Battery Life, Verdict
The operating system can have a huge impact on battery life, even when the hardware remains the same. I was a bit disappointed with the endurance of the Prime in our review, but ICS might help compensate for it. Let’s find out.
It appears that ICS has improved battery life on the Prime. Results in our two battery benchmarks went up between 20% and 25%, which is a significant increase.
Of course, it’s possible that other devices will see similar increases if they are updated to ICS. This improvement puts the battery life almost on par with the original Transformer, but if the Transformer also receives ICS (as it is supposed to) the Prime might once again be left behind.
There is a base level of expected performance from a tablet’s battery, however, and I think the Prime now at least meets it. In our best case scenario, the Peacekeeper Browser Benchmark at 30% brightness, the Prime lasted over eight and a half hours. And don’t think that 30% brightness is an unrealistic setting, either. If you aren’t using the Prime in a brightly lit room or near an open window on a sunny day, 30% is adequate.
For tablets, Ice Cream Sandwich is a mixed bag. Anyone who was expecting a major revision to the interface is going to be disappointed. Google never promised that, at least not for tablets – and that would be fine if Android didn’t have flaws. But it does, and it seems as if we’ll need to wait some time before they’re addressed.
Performance is also a concern. In our testing we saw that the overall performance picture seems to have worsened in some areas and improved in others. Overall, I’d say the Prime now feels a little quicker with ICS installed, but anyone expecting a big boast in speed will once again be disappointed. The new operating doesn’t squeeze much more out of the quad-core Tegra 3 than did Honeycomb.
Battery life is the only area where we see a substantial gain after installing ICS. This alone is important. On the Prime it makes the underwhelming endurance at least adequate. If we see similar improvements in other ICS tablets it may finally be possible for Android tablets to trade blows with iOS in this area.
Though I’m not happy with Ice Cream Sandwich overall, I am pleased to see that it has enhanced battery life on the Prime. Yet I still don’t feel that the Prime is worthy of an Editor’s Choice, and that’s entirely due to the operating system. It remains significantly behind iOS, and as long as that is the case, it will be nearly impossible for any Android tablet to knock Apple off the top of the tablet hill.