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iPad Q&A - Revised December 18, 2012

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What is the battery life of the original iPad in "real-world" tests? Is it possible to replace the battery?

Officially, Apple reports that both models of the original iPad provide "up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music" and the Wi-Fi/3G/GPS-equipped model provides "up to 9 hours of surfing the web using [a] 3G data network."

However, long-term tech enthusiasts know that it is wise to be skeptical of official manufacturer claims regarding battery life and independent third-party tests are necessary for objective results.

Third-Party Battery Life Test Results

Apple selected a privileged few to review the iPad prior to its ship date and they put the Wi-Fi-only iPad through a variety of "real-world" tests.

In a brief review, David Pogue of the New York Times tested video playback and found:

The iPad played movies continuously from 7:30 a.m. to 7:53 p.m. -- more than 12 hours. That’s four times as long as a typical laptop or portable DVD player.

The WSJ's Walt Mossberg tested video playback -- while downloading e-mail in the background -- and said:

I was impressed with the iPad's battery life, which I found to be even longer than Apple's ten-hour claim, and far longer than on my laptops or smart phones. For my battery test, I played movies, TV shows and other videos back-to-back until the iPad died. This stressed the device's most power-hogging feature, its screen. The iPad lasted 11 hours and 28 minutes, about 15% more than Apple claimed.

BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin focused more on Internet use -- as well as video and gaming -- concluding that:

Battery life is better than I anticipated. I got a full day of constant internet-connected use (it did not leave my hands) on one charge. More than 12 hours, with heavy video and gaming, and screen cranked up to full brightness.

In the most in-depth pre-release review, PCMag's Tim Gideon reported that iPad's "rechargeable lithium-polymer battery netted a respectably close battery life of 9 hours and 25 minutes" in a "rundown" test.

In an in-depth follow up review of the 3G-equipped iPad, the always objective iLounge was impressed by the battery life, noting:

Our prior iPad with Wi-Fi battery tests found that Apple was generally at least a little conservative in its estimates; for instance, we previously put the Wi-Fi model through a web torture test with repeated 1-minute refreshes of a large, completely loaded page for 10 hours and 21 minutes on 50% brightness over 802.11n, beating Apple's number by just a little. Repeating the exact same test on the Wi-Fi + 3G model with 3G turned on and Wi-Fi turned off, the iPad achieved 8 hours and 38 minutes of continuous reloading and displaying, or 22 minutes shy of Apple's estimate.
To underscore something that the numbers should say on their own, 8 hours and 38 minutes of 3G cellular networking time is excellent by virtually any standard. . . Moreover, the 22 minute difference between our and Apple's numbers is trivial given how demanding this particular test is; few users reload or change pages every minute.

Ultimately, 10 hours of use is a reasonable estimate of battery life for Wi-Fi use and 9 hours is a reasonable estimate of battery life over a 3G network as well.

Official Battery Replacement Details

Those who have been following Apple for some time should not be surprised that the battery in the iPad is not designed to be "swapped" or even replaced by the end user. When the battery no longer holds a sufficient charge, you are officially required to send the iPad to Apple for replacement. Apple charges US$99 for servicing plus US$6.95 for shipping (US$105.95 plus tax).

Interestingly, in addition to providing pricing information, Apple officially states that the company "will replace your iPad for a service fee" and "you will receive a replacement iPad that will not contain any of your personal data." This indicates that Apple reserves the right to send a different iPad rather than actually replacing the battery in the one sent in.

Battery Self-Replacement Option

As first spotted by Engadget, the FCC leaked internal photos of the iPad prior to its ship date and iFixit examined the photos and discovered that the battery is not soldered in place (the final shipping units likewise do not have a soldered battery either).

Although it may not be easy to replace the battery, and it is not officially supported by Apple, it is possible for a highly skilled iPad user to replace the battery himself or herself should it be desired. Third-party iPad battery replacement services are available, too.

Also see: How do I replace the battery in the original iPad?

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