Apple Comments on Consumer Reports Testing of MacBook Pro Battery Life

Apple has issued a statement to media outlets such as The Loop, to comment on MacBook Pro battery life testing by Consumer Reports, which turned out to be controversial.

As it turns out, Apple uncovered Consumer Reports was using a “hidden Safari setting for developing web sites which turns off the browser cache,” which does not “reflect real-world usage.” This setting caused inconsistent results—and when Apple asked Consumer Reports to re-run their tests with normal settings, battery life results were the same as expected and “consistently delivered”. Check out the full statement below:

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with Consumer Reports over the holidays to understand their battery test results,” Apple said in a statement provided to The Loop.

“We learned that when testing battery life on Mac notebooks, Consumer Reports uses a hidden Safari setting for developing web sites which turns off the browser cache. This is not a setting used by customers and does not reflect real-world usage. Their use of this developer setting also triggered an obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons which created inconsistent results in their lab. After we asked Consumer Reports to run the same test using normal user settings, they told us their MacBook Pro systems consistently delivered the expected battery life. We have also fixed the bug uncovered in this test. This is the best pro notebook we’ve ever made, we respect Consumer Reports and we’re glad they decided to revisit their findings on the MacBook Pro.”

Consumer Reports responded today (via TechCrunch) as well, to say once they did enable caching again in Safari, “the three MacBooks we’d originally tested had consistently high battery life results.” They also stated a software fix is coming from Apple and will be available to beta testers first, which is related to an icon fetching bug, and should improve battery life.

Initial testing by Consumer Reports saw battery life range widely on MacBook Pro models, from 4 to 19.5 hours, but now we know they were not using real-life settings. Apple’s Phil Schiller said at the time they were “working with CR to understand their battery tests.”

Regardless, my 13-inch MacBook Pro is getting about five hours of battery life. So while Consumer Reports may have not used real-life settings, I can tell you from my experience I’ve yet to go near six hours. What about your new MacBook Pro with or without Touch Bar? How’s the battery life?

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Yeah, I would take everything done by Consumer Reports with a grain of salt. During “Bendgate,” when seemingly every YouTuber on the internet was able to bend the iPhone 6 with ease, Consumer Reports couldn’t figure out how to do it. While everyone showed in repeated videos that all one had to do was apply pressure on the LEFT SIDE of the phone near the volume buttons where there was a weak spot, Consumer Reports ignored all that and made a machine try to bend the entire phone all at the same time. Well guess what, it doesn’t work that way. The bending starts from the weak spot and slowly spreads. Consumer Reports concluded that all was well and all the bent phones were a figment of everyone’s imaginations. And when Apple fixed the issue in the iPhone 6S, Consumer Report was just sticking it’s fingers in their ears saying la la la we don’t hear anything – why would Apple fix something that we didn’t even find a problem with. So yeah, I don’t trust their first MacBook Pro battery test and I don’t trust their second one either. I believe Gary though 🙂

  • BigCat

    I agree with taking Consumer Reports with a grain of salt. Years ago Consumer Reports was regarded as an authority on consumer product testing. I remember when they did their tests on the iPhone 4 and demonstrated the signal loss when the phone was held by a bare hand. They used real instrumentation to show how and why the problem was occurred.

    These days CR has been cutting corners in an effort to quickly bang out hits that make a splash in the media. When they did their battery testing they got results that ranged from “4 to 19.5 hours”. They then stated that using Chrome produced not only longer, but also very consistent times. However, CR did not feel comfortable disclosing these results and opted to go with a “Not recommended” verdict.

    Gary, I have another long haul flight. I will give my 13″ touch bar a workout and let you know.

  • George

    Longtime lurker, I just registered on Disqus to comment here!

    My 2016 15″ MacBook Pro with 2.7GHz, 512 GB shows this in Activity Monitor (just Web browsing in Safari with multiple tabs, checking Mail, updating Fantastical 2 calendar, looking through the App Store & updating Fantastical 2 app):
    • Remaining charge: 60%
    • Time remaining: 9:47
    • Time on battery: 3:29

  • Welcome George! So how’s your average battery life so far?

  • George

    Hi Gary. Thanks for the welcome!

    Oh man, I just realized that Activity Monitor only shows the last 12 hours of battery use. So my last two battery sessions are gone:
    • Remaining charge: 49%
    • Time remaining: 5:56
    • Time on battery: 0:27
    I don’t see Preferences in Activity Monitor so I can include all my previous sessions. Is there any way to do this?

    My first two or three times using my 2016 15″ MacBook Pro back in November, I took the battery down to 10% each session and I got around 9.5 hours if I remember correctly. But I read that Spotlight indexing and other background activities affect your MacBook Pro when it’s brand new.

    After that and until now, I’ve been using it plugged in to minimize the Battery Cycle Count and because I was using Final Cut Pro quite a bit editing videos my girlfriend took at a friend’s wedding. (We just presented burned DVDs the other day to the families involved!) It was a lot of work in Final Cut Pro because my girlfriend shot most of her videos in … portrait mode! Ugh!!

    Battery life seems pretty good so far for me. Right now I’m seeing this in Activity Monitor:
    • Remaining charge: 46%
    • Time remaining: 7:03
    • Time on battery: 0:50

    I’ll have to time each day I use my MacBook Pro on battery, I guess. This is my third day on battery power so I’m pretty happy!

  • BigCat

    Hi Gary, hope this is some help/interest to you.

    My real life iTunes playback battery test gave me nearly 10 full hours. The playback was done over several sessions without recharging. I had the following conditions:

    – Late 2016 Macbook Pro 13″ with Touch Bar.
    – i5 processor 3.1 GHz, 16 GB Ram, 512 GB SSD.
    – Screen brightness set on manual at 50%.
    – WiFi radio was switched off.
    – All audio was streamed over bluetooth to headphones.
    – No Dropbox or Google cloud items, just iCloud stuff.
    – iTunes was the software used for movie playback.
    – Backlighting on keyboard switched off.

    I did play around with a couple of other programs, but 90% or more of the time was pure movie playback.

    Based on what others have said I was expecting less, but the battery life on this MacBook is the best I have every used. Super nice to work with too!

    Gary, if you are not getting at least 7.5 to 9.5 hours I would guess that the issue is either software or a defect in your battery. The current MacBook Pro design seems really good to me.

  • Thanks BigCat. I’ll see if I can replicate!