Will the new MacBook Pro really offer the 'longest battery life ever in a Mac'?

MacBook Pro M2 Pro 14-inch and 16-inch with lids open
(Image credit: Future)

While the performance of the M2 Pro in the new MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch will draw the most attention, the battery life may be real highlight with Apple boasting the 16-inch model will offer the "longest battery life ever in a Mac."

Given that Apple already dominates a good portion of our laptops with the best battery life and Apple is playing up the efficiency enhancements of the new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips that shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. We have Apple's claims of 22 hours for the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro, but we wanted to take a closer look at Apple's previous claims versus reality to see just how long we can expect it to last.

Current MacBooks with the longest battery life

Just like every laptop that comes in for review, we put MacBooks through our rigorous battery life test that involves continuously surfing the web on Wi-Fi with the display set at 150 nits of brightness. While your mileage will vary depending on your usage, this gives us an accurate look at which laptops will offer you the best battery life.

Here's a rundown of our battery life test results for the current MacBook lineup.

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Battery life (hh:mm)
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch M218:20
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch M116:32
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Max15:32
Apple MacBook Air M114:41
Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro14:09
Apple MacBook Air M214:07

How will the MacBook Pros with M2 Pro and M2 Max stack up?

Apple claims that both of the new MacBook Pro models will offer an hour of additional battery life over their predecessors. It's important to note that Apple's test is Apple TV app movie playback, which is less taxing than our test so yields longer runtimes.

For the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro Apple indicates it will last 18 hours (up from 17 hours) and the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro will go for 22 hours (up from 21 hours).

We'll have the official answer when we get these laptops in our lab, but for now we wanted to take a look at some of Apple's claims versus the final results to see how close we can get to the real numbers. 

The M2 and M1-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro owns the two top spots currently. Interestingly Apple claimed 20 hours of video playback for both, but the M2 model scored a decisive victory with almost 2 full hours of additional battery life at 18 hours and 20 minutes. 

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch 2022 battery life

(Image credit: Future)

However, things are a little different when we turn to the only other laptops that we have M1 and M2 results for at the moment, the MacBook Air. Apple reported 18 hours of battery life for the Air M1 and an astounding 20 hours for the Air M2. Both came up well short of these marks with the Air M1 dying at 14 hours and 41 minutes, while the Air M2 called it quits at 14 hours and 7 minutes. The latter is almost 6 hours or one-third shorter than Apple's reported battery life.

The discouraging piece of the puzzle here is that the Air M2 mirrors the design of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. There's nothing intuitively about the design that suggests it should take a thermal hit versus the old MacBook Pro design, but if the new models follow that path we could see them backslide a bit. To be clear, they have room to spare and still deliver some of the best battery life in their class, they just might not live up to "longest lasting battery ever in a Mac." 

The optimistic side of things would be looking at the MacBook Pro M2, which suggests we could see an even greater bump in battery life than Apple is projecting. If that comes to pass then there is no question that the 16-inch MacBook Pro M2 Pro would take the title of "longest battery life ever in a Mac" and perhaps longer battery life than any mainstream laptop we've tested. 

You won't have to wait too long to find out.

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.