Phones with the best battery life in 2021 to make each charge last

·13-min read
 (Google)
(Google)

It’s one thing having the most technologically advanced phone on the market, with an outstanding, HD screen and a camera that could rival your DSLR. But it’s quite another discovering your smartphone never holds enough battery to make it through the day. Finding a phone that combines excellent battery life with all the tech specs you need for a day of browsing, gaming, photography or calling is a uniquely 21st century challenge.

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to smartphones is that a larger battery, measured in mAh or milliampere-hour, guarantees longer between charges. Yes, battery size does make a difference, but it’s the internal hardware a phone supports that has a greater impact on power consumption. Faster processors eat up battery, so it’s rare that more expensive, high-spec phones have the same amount of juice as their cheaper rivals.

The size and quality of a phone’s screen also has an impact. Higher-resolution screens support more pixels, which require more processing power, while higher refresh rates – something that affects how fluid the display is when gaming or scrolling – can drain battery quickly, too.

It’s also worth noting that 5G has a tendency to require more power and, consequently, more frequent charging. However, if you’re sticking to 4G for the foreseeable, you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference with 5G-ready models.

Ultimately, the more frills a handset, the quicker the battery is likely to drain. Finding the best phone for battery life is a balancing act between a phone that provides you with enough of the key features you want – whether that’s 4K video recording or high-definition display – against a battery that should at least last you the day. Here are our ten top picks.

Xiaomi POCO X3 Pro

  • Battery size: 5160mAh

  • Display size and resolution: 6.7in 2400x1080 resolution LCD display

  • Refresh rate: 120Hz

 (POCO)
(POCO)

Offering exceptional performance on a budget, the Xiaomi POCO X3 Pro is our best phone for battery life. Ideal for gamers seeking long-lasting battery without losing out on a high-resolution display or quality camera, it’s an affordable choice that doesn’t scrimp where it matters.

One of these areas is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 chipset, which is also very snappy – unsurprising so given it was used in some of last year’s flagship phones. The 48MP main camera also doesn’t disappoint; it was among the best of those we tested, with the 8MP wide-angle, 2MP macro and 20MP front camera as welcome additions.

We were also impressed by its 2400x1080 resolution display, which is bright and sharp and perfect for gaming or watching videos. It also has 33W fast charging that delivers a 50 per cent charge within 30 mins. Its dynamic refresh rate is also an impressive feature: speeding up or slowing down depending on what you’re doing, it helps preserve battery life, meaning this phone can last two whole days with medium use.

The main compromise you make with this handset is that the 5160mAh does result in a phone that is neither light nor streamlined: at 215g and with a 6.7-inch screen, it’s bulky and barely pocket-sized. But these are small complaints. When it comes to the crunch, it’s a good all-rounder that pulls together excellent battery life and a high-definition display into a handset that is extremely affordable.

£199 | Amazon

Google Pixel 5 5G

  • Battery size: 4080mAh

  • Display size and resolution: 6in 2340x1080 resolution OLED display

  • Refresh rate: 90Hz

 (Google)
(Google)

For camera quality that punches well above its price point and that’s matched with excellent battery life, you’ll want the Google Pixel 5 on your radar.

Very small in size at only 70x8x145mm, the Google Pixel 5 has strong appeal for those seeking a smartphone that can be operated with one hand and fits easily into your pocket. Despite its diminutive stature, it doesn’t feel like it’s lacking anything with its six-inch screen that is sharp - aided by the 90Hz refresh rate (which you’ll want to swap to 60Hz for the best battery performance).

The Pixel 5 demonstrates Google has an eye on battery life: the extreme battery saver mode enhances battery life significantly. You can get an extra day out of use when using this setting, which switches off unessential apps to stop them running in the background.

For a midrange phone, the camera quality is also outstanding. On the surface, it’s a fuss-free point and shoot camera with a mediocre 12MP Sony IMX363 sensor front camera, 16MP ultra-wide lens camera and 8MP front camera. In practice, Google’s industry-leading software produces images that are crisp, nuanced and natural and able to compete with the likes of the Sony Xperia 5iii.

Battery life is also impressive (and far superior to its predecessor, the Pixel 4), while the Pixel 5 is 5G ready and supports Qi wireless charging (although the charger itself is sold separately).

£599 | Google

Moto G9 Power

  • Battery size: 6000mAh

  • Display size and resolution: 6.8in 1640x720 IPS screen

  • Refresh rate: 60Hz

 (Moto)
(Moto)

With the biggest battery of any Motorola phone to date, it’s no wonder this came out close to the top of the pack. Weighing in at 221g, it’s certainly not a lightweight phone, but it’s for a good reason: the enormous 6,000mAh battery will manage up to sixty hours on a single charge.

If you’re in to your photography, or a diehard gamer, you may want to look elsewhere. The reason for this is twofold: image quality through the three-camera array is decent, but video footage is not, and the 720-pixel screen is low resolution when compared with other smartphones at similar price points. Saying that, display quality wasn’t hugely noticeable in testing, so for casual use and where battery life trumps other concerns, this is an extremely long-lasting and reliable phone that won’t hurt your wallet.

£179.99 | Amazon

Moto G50

  • Battery size: 5000mAh

  • Display size and resolution: 6.5in, 1,600x720 resolution ISP display

  • Refresh rate: 90Hz

 (moto g50)
(moto g50)

Combining outstanding battery life with highly competitive pricing, the Moto G50 is an affordable phone that’ll keep you connected for days.

The 720-pixel display isn’t the sharpest, but if browsing, messaging or calling is your main priority, you likely won’t notice. The real benefits of this handset lie in the fact that the huge 5,000mAh battery can last for a number of days on the trot, with one of the best battery lives of all the phones we tested.

The 3.5mm headphone jack is a great consumer-friendly addition – which isn’t so common these days and can be a pain if you’re not keen on Bluetooth devices – while the triple-camera array (48MP main, 5MP macro and 2MP depth sensor) doesn’t offer any particularly show-stopping images, but is good enough as an easy point and shoot camera.

What this phone does offer is a reliable set up with a price that’s difficult to argue with.

£174.99 | Argos

Sony Xperia 5iii

  • Battery size: 4500mAH

  • Display size and resolution: 6.1in, 1080x2520 resolution OLED display

  • Refresh rate: 120Hz

 (Sony Xperia 5m3)
(Sony Xperia 5m3)

Proving that Sony really do know how to make the most elegant and easy-to-use phones, the Xperia 5iii combines a slick exterior with fantastic battery life. In testing, we found it lasts well over a day for intense use – and considerably more for lighter browsing – all while not sacrificing the more exciting features that you’d expect from a handset at this price.

One of these features is the triple lens camera array that includes pro settings, thus allowing you to tweak shooting modes, aperture, light balance and more to your heart’s content. Couple this with the handy two-stage shutter button, and photographers will find themselves reaching for this device rather than their DSLR, particularly as the resulting images natural and realistic in tone, without the saturation you find in rival Samsung camera phones.

The battery life, which was impressive in our testing, also means you won’t find yourself running out of juice after a busy photography session, despite fast processing speeds thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip.

Front-facing stereo speakers make sound crystal clear and this device perfect for gaming and video watching, while IP65/68 water and dust protection, plus Gorilla Glass 6 ensure this phone is sturdy and built to last. For the latest technology without compromising on battery life, the Sony Xperia 5 iii is the perfect choice.

£899 | Sony *Available later this month

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

  • Battery size: 4000mAH

  • Display size and resolution: 6.2in 2400x1080 resolution AMOLED display

  • Refresh rate: 120Hz

 (Samsung)
(Samsung)

For solid battery life alongside top-of-the-range camera quality and powerful processing speeds, you can’t go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S21.

Its Snapdragon 730G chipset (a step up from those found in previous M models) guarantees high-quality performance and is aided by the AMOLED display, offering sharp and clear resolution and punchy brightness levels.

Samsung have thought ahead when it comes to this handset’s potentially battery-draining 120Hz refresh rate. An intelligent system means refresh rates peak only when needed: expect 120Hz refresh when you’re gaming, but far lower speeds when you’re using more static displays such as an e-reader.

Four cameras - including a 64MP main, 12MP wide-angle and 12MP at the back and a 10MP selfie camera at the front - match with a full manual mode and the ability to shoot in RAW, as well as at 8K, for detail-led, cinema quality video recording.

Killer specs, a crisp display screen and a surprisingly lengthy battery life make this a top choice for those seeking the whole package, particularly as the Samsung Galaxy S21 is 5G compatible, meaning you won’t need to upgrade when you switch.

£819 | Amazon

Moto G30

  • Battery size: 5000mAh

  • Display size and resolution: 6.2in 1600x720 resolution IPS display

  • Refresh rate: 90Hz

 (moto g30)
(moto g30)

Proving that Motorola have invested heavily in attracting consumers driven by budget-friendly prices and ample battery life, the Moto G30 packs snappy performance and average camera quality into a large 6.5-inch display that feels more streamlined and stylish than others from this brand.

Like all of the Motorolas we tested, the camera quality is decent, if nothing particularly arresting, with this device packing a 64MP main camera, 8MP ultra-wide lens and two 2MP cameras, plus a 13MP selfie camera. While the display is large, the pixel density and resolution are low; but it’s something you’re unlikely to notice if you’re using it for browsing, messaging or other similar activities.

One of the real bonuses of this phone is its huge 5000mAh battery that last an impressive couple of days on moderate to light usage. This is supported by extremely fast charging; we managed 32 per cent charge in just 30 minutes. Match this with its IP52 dust and water repellent rating and it’s a solid, no-frills phone at a competitive price – and easily one of the best budget phones for battery life on the market.

£159 | Argos

Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G

  • Battery size: 4250mAh

  • Display size and resolution: 6.55in 2400x1080 AMOLED display

  • Refresh rate: 90Hz

 (Mi 11)
(Mi 11)

Taking a leaf out of Xperia’s design book, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite is much thinner (just 6.81mm) and lighter (just 159g) than practically any other handset – a feat achieved without losing out on display size, which sits at a comfortable 6.55 inches.

Xiaomi proves that high-end specs don’t have to come at high-end prices. This is particularly the case with its display: the AMOLED screen provides excellent contrast and brightness in a variety of conditions and can be adapted using a wealth of settings, which help protect battery life and can be moulded to your personal preferences. Ultra-battery saver mode also extends time between charge.

The 64MP main camera is a little oversaturated in low-light conditions, but the addition of the 8MP ultra-wide and 5MP telephoto give you plenty of choice in your shooting, plus a solid 20MP front camera for selfies. Recording at 4K, the camera is great for videos, while games or leisurely scrolling are enhanced by the 90Hz refresh rate.

With Gorilla Glass 6 front and back, you can expect this phone to remain in one piece if you accidentally drop it, although the metallic back of the truffle black model that we tested was a bit of a fingerprint magnet – admittedly not a huge issue if you’re protecting it with a case.

It also supports fast charging, with a 33W fast charger in the box that hits 57 per cent charge in a matter of only 30 minutes. 5G-ready, it’s the perfect affordable next-generation phone that looks good and performs great.

£329 | Very

One Plus Nord CE 5G

  • Battery size: 4500mAh

  • Display size and resolution: 6.43in 2400x1080 AMOLED Display

  • Refresh rate: 90Hz

 (OnePlus)
(OnePlus)

Offering a stripped-down version of the original One Plus Nord, the One Plus Nord CE 5G promises the high levels of performance you’ve come to expect from Chinese brand One Plus, but at a more economical price.

Weighing only 170g and measuring at just 7.9mm wide, the One Plus Nord CE 5G is a lightweight phone that doesn’t feel small: a 6.43-inch display is more than enough for most users, with the 90Hz refresh rate making the display smooth and snag-free. The HDR10+ video technology makes videos seems more dynamic and with added depth for punchier video streaming, but the three-lens array camera system (64MP main, 8MP ultrawide and 2MP mono lens) is less impressive, shooting solid, if not noteworthy images.

Fast charging comes thanks to its dual cell battery and warp charging cable that takes the device from 0 to fully charged in just over an hour. Combine this with an efficient chipset that keeps this phone going for over a day with medium usage, and you’ve got a smartphone offering the classic OnePlus experience without the associated price tag.

£299 | John Lewis

Sony Xperia 10iii

  • Battery size: 4500mAh

  • Display size and resolution: 6in OLED display

  • Refresh rate: 60Hz

 (Sony Xperia)
(Sony Xperia)

Lasting up to two days, even with moderate usage, the Sony Xperia 10iii is a slick but still functional smartphone that chooses endurance over the high-end specs and processing power of the other phones in the Xperia range.

When it came to day-to-day practical use, we loved the multi window switch tool, which is a godsend for those wanting to flick between browser windows or other screens. Like all of the Xperia range, it’s also water resistant and reinforced with Gorilla Glass 6, making it an extremely robust model.

For all its positive points, when faced with a choice between the superior specifications of the One Plus Nord CE 5G and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite, the Sony Xperia 10iii is certainly on the expensive side, but great if you want something sleek, simple and reliable, particularly as photos were consistently better than most of the other smartphones we tested.

That said, if you’ve got the cash to splash and want outstanding photography, splurge on the Sony Xperia 5iii instead.

£399 | Argos

Verdict

For affordability, with good gaming performance, decent camera software and a battery that’ll last multiple days, the Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro takes the best battery life crown. For higher specs, including outstanding photo processing, 4K video recording and a sharp, slick display, the Google Pixel 5 5G is our top pick.

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