The MacBook Pro has won Consumer Reports’ “Recommended” rating ever since it was first introduced, but that winning streak ended yesterday. The publication stated that incredibly inconsistent battery performance with the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar meant that it could not wholeheartedly recommend the notebooks.
After the results of the publications testing went viral yesterday morning, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller took to Twitter to reassure 2016 MacBook Pro owners (and potential owners) that the issue will be resolved:
Working with CR to understand their battery tests. Results do not match our extensive lab tests or field data. https://t.co/IWtfsmBwpO— Philip Schiller (@pschiller) December 24, 2016
For those that need a refresher, all three of the 2016 MacBook Pros showed large fluctuations in runtimes. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar lasted as long as 19.5 hours and as short as 4.5 hours in Consumer Reports’ controlled testing.
“The widely disparate figures we found in the MacBook Pro tests, an average wouldn’t reflect anything a consumer would be likely to experience in the real world,” wrote the publication. “For that reason, we are reporting the lowest battery life results, and using those numbers in calculating our final scores.
“It’s the only time frame we can confidently advise a consumer to rely on if he or she is planning use the product without access to an electrical outlet.”
As we’ve previously reported, the new MacBook Pros were supposed to have a layered battery design (similar to that of the 12-inch MacBook) which would have allowed Apple to increase battery capacity. However, that plan fizzled, leaving Apple to fall back on older, lower-capacity batteries.
When users began to complain loudly about battery life, Apple issued the macOS 10.12.2 update that didn’t directly address the battery life issue, and instead simply removed the useful “Time Remaining” feature from the Menu Bar. Noted Apple blogger Jim Dalrymple explained this reasoning, writing, “Apple said the percentage is accurate, but because of the dynamic ways we use the computer, the time remaining indicator couldn’t accurately keep up with what users were doing. Everything we do on the MacBook affects battery life in different ways and not having an accurate indicator is confusing.”
Another respected Apple blogger, John Gruber, was a little less understanding. “My earlier ‘This is like being late for work and fixing it by breaking your watch’ analogy was a little unfair,” wrote Gruber. “It’s more like having a watch that doesn’t keep accurate time and fixing the problem by no longer wearing any watch, rather than fixing or replacing the broken one. That’s not as funny though.”
Whatever the case, now that the spotlight is squarely on Apple, the company has no choice but to pull as many engineers as possible from other projects to get to the bottom of this new “battery-gate”.