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Consumer Reports Warns Of Macbook Pro Battery Issue

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Apple begins investigation after important US consumer body fails to recommend Macbook Pro for first time over battery-life

Apple has said it will investigate after an influential US magazine failed to recommend the new MacBook Pro.

According to the Consumer Reports review, it did not (for the first time ever) recommend the Macbook after it found that big variations in battery life “from one trial to another.”

“As a result, these laptops are the first MacBooks not to receive recommended ratings from Consumer Reports,” it said.

apple-macbookpro-3Not Recommended

The new Apple Macbook Pro was introduced in October, and the 13 inch and 15 inch devices featured USB-C ports, an OLED Retina screen-equipped Touch Bar, Touch ID and hefty Brexit influenced price points.

The price rise did cause some controversy among UK buyers, as 13 inch MacBook Air jumped by £100 to £949 despite receiving no upgrades, while the new MacBook Pros started at £1,449 for the non-Touch Bar 13 inch models, while the version with the display bar begins at a wallet-emptying £1,749.

But it seems as though there is another problem with these machines, after Consumer Reports review said there are battery-life issues with the 13-inch MacBook without the new Touch Bar control strip, and the 13- and 15-inch models with the Touch Bar.

It said that all the models delivered “widely disparate figures” in testing.

“Complaints about MacBook Pro batteries have been popping up online since the laptops first went on sale in November,” it said. “Apple says that these computers should operate for up to 10 hours between charges, but some consumers in Apple’s support forums reported that they were only able to use their laptops for three to four hours before the battery ran down.”

“We tested three MacBook Pros: a 13-inch model with Apple’s new Touch Bar, which sits above the keyboard; a 13-inch model without the Touch Bar; and a 15-inch model. (All 15-inch MacBook Pros come with the Touch Bar.)” it said.

“The MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next,” it said. “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.”

“Battery life is an important attribute for a laptop, and it it represents a significant portion of our overall score,” it said. “After factoring together our complete test results, Consumer Reports finds that all three MacBook Pro laptops fail to meet our standards for recommended models.”

“This is a real departure from past MacBooks,” it said. “Most Apple laptops have scored well in our battery test, typically lasting much longer than the manufacturer has claimed.”

Apple Investigates

Apple declined to comment on the test results and instead told any concerned customers to contact AppleCare.

However, Apple executive Phil Schiller later confirmed via Twitter that the iPad maker is working with Consumer Reports to investigate the matter.

“Working with CR to understand their battery tests,” he tweeted. “Results do not match our extensive lab tests or field data.”

And this is not the firm time that Apple has been criticised by Consumer Reports. In 2012 it warned that the iPad 3 ran at higher temperatures than the iPad 2.

The review group also refused to endorse the iPhone 4 over its much-publicised antenna issues.

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