Consumer Reports Changes MacBook Pro Rating After Apple Issues Patch

In December, Consumer Reports made headlines when it decided not to recommend Apple's new MacBook Pros. At the time, the publication said its conclusion was based on inconsistent battery test results which showed the same laptops lasting anywhere from 3 to 19 hours, a huge delta. Now, after Apple shared a beta macOS software patch with its testers, Consumer Reports has updated its advice, giving the MacBook Pros a positive rating.

After applying the software update, Consumer Reports says that it got much longer endurance on its test. The MacBook Pro 15-inch, MacBook Pro 13-inch and MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar lasted 15.75, 18.75 and 17.75 hours respectively.

"The process we followed with Apple is the same process we follow with any manufacturer when we discover a significant problem," Consumer Reports writes in a blog post. "We shared our test results with the company so it could better understand our findings and deliver a fix to consumers. Since Apple made a fix, we retested the laptops."

Like Laptop Mag, Consumer Reports tests notebook battery life using a benchmark that involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi at a brightness of 100 nits. Unlike us, the publication uses web pages from its own local server and it disables the browser cache in order to force laptops to download all the content, every time.

In our testing, the MacBook Pro 15-inch lasted 10 hours and 32 minutes on a charge, the MacBook Pro 13-inch endured for 9 hours and 50 minutes and the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar died after 8 hours and 48 minutes.

Apple initially criticized Consumer Reports for disabling the cache in Safari, because the company said that few consumers would do that. However, what the lab is doing is accurately simulating the experience of visiting hundreds of web pages during a test rather than just loading 10 pages at first and grabbing them from the cache again and again.

We don't know how Apple's software patch improves MacBook battery life while surfing, but it clearly makes a huge difference. You can get the macOS update now through Apple's Beta program or wait for it to be released into production within the next few weeks.

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Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.