Best AA batteries 2023: Keep your toys and gadgets going for longer

Despite the majority of modern gadgets now opting for built-in batteries, there are still many useful household items that rely on good old AA batteries. Torches, toys, clocks and remote controls are among the most commonly used products requiring them, and you’ll find bridge and DSLR cameras, radios, video game controllers and travel shavers that are powered by them, too.

If you’re using just a few of the aforementioned gadgets, you’re bound to get through plenty of batteries over the course of the year. That may make rechargeable batteries a more appealing option in the long term, but they’re not as convenient, and for certain devices, you’re better off sticking with disposables. Of course, not any disposable will do, you want batteries with a decent life so they won’t need replacing when you need them most.

Below you’ll find the list of those that came on top in their respective categories. If you need further guidance as to which batteries suit your needs best, there’s a buying guide towards the bottom of the page explaining the differences between various types of batteries, including rechargeable variants.

Best AA batteries: At a glance

How to choose the best AA batteries for you

AA batteries might be cheap and cheerful, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Different manufacturers use different chemistries and processes to make them, and there are big differences in terms of how much power the battery can supply, how long it lasts and how fast the battery loses energy while not in active use. For some purposes – when you’re powering low-drain devices such as a clock or remote control – the differences aren’t that important, but with high-drain devices like a camera, game controller or anything with a lamp, screen or motor, you could see huge differences in lifespan and reliability.

Today’s disposable batteries break down into three basic types:

Zinc chloride: This used to be the general-purpose battery of choice, but alkaline batteries are now so cheap that you don’t often see them. They’re cheap as chips when bought in bulk and fine for low-drain gadgets such as a remote control, but you’ll go through them quickly on anything more demanding.

Alkaline: The mainstream battery technology for high-drain devices. They’re cheap and very easy to find, and last much longer than the old zinc chloride batteries. Technical advances have also seen the major problems – a short shelf life and a propensity to leak – reduced or even fixed.

Lithium: Lithium batteries work even better than alkalines. They last much longer, have an epic shelf life, don’t discharge as much power when not in use and can cope with extreme temperatures. While normal alkaline AAs struggle below 0°C, lithium batteries will operate down to -40°C. They can also be up to 9g lighter than the equivalent alkaline AA battery, which counts when you have something powered by four AAs. The only negative? They’re significantly more expensive.

Generally speaking, you should go for alkalines for most of your battery needs but opt for lithiums for digital cameras or other high-drain products where you need a reliable high charge for as long as possible.

Should I buy rechargeables instead?

In many cases, yes. rechargeables don’t deliver as much voltage as disposables (typically 1.25V rather than 1.5V), but they normally maintain the same level for longer and can just be recharged when they run dry. You pay more upfront for the batteries and the charger (if you need one), but you’ll recoup the difference within a couple of uses – and AA batteries cost so little to recharge that it’s barely worth thinking about. Factor in the clear environmental issues and it’s a no-brainer, although many local councils and some supermarkets now offer free recycling.

There are exceptions to the rule, though. Sometimes you just need batteries and it’s neither possible nor convenient to get rechargeables. What’s more, most rechargeables tend to self-discharge over time, steadily losing charge until they’re basically useless and need a recharge. That’s not a problem for many devices, where you use them intensively over short periods, but for something you use over a long period, such as a remote control, regular recharges soon become annoying. You may find the same with game controllers, toys and some other gadgets and devices. Here, standard disposable AA batteries often work out better, simply because they don’t self-discharge at anywhere near the same rate.

How we test AA batteries

To work out which AA batteries are best for various situations, we run them in pairs in a high-powered, 500 lumens LED torch, measuring the voltage every 30 minutes. The torch requires a steady 1.5V to run at full brightness and approximately 1.2V to run at an acceptable brightness level, under which most batteries fall within 60 to 90 minutes of use. We’ll also use the batteries in a range of devices, including games controllers and portable radios, to get an idea of how well they last in lower drain gadgets or over longer periods of use.

READ NEXT: The best rechargeable batteries

The best AA batteries you can buy in 2023

1. Energizer Ultimate Lithium: The longest-lasting AA battery

Price when reviewed: £8.98 (x4) | Check price at Amazon

If you’re looking for a battery that can go the distance no matter the drain, look no further than the Energizer Ultimate Lithium. While 33% lighter than the equivalent alkaline battery, each one packs in a whole lot of charge; even after powering our 500 lumens test torch for 90 minutes they could still deliver 1.48V, keeping it at maximum brightness long after other batteries allowed the light to fade. After a further 90 minutes, we still had nearly 1V on our test meter.

That’s one impressive performance and, with a 20-year storage lifespan and the ability to work in temperatures from -40°C to 60°C, they won’t let you down. Needless to say, you pay for that kind of stamina. Even if you buy a 10-pack you’re looking at around £1.35 per battery, or over £1.60 if you buy a four-pack. Still, if you really need a long-lasting battery, you’ll just have to swallow the price.

Key specsChemistry: Lithium; Stated voltage: 1.5V; Also available in: AAA, 9V

2. Amazon Basics Performance Alkaline: Best budget battery

Price when reviewed: From £6.11 (x8) | Check price at Amazon

The phrase “cheap and cheerful” pretty much sums these up. Amazon will sell you 12 for a £6 or 20 for less than £9, and you’ll struggle to find alkaline batteries from a reputable brand at a more cutthroat price. The Basics still have a ten-year shelf life and an anti-leak design and use patented Japanese technology to minimise self-discharge and maintain good levels of performance.

As always, you get what you pay for and the Basics lose power faster than their pricier rivals, with the voltage dipping below 1V after just 90 minutes of use, leaving our high-intensity torch with a pathetic-looking output. For low-drain devices, though, you can’t go wrong – a pack should keep your remote controls working for years.

Key specsChemistry: Alkaline; Stated voltage: 1.5V; Also available in: AAA, 9V, C, D

3. Energizer Alkaline Power: Best everyday battery

Price when reviewed: From £9.49 (x16) | Check price at Amazon

Most of us don’t buy batteries in advance but grab them when we need them, in which case the Energizer Alkaline Power batteries are ideal for everyday use. They’re often cheap both in supermarkets and online stores, and you can pick them up for around 40p per battery if you buy in bulk. This might lead you to expect sub-par stamina, but the Energizers could surprise you: they were the top alkaline battery at the 60 and 90 minute marks in our tests, although they struggled further on with the voltage falling to just 0.75V after three hours of use, leaving the torch looking visibly near-drained. Not your first choice, then, for high-drain devices, but if you’re looking to keep a wide range of gadgets in power, this is a great, cheap way to do so.

Key specsChemistry: Alkaline; Stated voltage: 1.5V; Also available in: AAA

4. Duracell Optimum: Best Alkalines for high-drain devices

Price when reviewed: From £5.45 | Check price at Amazon

Replacing the old Ultra Power line of high-performance batteries, the Optimum might be Duracell’s best batteries yet. The Ultra Power pulled ahead of most alkalines in our high-drain tests, still delivering 1.27V after 30 minutes of action in our 500 lumens torch. The Optimum is even better, with 1.35V after 30 minutes and 1.26V after an hour, where the Ultra Power cells were starting to run low. Even after three hours there was still over 1.2W in each battery; only the lithium batteries on test last longer. We also like the easy-open cardboard packaging. If you’re looking for a battery for heavy workloads but don’t want to stretch beyond alkaline prices, the Optimum is, well, the optimal choice.

Key specs – Chemistry: Alkaline; Stated voltage: 1.5V; Also available in: AAA

5. Duracell Plus: A great all-rounder

Price when reviewed: From £8 (x8) | Check price at Amazon

Duracell’s mainstream AA batteries don’t excel in any area, but they’re good all-round performers and worth picking up if you find them on sale. Duracell claims they deliver 50% more power than most AA batteries, and you still get Duralock technology to keep them fresh for up to ten years in storage.

The Duracell Plus batteries can’t keep up with the newer Optimum AAs and, like most of the mainstream alkalines, couldn’t deliver a consistently high voltage by the time they reached the 180-minute mark. That’s a problem if you have motors and high-powered torches to power, but for clocks, game controllers and remotes, for example, the Duracells will do a cracking job.

Key specsChemistry: Alkaline; Stated voltage: 1.5V; Also available in: AAA, 9V, C, D

6. GP Ultra: Low costs and solid everyday performance

Price when reviewed: From £20 (x40) | Check price at Amazon

GP’s Ultra batteries are a reliable alternative to Poweradd batteries, getting you a decent level of performance at a bargain basement price. You can easily pick up 40 for £20. They’re not the best in terms of stamina, with one of our two test AAs dipping to under 0.7V after 90 minutes of use and the other on just 1.16V, but they’re better in less demanding applications, where they match the performance of the AmazonBasics and PowerAdd AAs. They also come in AAA, C, D and 9v versions, and promise a 10-year storage lifespan. More expensive batteries will last you longer, but the GP Ultras are a good choice if you like to buy in bulk.

Key specs – Chemistry: Alkaline; Stated voltage: 1.5V; Also available in: AAA

7. Varta Longlife Power: Best for long-term stamina

Price when reviewed: From £4.49 (x8) | Check price at Amazon

Varta’s Longlife Power batteries live up to their name, keeping up with the best alkaline batteries after 60 minutes of testing, then surpassing them at the three-hour mark, still managing to deliver 0.9V of power when most competitors struggle to hit 0.8V. That won’t be enough juice to run a power-hungry motor or keep our 500 lumens flashlight at full brightness, but if you’re running, say, a game controller, the Vartas should last a little longer than the rest. What’s more, they’re still guaranteed for ten years in storage. The price on the larger packs fluctuates considerable but we’ve seen them as low as 45p per battery if you purchase a pack of 20.

Key specsChemistry: Alkaline; Stated voltage: 1.5V; Also available in: AAA, 9V, D, 3LR12

8. Nice Power Lithium: Lithium lifespans on a budget

Price when reviewed: From £15 (x8) | Check price at Amazon

Lithium batteries last longer on high-drain devices, but they also cost a fair bit more than normal Alkalines. However, with these budget Lithium batteries that price premium isn’t quite so heavy, with four AAs available for less than £5 – or you can buy them in bulk for under £20. They’re designed to hold their charge for up to 10 years and cope with temperatures down to -40°C and up to 60°C, and the box informs you that they’re proofed against leakage and explosion – something we’d always regard as a plus.

Now, reviews on Amazon aren’t always positive about these batteries’ performance, with users of Blink outdoor cameras particularly enraged. However, in our tests we found that a pair lasted as well as the equivalent Energizer Lithiums, with 1.47V even after 90 minutes, going down to 1.36V after three hours, which is actually a better result than we had with our existing champs. More anecdotally, we’ve also found them lasting weeks of hard use in an Xbox Series S controller. Blink owners will want to give them a miss, but otherwise they’re well worth a punt.

Key specs – Chemistry: Lithium; Stated voltage: 1.5V; Also available in: AA, AAA

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