Apple's MacBook Pro Battery Problems Are Getting Embarrassing

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Apple’s long-awaited refresh of its MacBook Pro line is disappointing for many reasons, but it looks like we have something else to add to the list: awfully unpredictable battery life. The problem is significant enough that it might just topple Apple’s machine from its throne.

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Consumer Reports decided to pass on recommending Apple’s new line of laptops because the battery performance varied wildly during its tests. Apple fans were hoping that this refresh would fix some of the battery problems that plagued the previous line of MacBook Pros, but the results have been disappointing. From Consumer Reports:

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.

Those were just a few of the results; we tested battery life on these laptops repeatedly.

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Jerry Beilinson, the Consumer Reports editor who wrote the report said that laptop’s battery life typically varies by about five percent in tests. Obviously, the above MacBook Pro results are slightly more dramatic than five percent. It seems like Apple is making attempts to fix the battery problem via software updates, but the only thing we’ve really noticed so far is that Apple removed the indicator that shows how much time is left before the battery dies.

Ars Technica has some great details on what may be causing some of the latest MacBook’s battery woes. One thing that sticks out to me is that the 15 inch MacBooks come with a dedicated GPU, instead of offering integrated graphics in years past. Sure, the graphics performance is undoubtedly better and takes a little heat off the processor when you’re using an external monitor, but it can do some damage on the battery. As Ars notes, the new MacBooks will dynamically switch between using the dedicated GPU and integrated graphics, but there’s no way to completely disable the onboard GPU.

So for the first time in awhile, it seems like Apple’s MacBook Pros might not be the best laptop on the market. Embarrassing for Apple. Might we suggest the Dell XPS 13 instead?

[Consumer Reports]

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Staff Writer, Gizmodo | Send me tips: william.turton@gizmodo.com

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DISCUSSION

maeron
AeronPeryton

The complaints are what is getting embarrassing.

First, certain people were complaining that the new MacBooks were underpowered, not beefy enough, ‘I need to see a higher RAM number or else I literally won’t be able to use it!’. Now, their complaints are that it’s running at too high a performance level. Highly entertaining stuff.

There’s definitely a lot going on with these machines. It took a longer time than normal to update them, and because of the changing landscape of traditional desktops Apple is opting to gear new Macs for efficiency ...to an extreme. And doing so before a lot of commonly used software is updated to know how to efficiently operate on such a level. It’s as much Apple’s fault for being that aggressive as it is the fault of programmers for coding apps on macOS to act like they have all the power all the time as it is the fault of some users for expecting the Moon while evidently having very power hungry usage practices. And this Mac more than any other shines a spotlight on all three of those things.

Apple has already addressed how the Macs behave on battery and it has been reported to make a world of difference for a lot of people. And they will probably continue to tweak things with each point update (as they traditionally do). There are still some out there saying nothing has changed though. But when some people have always had good battery life on this new Mac, and now more people have good battery life, it’s hard not to assume that those remaining outliers are doing something unusual.

No new Apple computer has been released unscathed by bad reviews. But unless there’s a serious defect (the very first Intel MacBook Pros) or the whole computer just turned out to be a bad idea (the G4 Cube), they always end up being very well-built, very long-lasting, and very loved machines by far, far more people than not.

Wake me when Apple has an actual battery crisis like the Microsoft Surface Books or Samsung Notes phones products.