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M3 MacBook Pro 14-inch real-life test shows ‘epic’ battery life

Published Nov 6th, 2023 8:38PM EST
M3 Max MacBook Pro 14-Inch
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Even before Apple unveiled the M3 MacBook Pro models, I was curious about the battery life gains the new chips would have to offer. I was already expecting a big performance gain. It turned out that I had anticipated correctly. Apple would keep in place the 18-hour and 22-hour battery life estimates for the M3 Pro/Max 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

But the M3 MacBook Pro 14-inch laptop, which replaces the discontinued 13-inch model, has a 22-hour battery life estimate of its own. That puts it ahead of the M2 MacBook Air models, which get 18-hour battery life quotes from Apple. As a reminder, the M3 MacBook Air laptops won’t be out for several months.

I’ll also note that the Air and Pro battery life estimates above are for watching movies continuously. And they’re Apple’s best-case battery life scenario for the laptops.

That is all theory. But now we have real-life tests that show how well the base $1,599 M3 MacBook Pro 14-inch does in the wild when it comes to battery performance.

We’ve already reviewed the M3 Max MacBook Pro 14-inch and found the battery life to be formidable. The laptop lasts well over a day, depending on what you put it through. Our conclusion is that you don’t have to worry about battery life from the new M3 MacBook Pros:

The best thing about recent MacBook releases is by far the battery life. The battery life on the M3 Max MacBook Pro is still excellent, and it’ll easily get you through a full day of even heavier use. I have found that the battery can take a bit of a dive if you perform really graphically intense tasks, like rendering video files, but for most tasks, you’ll find that you won’t really have to worry much about the battery life.

That’s already incredible. It potentially teases great battery life for the M3 MacBook Air, though I might not wait that long to pull the trigger.

The cheapest M3 MacBook Pro might be the best choice, given what you also get for that $1,599 entry price. As a reminder, this 14-inch laptop comes with the same display as the more expensive models. And you get a lot more ports than the Air.

Battery life estimates for the M3 MacBook Pro, M3 Pro/Max MacBook Pro 14-inch and M3 Pro/Max MacBook Pro 16-inch.
Battery life estimates for the M3 MacBook Pro, M3 Pro/Max MacBook Pro 14-inch and M3 Pro/Max MacBook Pro 16-inch. Image source: Apple Inc.

While I’m not worried about battery life, I know from experience that theoretical battery life is one thing, and real-life usage is another. Also, the battery degrades, so it won’t hold the same charge within three or four years. That’s why I’d like to know exactly where I’d start with a brand new M3 MacBook Pro 14-inch model.

M3 MacBook Pro 14-inch battery life test.
M3 MacBook Pro 14-inch battery life test. Image source: Tom’s Guide

Luckily for me, I know the folks at Tom’s Guide perform the same battery life test on any laptop, regardless of operating system:

On the Tom’s Guide battery test, which involves surfing the web at 150 nits of screen brightness, the MacBook Pro M3 lasted an epic 17 hours and 25 minutes.

As you can see in the screenshot above, that’s 3 hours longer than the M2 Pro MacBook Pro 14-inch. The 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro is still a better choice, lasting one hour extra.

Anything requiring more power will drain the battery faster, of course. A 2-hour session of Hitman on Steam drains 20% of the battery life, the blog said.

Tom’s Guide also put the M3 Max MacBook Pro 16-inch through the same test. The laptop lasted for 17 hours and 11 minutes, or almost as much as the M3 14-inch version.

M3 Max MacBook Pro 16-inch battery life test.
M3 Max MacBook Pro 16-inch battery life test. Image source: Tom’s Guide

Interestingly, this test also shows that the M2 Max MacBook Pro 16-inch rocks much better battery life. At 18 hours and 56 minutes, that’s 1 hour and 45 minutes longer than the M3 Max variant.

As for the real-life scores of these two M3 MacBook Pro flavors, they’re both higher than Apple’s 15-hour estimate for wireless web browsing. And that’s just amazing in my book.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.