Apple’s long-awaited MacBook Pro refresh has been met with some criticism thus far, primarily due to battery life concerns. Now, however, Consumer Reports is out with its look at the new MacBook Pro laptops, and it’s not good.
Consumer Reports says that the 2016 MacBook Pro is the first MacBook not to receive recommended ratings from the organization.
In a post breaking down the decision not to recommend the new MacBook Pros, Consumer Reports explains that while the new models held up well in terms of display quality and performance, the battery life issues were too big of an issue to overlook.
The organization tested three MacBook Pro variants: a 13-inch Touch Bar model, a 15-inch Touch Bar model, and a 13-inch model without the Touch Bar. The general consensus was that “MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next.”
Consumer Reports explains that the 13-inch Touch Bar model saw battery life of 16 hours in one test and 3.75 hours in another, while the non-Touch Bar model maxed out at 19.5 hours, but also lasted just 4.5 hours in another test. The 15-inch model ranged from 18.5 hours to 8 hours.
Generally, according to the report, it’s expected for battery life to vary from one trial to another by less than 5 percent, meaning that the battery life variances with the new MacBook Pro are very abnormal.
Here’s what Consumer Reports says it does in a battery life test:
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.
Once that was completed, Consumer Reports experimented by conducting the same test using Chrome and “found battery life to be consistently high on all six runs.” While the organization can’t let that affect its final decision due to its protocol to only use the first-party browser, it’s something users may want to try.
The Chrome aspect of the test is interesting. Generally, macOS users have found that Chrome is a notorious power hog and drains the battery more quickly than Safari. Today’s findings, however, show that might have changed with the latest version of Chrome and the new MacBook Pro models.
Consumer Reports has generally been favorable towards Apple in the past. The organization has praised the company’s tech support, the Apple Watch, and iPad. Consumer Reports also found the iPhone 6 “Bendgate” issue to be less of a problem than initially thought, though the publication was rather hard on the iPhone 4 “Atennagate” flaw.
Our own tests showed around 8 hours of iTunes playback with the new MacBook Pro, which is less than Apple’s claim but still respectable.
Ultimately, however, Apple removed the “Time Remaining” estimate from macOS, which we explained here.