The black art of battery life testing takes time—that's why every launch day review had some version of "we'll get back to you"—as well they should. Now, after a weekend of testing, some hard data on battery numbers are starting to trickle in. But the iPhone is such a complex device that your results will likely vary from the numbers above.
But back to the scores. As you can see, they're kind of all over the place.
One takeaway seems to be that as far as straight-up 3G talk time goes, the iPhone 3G is near the top of the range—Wirelessinfo and PC World both found it to be among the best 3G handsets they've tested for voice talk time. For mixed use and browsing numbers, the range is pretty wide, since the variables at play are nearly infinite.
Ars Technica: 3:00-4:30 (mixed use); under 4:00 (video playback)
"Using the iPhone constantly for various tasks like reading e-mail, surfing the web, sending updates to Twitter, and using other apps that make use of the network connection, we managed to get anywhere from 3 to 4.5 hours of Internet use out of the device. As for video playback, we watched several TV shows purchased from iTunes back to back until the battery died completely. Doing this, the battery went from full to empty in just a hair under 4 hours."
Wirelessinfo: 5:50 (3G talk time)
"The iPhone 3G lasted five hours fifty minutes in our test of call time. This is significantly above average and is the best time amongst our comparison phones. The web browsing test on the iPhone 3G has been one of the most vexing. So far our results have been 162 minutes, 168 minutes, 253 minutes and 409 minutes. One possible factor is that we leave the backlight to set itself automatically as our standard is to leave settings in default except for a few like making sure the screen stays on."
PC World: 5:38 (3G talk time)
"The battery life on Apple's new 3G iPhone isn't great, but it beats that of other 3G smart phones we've seen. PC World's Test Centre ran it through our standard talk-time battery life test, and found that on average it ran 5 hours, 38 minutes, a running time that we consider earns a Fair rating...Of other handsets that support AT&T's HSDPA/UMTS network, only the HTC Touch Dual came close, with an average talk time of 5 hours, 18 minutes."
Engadget: 5:24 (video playback)
"We managed just 5 hours and 24 minutes of continuous playback of our 320 x 176, H.264 video encoded at 127kbps. (Our tests were conducted with the screen at half brightness, half volume, with Apple's stock headphones, WiFi on, but not connected, Bluetooth off, 3G and cellular radios on, and location services on — pretty much all the defaults.)"
PC Magazine: 5:43 (3G talk time)
"On our 3G talk time test, the iPhone lasted 5 hours, 43 minutes." [Spare no words, eh guys?]
CNET: 5:00 (3G talk time); 9:00 (EDGE talk time)
"On EDGE the iPhone 3G fell about an hour short of its rated time of 10 hours, while 3G calls matched the promised time of 5 hours. Those times aren't bad, but we'll run another round just to be sure."
Anandtech: 3:17 (3G web browsing)
"At 197 minutes, the iPhone 3G can keep you browsing for a little over 3 hours before completing dying. That's with no additional phone calls or anything else going on in the background, just constant surfing. The problem is that this is a very realistic scenario for many users."
DVICE: 2:54 (3G web browsing /mixed use)
"This is a real-world test, too. Just as Apple tested its iPhone 3G, I had Wi-Fi running but not associated with any network, call forwarding on, and "Ask to Join Networks" and Auto-Brightness were turned off. Then I just browsed from site to site as I would normally do, checking email and downloading a few apps from time to time. It was all 3G, all the time."
Walt Mossberg/WSJ: 4:27 (3G talk time); 5:49 (3G web surfing)
"In my test of [3G]voice calling, I got 4 hours and 27 minutes, short of Apple's maximum claim and nearly three hours less than what I recorded in the same test last year on the original iPhone. In my test of Internet use over 3G, I got 5 hours and 49 minutes, better than Apple's claim, but far short of the nine hours I got using Wi-Fi in last year's tests."