The new MacBook Pro is the first MacBook that won’t receive a purchase recommendation from Consumer Reports. The consumer group says the new laptop’s battery life “varied dramatically” from one trial to the next.
Apple launched a new series of MacBook Pro laptops this fall, and Consumer Reports’ labs have just finished evaluating them. The laptops did very well in measures of display quality and performance, but in terms of battery life, we found that the models varied dramatically from one trial to another.
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.
The organization says that as a rule, a laptop’s battery life generally varies by less than 5% from test to test, but due to the “disparate figures” measured in MacBook Pro testing, an average battery life that consumers might realistically expect from the laptop could not be determined.
Consumer Reports detailed their testing methods:
For the battery test, we download a series of 10 web pages sequentially, starting with the battery fully charged, and ending when the laptop shuts down. The web pages are stored on a server in our lab, and transmitted over a WiFi network set up specifically for this purpose. We conduct our battery tests using the computer’s default browser—Safari, in the case of the MacBook Pro laptops.
During the tests, we set each laptop screen to remain on. We use an external meter to set the display brightness to 100 nits—a typical level you might use indoors or out. And, we turn off any automatic brightness adjustment in the laptop’s settings.
We also update every computer’s operating system before we begin any testing. We began our tests several weeks ago, but repeated the battery tests using macOS Sierra 10.12.2 after it was released. We saw no difference in the results.
As a reflection of the varied figures, Consumer Reports used the lowest battery score, preventing the new MacBook Pro lineup from getting a recommendation. “Consumer Reports finds that all three MacBook Pro laptops fail to meet our standards for recommended models,” says the organization.
The group tested three MacBook Pro units: a 13-inch model without the Touch Bar, a 13-inch model with Apple’s new Touch Bar, and a 15-inch model with a Touch Bar. (All new 15-inch MacBook Pros include the Touch Bar.) All three machines were bought at retail, which is how all products rated by Consumer Reports are obtained, in order to ensure that the models tested are identical to those a consumer would purchase.
Apple would not provide a comment about the report to Consumer Reports, saying simply: “Any customer who has a question about their Mac or its operation should contact AppleCare.”