iPhone 5, Galaxy S III cost less than $1 per year to charge

If you're buying an iPhone 5, you're probably paying a lot of money for the handset. That's especially true if you're buying the phone directly from Apple without a two-year contract, as the cost of the 16GB model is set at $649 – and that's the least expensive model on offer. That certainly isn't cheap, but there's one aspect of the iPhone 5 that isn't expensive at all: the cost to charge it.

The folks at Opower ran some tests and determined that the iPhone 5 only costs an estimated 41 cents per year to charge. Getting a little more specific, they used the Watts Up Pro Consumption Power Meter to figure out how much electricity the iPhone 5 consumes when charging from 0% to 100%. Once they had those results, it only took a little bit of math to figure out how much it will cost consumers to charge their iPhone 5 per year.

The test assumes that these iPhone 5 users are charging their shiny new handset once per day, which isn't unreasonable considering the iPhone 5's beefier battery compared to past iPhones. Just for kicks, the Opower team also tested the Galaxy S III and determined that it costs 53 cents per year to charge Samsung's flagship. Why the discrepancy between the two handsets? The Galaxy S III features a bigger battery than the iPhone 5, meaning it takes a little bit more electricity to fully charge it.

Still, the difference between the two is negligible, especially since the cost is spread out over an entire year. It's somewhat surprising that the cost to charge a cell phone is so low, but Opower also reminds us that the power usage is actually quite significant when we take all smartphone users into account. That's set to increase quite a bit in the near future too, as it's estimated that by 2016, a whopping 1 billion people around the world will have smartphones. If you have a few minutes, be sure to read through Opower's entire report, as it's all very fascinating. What do you think of this little experiment?