Today I present an overview of the four most common ways of powering a car in 2020 – little disclaimer there since this almost certianly won’t be the case in 2030!
1) ICE – Internal combustion engine car ⛽
This car is 100% powered by fossil fuels, i.e. fuels up with petrol or diesel to burn in the “combustion chamber” (engine).
ICE cars get a around 30-55mpg (miles per gallon) in combined (urban and rural) driving conditions.
2) Mild hybrid – what Toyota and Lexus like to call “self-charging” ⛽
These are also 100% powered by fossil fuels.
When braking, some energy is recovered from the spinning wheels which feeds a small battery – similar to how a 12-volt battery is charged. The car can then drive a limited distance on this charge. Any physicist will tell you “self-charging” isn’t possible, the energy comes from somewhere – in this case it’s from the petrol that was burnt.
Mild hybrid cars get a around 35-60mpg on average.
3) PHEV– Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle ⛽🔋
These cars can drive a short distance (10-25 miles) on electricity alone. They can be plugged in to charge like an electric car or filled up with petrol and driven like an ICE car.
They have regenerative breaking to recover energy back into the battery. So once they use up their charge, they are effectivly a mild hybrid.
The disadvantage of PHEVs is they are less efficient than EVs in electric mode and less efficient than an ICE cars in petrol mode, since they are carrying the weight of an engine and fuel tank, as well as a motor and a battery.
Plug-in hybrids get a around 50-75mpg on average.
4) EV or BEV – Battery electric vehicle 🔋
These cars are 100% powered by electricity. That energy could come from the UK grid (currently still 30% fossil fuel powered) or it could come from renewables – such as charging solar panels on your roof.
Many electric cars have one-pedal driving, recovering energy back into the battery, right until the car stops – the most efficient way of slowing down.
Electric vehicles can achive over 175mpge (miles per gallon electric)!
Toyota, Lexus and Kia use self-charging as a term to describe their hybrids.
Mild hybrid doesn’t sound as exciting or technologically advanced as a self-charging car, which is probably why they market them as that!
How Do Self-Charging Cars Work?
A self-charging hybrid has a small battery and an electric motor. When the vehicle brakes, the initial phase of braking is used to charge the battery. Brakes (disks and pads) then kick-in after.
This is a basic form of regenerative braking (or regen) something plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (BEVs) do too, but to a greater degree and effectiveness.
The small amount of energy recovered from braking is then able to be used to drive a limited distance. The battery can only run for around a mile before it needs recharging.
What Powers a Self-Charging Hybrid?
Unfortunately, a self-powered car breaks the laws of physics, as the energy must come from somewhere. In one of Kia/Lexus/Toyota’s hybrids, the power comes from burning fossil fuels – the petrol in the internal combustion engine.
This means self-charging cars are 100% powered by petrol. All the propulsion achieved is down to petrol – since the cars don’t plug-in.
If we refer to hybrids as self-charging, we should really refer to all petrol and diesel cars as self-charging, since these cars don’t need plugging in to charge their 12-volt battery which powers the wipers, headlights and other electrical ancillery services.
How Far Can A Self-Charging Car Travel?
Toyota et al claim that their mild hybrids can be driven over 50% of the time on “pure electricity”. That makes them seem awfully green, given we tend to associate electricity with being green and petrol with being polluting. This claim is misleading for two reasons:
All the electricity used to driver is generated by burning petrol, so it certainly isn’t the clean energy you can get from the grid or solar on the roof of your house.
It’s crucial to remember that Totota reference time not distance – if you drive in stop-start traffic, the engine might be off for a large proportion of the time as you’re stationary. Some of the slower speed driving may be achievable using the battery, but because the battery is very small, it will drain extremly quickly and require recharging – so the petrol engine turns on. In terms of distance driven, around 1-3% of the distance driven uses the battery. This translats to around 2 miles in 100 miles of driving.
Do Self-Charging Cars Exist?
Will we ever see a car that can power itself? In the Toyota sense of self-charging, no. It’s not possible to drive a hybrid without putting petrol in it.
However, there are projects like Lightyear One, working to create cars that you may never need to plug-in! These are pure electric cars (not hybrids, so no fossil fuels) and can be charged by plugging-in, or from the solar panels built into the roof, bonnet and boot! ☀️⚡🔋🚗
Lightyear are aiming to be able to charge an impressive 12 kilometres (7 miles) from 1 hour of sunshine charging – using the solar panels on the roof! For those who drive short distances, or travel infrequently, that could mean you’d never need to plug-in!
I believe marketing a petrol car (100% powered by fossil fuels) as self-charging should be banned. It makes polluting cars that burn fossil fuels seem cleaner and if you don’t do your research, you might think you’re doing your bit to look after the environment when actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone didn’t have the wow factor that we’ve come to expect from new smartphone releases. It was by no means a flop – with retailers ordering more S5s than they did S4s in the 25 days after both phones launched – however it didn’t impress as much as it could have.
Now Samsung is back with a shiny new Galaxy S6 – it’s new metal and glass construct means it literally is shiny! – and it has clearly gone out of its way to set a new standard with the S6. For the first time, Samsung have released a phone which in terms of aesthetic build quality, is very similar to that of an iPhone. Also like Apple’s phone’s, Samsung’s latest Galaxy model does not have a removable back, meaning users cannot change the battery or add additional storage.
This is the first time that Samsung and Apple – the two giants of the smartphone world – have made devices which in terms of design and build, are actually pretty similar. That gives us a golden opportunity to compare the two phones spec for spec to determine which is truly the best.
The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are practicably identical in terms of tech specs, so for the purpose of this review I’ll be using the S6. Apple’s comparatively priced and sized phone is the iPhone 6 Plus, so that’s what I’ll be comparing the S6 to today – the iPhone 6 Plus versus the Galaxy S6!
You’d struggle to find a smartphone released these days which doesn’t come with a pretty competent camera. It’s a staple feature that most people have come to expect as standard from a new phone.
The Galaxy S6 boasts a phenomenal new 16 mega pixel rear camera, and a 5 mega pixel front facing camera – great for selfies. Speaking of selfies, the S6 is super selfie friendly, as you can take a selfie in loads of ways – pressing the volume buttons, covering the rear facing heart rate monitor with your finger, tapping the screen, or pressing the capture button. The S6 can also film in 4K, which for those who don’t know, is four times better than standard, 1080p HD. The ability to capture up to 120 frames per second (only 60 in HD) is also a handy feature.
iPhone 6 Plus
The iPhone’s rear camera is only 8 MP and it’s front camera is just 1.2 MP. The iPhone supports face detection on both it’s front and rear camera’s – as does the S6. The iPhone 6 Plus can also video in sloooow mooootion (see what I did there?) at 60 frames per second in HD, but it trumps the S6 in terms of how slow-mo it can go – an amazing 240 frames per second.
Camera tests, such as this one, and this one, show that in terms of camera it’s really a no-brainer. The S6 wins hands down. It’s cameras are both able to shoot at higher quality and leave images looking sharper than those produced by the iPhone. So you can make good use of the camera, Samsung has sped the launch up to just over half a second. Double click the home button and within a second you could be taking shots or shooting video – way faster than the iPhone 6 Plus.
Now lets look at how fast each of the phones is.
The S6 has some very capable hardware behind it, with two physical processors (1.5 GHz and 2.1 GHz) each split into 4 logical preprocessors, the S6 packs a pretty hefty 8 core processor, which is supported by an impressive 3 GB of RAM. The S6 is running Android with Samsung’s (now significantly slimmed down) TouchWiz ‘Disney Layer’ integrated on top. This is much faster, and less bloated than the TouchWiz seen on the S5.
iPhone 6 Plus
The iPhone 6 Plus has slightly more modest hardware, with one dual core 1.4 GHz processor, supported by 1 GB of RAM. It’s packed with the latest Apple mobile operating system iOS 8.
In speed tests, the S6 obliterates the 6 Plus. Despite it’s inferior software, iOS 8 does a really good job of using the iPhone’s limited hardware to get the best performance out of the phone. Whilst it seldom wins speed tests, it’s usually not far behind the S6.
One of the most important feature’s of any phone is the battery life. There’s no point in having a flashy gadget if you can’t use it because it’s got a shocking battery life. Battery life doesn’t appear to be improving that much, or too rapidly either, and if I want a phone purely for battery life, I’d still use my old Nokia 3510i!
Samsung’s S6 has gone backwards in terms of battery life compared to it’s predecessor, the Galaxy S5. GSM Arena ranks the S5 the 16th best smartphone/tablet ever in terms of battery performance; comparatively the S6 with its 2,550 mAh battery ranks a pitiful 46th.
Something to consider regarding the battery of the S6 is that it can charge wirelessly and it supports fast charging and ships with a fast charger. It also supports wireless charging.
Better battery life than all smartphones!
iPhone 6 Plus
On the same GSM rankings the iPhone 6 Plus ranks much better, coming in at 25th position – way ahead of the standard iPhone 6 which ranked a shocking 90th! This is largely thanks to its much bigger 2,915 mAh battery.
You can talk for up to 20 hours on Samsung’s S6 before it runs out of juice, whilst with Apple’s 6 Plus you’d get an extra 4 hours of nattering. The Galaxy S6 comes in slightly better than the iPhone 6 Plus in terms of web browsing time and video playback however. Ultimately, despite the fact that it’s easier to charge the S6, the 6 Plus has a bigger battery and seems to last longer, so this one’s a win for the iPhone.
Size, capacity, screen and price
Finally I’ll explore a few of each phone’s other features.
The iPhone 6 Plus has dimensions of 158.1×77.8×7.1 mm. The Galaxy S6 is slightly smaller in all dimensions, including depth, where it is 0.3mm thinner than the iPhone; its dimensions are 143.4×70.5×6.8 mm.
Samsung’s flagship phone comes in three sizes, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. Apple’s alternative also comes in 3 sizes, a smaller 16GB, 64GB and a huge 128GB. As I mentioned earlier, neither has expandable memory.
The iPhone’s screen is 5.5 inches, which is bigger than the Galaxy’s 5.1 inch display. Despite the iPhone’s bigger screen, Samsung wins in terms of pixel density, sporting an impressive 576 PPI, compared to the Apple alternative which has only 401 PPI.
On the day of publishing, the iPhone 6 Plus costed £699 GBP from Apple’s website. This is for a SIM-free, 64GB version with the device. The Galaxy S6 costs slightly less with a SIM-free, 64GB version of the phone costing £640 from Samsung’s website.
It has a better camera, it’s faster, it’s smaller, it’s got a better screen and it’s cheaper – how could I not choose Samsung’s Galaxy S6 as the winner. Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus does have a better battery, and it is a very good phone, but it is 6 months older than it’s Samsung rival and despite inferior technology it still costs more. No wonder Samsung has regained the smartphone sales crown.
Samsung have really upped their game with the S6 and that will no doubt cause Apple to up theirs when they release their next phone (expected to be the Apple iPhone 6S) in a few months time.