Apple Challenging Reports of Spotty MacBook Pro Battery Life

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.

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.

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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.   

Working with CR to understand their battery tests. Results do not match our extensive lab tests or field data. — Philip Schiller (@pschiller) December 24, 2016

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.

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