iPhone 12 Expected to Have Longer Battery Life Except on iPhone 12 mini [Updated]

As the announcement of the iPhone 12 lineup nears and leaks consolidate a more final picture of the devices, it seems that battery life may improve across most models in spite of reduced capacities.


Smaller Batteries?

International certifications spotted in July seemed to reveal the battery capacities of each of the four ‌iPhone 12‌ models.

  • 5.4-inch ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ mini (model A2471) – 2,227mAh
  • 6.1-inch ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ (model A2431) – 2,775mAh
  • 6.1-inch ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ Pro (model A2431) – 2,775mAh
  • 6.7-inch ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ Pro Max (model A2466) – 3,687mAh

These battery capacities are notably smaller than the iPhone 11 models they are replacing. Apple improved the capacity of its batteries in the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max last year, which have heavier and thicker batteries than those used in the previous XS and XS Max models from 2018. The ‌‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌‌ had the largest battery life of any iPhone ever, lasting up to five hours longer than the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max per charge. This year seems to reverse that trend.

The ‌‌iPhone 11‌ Pro‌ has a 3,046 mAh battery, up from the 2,658 mAh battery in the ‌iPhone XS‌, but the iPhone 12 Pro moves down to 2,775mAh. The ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ has a 3,969 mAh battery, up from the 3,174 mAh battery in the ‌‌iPhone XS‌‌ Max, but down to 3,687mAh on the ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ Max.

According to these filings, the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini will have a battery capacity 883mAh smaller than the ‌iPhone 11‌, and the ‌iPhone 12‌ will have a capacity 335mAh smaller than the ‌iPhone 11‌. Even the ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ suffers from a battery capacity 271mAh smaller than the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro, and the ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ Max has a capacity 282mAh smaller than the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌. Other rumors have suggested that the ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ may have a larger capacity of 2,815mAh, but this is still less than the 3,046 of the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro. Overall, it appears that all ‌iPhone 12‌ models will likely be subject to a battery capacity smaller than their predecessors.

The capacities are smaller than expected given that Apple suppliers were reportedly developing a 50 percent smaller and thinner battery protection module for the ‌iPhone‌.

The ‌iPhone 12‌ lineup is expected to come with 5G connectivity, which is a particularly power-hungry feature, in addition to up to 6GB of RAM, and a LiDAR scanner on the Pro models. The impact of these new features on battery life in practice is not yet known.

But Longer Battery Life

However, recent rumors have indicated that most ‌iPhone 12‌ models will benefit from improved battery life despite smaller battery capacities across the board. Max Weinbach has claimed that the ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ Pro and ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ Max will have battery life improvement of about one hour over the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro and ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌.

This presumably has been facilitated by the improved power efficiency of the A14 Bionic chip, which likely allows the physical battery capacity to shrink without compromising battery life. Indeed, Weinbach implies that improved efficiency has actively helped battery life to improve.

The only ‌iPhone 12‌ model expected to lose out is the 5.4-inch ‌iPhone 12‌ mini, and Weinbach yesterday reiterated this expectation. This is likely a limitation of the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini's small form factor, which has only allowed for a comparatively small internal battery, and it seems that the efficiency improvements of the A14 chip may not be enough to yield a superior battery life over the far larger ‌iPhone 11‌. Regardless, the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini's battery life may turn out to be much better than previous small models such as the iPhone SE or ‌iPhone‌ 8 due to the A14.

Apple's "Hi, Speed" event, which will almost certainly see the announcement of the ‌iPhone 12‌ lineup, will be streamed tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Update: Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has now issued shipment estimates via an investor's note, suggesting that the 6.1-inch ‌iPhone 12‌ will disproportionately outsell the 5.4-inch ‌iPhone 12‌ mini. The extent to which consumers may be put off from buying the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini on the basis of battery life is not yet known, but it will likely be a key factor in consumer choice.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 12 (Buy Now)

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