There are growing complaints about the new MacBook Pro models delivering battery life well below Apple’s claimed ten hours. While manufacturer claims are often based on unrealistic scenarios, a number of owners on both Apple’s support communities and Reddit are reporting numbers in the 3-6 hours range.

I’ve got my 15″ MBP a few days ago and I’m pretty disappointed by its battery life. If I do nothing but very light web browsing in Safari and brightness around 50% I can get it to about 6 hours. But not even close to the 10 hours promised.

The position is complicated by GPU use and the difference between estimates and actual life …

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A proportion of the complaints are based not on actual battery-life, but rather on the estimated remaining life shown when you click the battery icon in the menu bar. It appears that, even with the battery charged to 100%, some machines are calculating an estimated battery life of as little as three hours.

My own test, for example, showed an estimated life of 3h 49m with the battery fully-charged – but this is with Photoshop using the discrete GPU, which uses far more power.

estimated

However, even with Photoshop closed – and both the battery monitor and Activity Monitor confirming that nothing was using the Radeon Pro 460 GPU – the estimate did not improve. I ran the machine like this for 20 minutes to see if it changed, but no:

estimate2

However, my actual usage in a test running it down to 3% was a little over six hours, so there is clearly a big discrepancy between estimated and actual life. My understanding is that the CPU used in the latest models performs rapid switching between low power and high performance modes as required, and this can lead to wildly-varying battery life estimates. Apple says:

The battery status menu updates frequently and changes depending on your screen brightness and system workload. You may see the time remaining drop significantly, for instance, if it updates while opening a very large file or starting up an application. It’s important to remember it’s an estimate based on what your computer is doing at the specific time it updates.

It seems, then, that the company needs to do some software work to smooth out estimates to more of an average.

However, many of the posts relate to actual battery life experienced.

+1 for battery life disappointment. My 13″ MBP (w/ Touch Bar, 3.3GHz i7, 16GB, MacOS 10.12.2) is consistently getting 5.5hrs of actual use – I have run several battery cycles from 100% until it dies.  I have been on wifi and purposely not doing anything taxing (mail, safari, notes, message, and a couple other apps). I called Apple Support on Monday and they did a couple diagnostic checks before making me a Genius Bar (GB) appt.  GB did not know what to do – I was the first 2016 MBP they had seen.  Machine is great otherwise.  How do you enable solar power on the touch bar?

[…]

But the real issue here is that Apple claims 10 hours through “light use” whereas actual time/estimated time is closer to 3-6 hours depending on who you speak to (mine: MBP 13″ with touch bar is close to 6 hours).  This is a huge discrepancy that cannot be ignored.

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I have been having exactly the same issue – its been a frustrating week to say the least. I was delivered a new MacBook pro 15″ with touchbar 512gb version and noticed immediately that the batter was giving me maximum 4 hours of light use. A huge step down from my MacBook pro late 2015 retina (8 hours roughly). This was all quite confusing seeing as i was on the same OS version 10.12.2 beta 4 on both.

We’ll be posting a video tomorrow showing how to accurately determine your own machine’s battery-life. We’ve asked Apple for comment, and will update with any response.