Sony Ericsson Z530i. Our sample could keep a conversation going for an entire 8 hours. Actually, all the phones that survived for more than 7 hours were Sony Ericsson phones - Z530i, K750i and W700i.

The model that came out worst was the Siemens SL75. It dropped the call after only 3 hours of talking.


The tests have been conducted with the help of Telenor Mobil and Telebutikken

See the full result graphs >>

Sony Ericsson in the lead
Undoubtedly, the king of the hill when it comes to battery performance is Sony Ericsson. Seven of the top 10 phones in our ranking are Sony Ericsson phones.

Nokia performs quite a bit poorer. Only one of its phones toppled 6 hours of talk time, and five of the bottom 10 phones are Nokia branded. Phones from the five other manufacturers in the test are distributed quite evenly across the result table.

Anyhow, it's important to note that all the phone brands have top- and bottom-perfomers, so there's no appearent reason to judge battery performance by brand only.

Price of no importance
Our results show that there's no correlation between the price you pay for your phone and how long you can talk in it.

Nokia 6030Actually, many of the models that performed poorly are also the most expensive phones in the test. This is especially true when it comes to Nokia, which seems to accept poor battery life in its most expensive phones.

For instance, the Nokia 8800 has a list price of more than $600 and still falls short of 3,5 hours of talk time. Many of Nokia's other flagships, such as the 3250 and 6233, have just as poor battery life.

If you want good battery life, there's no reason to empty your wallet. The fifth best phone in our test, the Nokia 6030 (right), can be bought unlocked for less than $100.

Unreliable numbers
Many of our measurements deviate quite a bit from the official talk time figures. For instance, many of the phones could only deliver 60 - 70 % of the talk time promised.

There were also examples of the opposite. BenQ-Siemens S88 lasted for an entire 6 hours and 30 minutes of talkiung, while the listed talk time is only 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Nokia's director of sales in the Scandinavian market, Andreas Lundin, tells that measurement of talk time is no exact science.

- The methods used by eliminate quite a bit of uncertainty, since all the phones have been kept in the same place, with sound being transmitted at all times. Still, there will be some natural variation, since you never can be certain that the phones use the same base station. Also, in a normal conversation, there would be a silence in each end 50 percent of the time.

Still, Lundin agrees that this is the closest you can get to measuring talk time in a precise way in a natural user environment. Nokia uses a European standard for measuring talk time, that depends on much more clinical circuimstances.

Our recommendations
When you're shopping your next mobile phone, it's important to be aware of the large differences in talk time. Because of new, power-intensive phone features such as mp3-playback and camera you must charge your phone more often than before. Therefore, battery capacity is an even more important question now than it was a few years ago.

If you want a phone that both has a good battery and has done well in our regular phone reviews, we can recommend the following three models.

On the following page, you can read about the methods used in this test. Here you'll also find the full result graphs with all the 45 phones we´ve tested.

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