Apple Challenging Reports of Spotty MacBook Pro Battery Life

  • MORE

In a move that broke with years of ringing endorsements for Apple's MacBook Pro notebooks, the venerable Consumer Reports publication announced last Thursday (Dec. 22) that it could not recommend this year's new models. And while the firm based its decision around battery life problems, Apple's pushing back against the claims, which do not match its internal testing.macbook pro 15 touch w g02

Consumer Reports' battery tests show a wildly varying series of test times, with the 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro ranging from as long as 16 hours to as short as 3 hours and 45 minutes. The 13-inch model without a Touch Bar went 19:30 in one test and then 4:30 in another. The 15-inch Touch Bar unit also showed unpredictable life, with results ranging from 18.5 to 8 hours.

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

Just like the Laptop Mag Battery Test, Consumer Reports sets the notebook brightness level to 100 nits. The firm also applied all updates, bringing the notebooks to up to macOS Sierra version 10.12.2, though it saw no difference in the numbers after those updates.

In a tweet, Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing announced that those numbers didn't match Apple's "extensive lab tests or field data." Passively blaming Consumer Reports, Schiller noted that Apple's working with the firm to "understand" its battery tests.   

In its original announcement, Consumer Reports noted it "shared diagnostic files pulled from all three computers with Apple in the hope that this will help the company diagnose and fix any problem."

We didn't see this uneven performance in our tests, nor did we see any significant issues. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves browsing the web continuously over Wi-Fi, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar made it 8 hours and 48 minutes, the 15-inch Touch Bar model lasted for 10:32, and the 13-inch model sans Touch Bar endured 9:50.

Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
Add a comment
2 comments
  • Dominik Says:

    AFAIK, memory leaks are not a problem for battery usage. Memory is using roughly the same amount of power if it's taken in 10% and if it's taken in 90%. If there is an error (and I assume there isn't as CR are not the only people reporting the issue, just go through apple support forums) then this would be connected to some threads not being finished after each run. The only situation where higher memory usage would result in worse battery life is if system would have to go to swap... But once again, I just think that CR hit the tip of an iceberg and Apple has some serious problems with their Macbook Pro battery life (along Wifi & USB3 issues).

  • Matthew Says:

    With the drastic reduction in battery life on subsequent tests, it sounds like the CR testing script might have a memory leak in it that eats up tons of system resources as it repeats itself.

Back to top