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iPhone 12 teardown confirms bad news for the battery

iPhone 12
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We’re a day away from the Oct. 23 release of the iPhone 12, though reviews and test results for Apple’s new phone are already appearing on the internet. And while the iPhone 12 is getting favorable notes, there’s one area that’s come in for criticism — including from Tom’s Guide. The iPhone 12’s battery life doesn’t quite measure up.

Our iPhone 12 battery test results points the finger at 5G, which sucks up a lot of power. But there could be another issue, too, as spotted in a recent teardown video of the iPhone 12.

That video, posted by Hic Tech shows off all the iPhone 12 internal parts for everyone to see before they can even pick up a new phone. While the entirety of the teardown is certainly informative enough, what's really intriguing is the smaller battery in the unit - smaller even than what was in the iPhone 11.

The battery isn't significantly smaller, but there's a noticeable enough difference. Past teardowns have suggested that the iPhone 11 has a 3,110 mAh battery. Apple doesn’t officially announce battery sizes, but rumors have suggested the iPhone 12 has a 2,815 mAh or 2,775 mAh power pack. Either size would be a drop-off from what kept the iPhone 11 powered up.

It’s to be expected that the iPhone 12's internals have been downsized. It's a smaller unit, overall. The new phone stands at 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches, compared to 5.9 x 3 x 0.33 inches for the iPhone 11. In that teardown video, you can see how a lot of the internal parts have been downsized, allowing for the more slender profile.

Battery life looks like it’s one of the casualties, though. We test phone batteries by having the device surf the web over cellular connectivity with the screen set at 150 nits of brightness until the phone runs out of power. There are other ways to measure battery life, but this gives us a way to compare the longevity of different phones.

The iPhone 12’s time on the test is below average for smartphones at 8 hours and 25 minutes. Partly, that’s due to 5G, because when we switched off the ability to connect to a 5G network, the iPhone 12’s time on that test improved to 10 hours and 23 minutes.

Still, 5G only explains so much. The iPhone 11, with its larger battery and no 5G connection to contend with, held out for 11 minutes and 16 seconds, which remains one of the best phone battery life results we’ve seen.

That kind of intel is what makes the iPhone 12 teardown such an intriguing prospect. If the lesser battery life isn’t something that bothers you, you may find that the iPhone 12 suits your needs rather nicely.

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.