Consumer Reports, one of the most thorough publications performing testing on laptops, says Apple’s new MacBook Pros have problems with inconsistent battery life.
As a result, Apple’s latest laptops are the first from the company not to receive a “recommended” rating, Consumer Reports shared in a blog post on Thursday.
The tests included all three of Apple’s new MacBook Pro models: the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar, and both the 13- and 15-inch models with the Touch Bar, a new kind of touch screen integrated with the laptop’s keyboard.
Consumer Reports writes:
“The MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next.
“For instance, in a series of three consecutive tests, the 13-inch model with the Touch Bar ran for 16 hours in the first trial, 12.75 hours in the second, and just 3.75 hours in the third. The 13-inch model without the Touch Bar worked for 19.5 hours in one trial but only 4.5 hours in the next. And the numbers for the 15-inch laptop ranged from 18.5 down to 8 hours.
“Those were just a few of the results; we tested battery life on these laptops repeatedly.”
Consumer Reports tests battery life using a real-world test: It turns on the laptop’s screen and surfs 10 webpages over and over again on Safari. It’s not a test based on benchmarking software or watching video that wouldn’t require internet access, and the publication said that even recent software updates did not help the problem.
However, there have been some doubts raised about the quality of the testing. Apple has never claimed that its laptops can get 19 hours of battery life, so the test that showed a 19.5 hour battery life has been called into question on Twitter.
In addition, Safari is well-known for getting better battery life than Chrome — and Consumer Reports said that its Chrome tests showed more consistent battery life. A person familiar with the matter said that Apple has not yet received all the logs it needs to determine the source of the problem.
A known problem
Apple’s latest batch of laptops, which were released in October, have been reported to have inconsistent battery life.
It’s unusual because Apple was well known in the past for underpromising the battery life its laptops got.
Apple’s spec sheet promises 10 hours, but in Business Insider’s tests — not as rigorous as Consumer Reports’ test, but still valid — we found that the 13-inch model with Touch Bar got only about eight hours.
After the complaints surfaced, Apple released a new update to its Mac operating system that removed the “remaining” indicator from the system. The rationale? Apple told Business Insider that its macOS battery life calculations had become less accurate.
“When combined with the differing ways people use their Mac throughout the day, the calculation of remaining battery life displayed as a measure of time has become less accurate,” an Apple spokesperson told us. “With the latest update to Sierra, we have removed the remaining-time indicator.”