Consumer Reports Stands By Apple MacBook Pro Snub Despite Backlash Over Battery Life Findings

It seems as though the hits keep coming for Apple with regards to its 2016 MacBook Pro notebooks. The notebooks were announced in October, and customers began taking delivery shortly afterwards. It didn’t take long for customers to start complaining about poor battery life, which shouldn’t be too surprising given the fact that Apple dramatically reduced the battery capacity of the new notebooks while not making a similar reduction in overall power consumption.

Consumer Reports’ backed up user complaints of wildly fluctuating battery life with its own testing, and for the first time ever failed to give the MacBook Pro range a “Recommended” rating. Needless to say, some ardent Apple fans weren’t too happy with Consumer Reports’ findings and threw accusations of bias towards the publication. Some Apple fan sites even went so far as to question its credibility, even though this marked just one instance when Apple’s laptops failed to make the grade while going through a standard benchmark suite that all notebooks are subjected to.

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Despite the criticism, Consumer Reports is sticking by its findings. In a statement to 9to5 Mac, Maria Rerecich, director of electronics, wrote:

In this case, we don’t believe re-running the tests are warranted for several reasons. First, as we point out in our original article, experiencing very high battery life on MacBooks is not unusual for us – in fact we had a model in our comparative tests that got 19 hours. Second, we confirmed our brightness with three different meters, so we feel confident in our findings using this equipment. Finally, we monitor our tests very closely. There is an entry logged every minute, so we know from these entries that the app worked correctly.

In other words, Consumer Reports did its testing the same way it does for all other laptops and monitored the results closely. It shouldn’t have to keep repeating its tests or modify its results to account for the discrepancy found on the MacBook Pros.

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For its part, Phil Schiller last week said that Apple is working with Consumer Reports to get to the root of the battery life issues:

However, Apple won’t be able to work around the fact that there is simply less energy to work with when it comes to the batteries included with this 2016 MacBook Pro refresh:

  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015): 99.5 WHr battery
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016): 76 WHr battery
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2015): 74.9 WHr battery
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2016): 54.5 WHr battery
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2016): 49 WHr battery

The quest for thinness has its costs, and it looks as though Apple may have bitten off more than it can chew on this one.