Apple responds to damning MacBook Pro battery test

December 2, 2016


The dark cloud hovering over the MacBook Pro since its release grew larger earlier this week when Consumer Reports delivered a stinging report claiming that the laptop’s battery life was inconsistent. That report resulted in the nonprofit organization’s decision to, for the first time, not give the MacBook Pro its “recommended” ratting.

Late Friday, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, took to Twitter to alert the public to the fact that the company was in contact with Consumer Reports regarding the report.

“Working with CR to understand their battery tests,” wrote Schiller, referencing one of the many reports that highlighted the major blow to Apple’s long track record of positive MacBook Pro reviews from the nonprofit. “Results do not match our extensive lab tests or field data.”

That’s all Schiller would say, but the statement indicates that Apple may be taking issue with Consumer Reports’ testing methods. However, the product reviewer’s widely respected position as an impartial organization with historically rigorous testing makes Apple’s public questioning of their battery testing look more like damage control than a technical dispute.

In its report, the nonprofit delivered a fairly straightforward assessment of the MacBook Pro devices the organization purchased from a retail outlet.

“Results do not match our extensive lab tests or field data.” — Apple’s Phil Schiller

“The MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next,” wrote Jerry Beilinson, CR’s content development team leader for electronics. “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.”

Perhaps the biggest problem for Apple in this case is that CR’s testing only backs up what many users have been reporting for weeks regarding battery life problems with the MacBook Pro. Following those complaints, Apple released an update to macOS Sierra (10.12.2) that removed “time remaining” from the system’s dropdown menu. Nevertheless, the odd update has only stoked concerns from some users regarding the reliability of the batteries in the new MacBook Pro laptops.

These latest issues follow the initial critiques leveled at the new MacBook Pro for doing away with things like the SD card slot and the MagSafe magnetic charging port, while adding what many see as an unnecessary new Touch Bar.

Now that Schiller has weighed in on the CR report, unless Apple somehow comes up with some brilliant explanation for the battery results, the fortunes of the new MacBook Pro may continue to slide into the history books as one of Apple’s rare hardware misses.

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