7 Worst Battery Life-Guzzling Gadgets

There is a disturbing trend in the gadget world, and it’s that laptop, tablet and phone makers aren’t taking battery life seriously enough. Yes, having touch on a Windows 8 notebook is great, but not if the computer lasts an hour and a half less than one without that capability. And what good is a smartphone with an HD display and superfast processor if you have to plug it in around lunchtime? We run our homemade battery test, which involves continuous Web surfing at 40 percent brightness, on every device we review. And if the endurance isn’t good enough, regardless of the gadget’s other features, we simply won’t recommend it.

Here are seven of my worst battery life offenders and how much you’ll pay per hour of juice versus more efficient competitors.

Editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP’s online and print editorial content and has been covering mobile and wireless technology for over a decade. Each week Mark’s SpoonFed column provides his insights and analysis of the biggest mobile trends and news. You can also follow him on Twitter and .

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Francis Says:


    Thanks for testing out those batteries. I wanted to buy a Google Nexus but the battery only lasts for 4 hours. What’s the use of those advanced features if you can only enjoy it for 4 hours.

  2. Thomas Says:

    Clever article in a checklist-driven world.

    In a similar spirit, one could also come up with a list about “least important checklist items” or “most misleading bundle offers”. In the mid-2000s everybody whined about manufacturers dropping IR from phones, though it happened because it was slow. Now, if there is no NFC, it is not even a real smartphone, but you cannot in fact use NFC. Add to that that you have to approach something at least 20 cm with your _mobile_ device to make NFC function. Or you have the ads that claim how many peripheries you can add (for extra cash, of course) to make the product function (better), whereas the real question should be what is the product’s core functionality or what you get out-of-the-box.

  3. GameNTrade Says:

    This is interesting they really should come up with a battery that not only lasts but will not slowly dwindle out after a month or so. It would be nice if it held the charge.

  4. Thethad Says:

    Here’s the thing when you’re considering the battery lives: are you going to be web surfing for 4 hours straight? If you travel a lot and over long distances, maybe. In my case, I’m not…but here’s what I’ll tell you from a regular day’s work (I’m using a Google Nexus 4). I work in a science lab and just finished a 3 hour task while running Songza at a reasonable volume. My phone has been unplugged since 8 or so. 70% battery life remaining. If you’re a heavy user where your screen is on most of the time, sure – maybe the 4 and a half hours are not enough for you. I however, don’t have the time to stare at my phone screen for a 6th of my day. Also, the price/hour of battery life seems a bit of a strange consideration. Sure, I get it. But I’m not only buying a battery. I’m getting a gadget with the form factor I want, the UI I want and the cheap phone plan I want.

  5. Thethad Says:

    I suppose I should add that it’s about 5 o clock right now while I’m finishing up this comment.

  6. Adrian Says:

    Why not compare Apples to Apples(no pun) for the Surface Pro . I would love to see the MacBook Air’s score because on Apple’s own site it says up to 5 hours battery time. Comparing a x86 machine to a ARM machine is just silly

  7. Pedro Says:

    I agree with Adrian. You can’t compare a Toyota Prius gas mileage with a Dodge Ram hemi. Two different products. Apple iPad, as great as it is, cannot run NHL2k13 from EA or many other programs. Sure both vehicles can get you fr point a to b with the Prius running better has mileage but that’s all it can do. If you want to do more you can’t. Same with the iPad. It’s great for angry birds or a gameloft nova game which is still impressive, it can’t run the amazing games an intel i5 can.

    I have a Microsoft Surface RT and I love it. For me, it’s better than the iPad as I can do everything an iPad does but also do most of what my pc does. I didn’t get the pro because I have a pc already. I wanted a middle ground between iPad qualities with PC functionality and the surface rt worked for me.

  8. Jeremie Says:

    I have a Nexus 4 and it lasts pretty much exactly like the iPhone 5 I tested before: around a day and a half.
    I’m not sure in which conditions you did your test, maybe you had a faulty device or something.

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