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Battery life on Apple’s new MacBook Pro is riddled with problems, Consumer Reports finds

In a somewhat surprising development, Apple’s new MacBook Pro did not receive a ‘buy’ recommendation from Consumer Reports due to inconsistent battery performance during testing. This marks the first time a new MacBook model hasn’t received a recommendation from the famed testing organization.

While testing all three variants of Apple’s new MacBook Pro, Consumer Reports was surprised to see battery life on each machine vary drastically with no particular rhyme or reason.

The MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next.

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.

All the more bizarre is that Consumer Reports’ battery testing is far from machine-intensive. On the contrary, it involves consistently running a notebook’s web browser through a sequence of web pages.

Consumer Reports relays that the normal variance in battery life it sees on a new notebook typically falls somewhere in the 5% range. And as a direct consequence of receiving CR’s lowest possible score for battery life, Apple’s new flagship notebook lineup failed to receive a ‘buy’ recommendation.

Despite mostly positive reviews, the MacBook Pro’s inconsistent performance with respect to battery life has been an issue we’ve seen sprout up quite frequently on Reddit forums and on Apple’s own support forums over the past few weeks. There, some owners have detailed how simply opening up a single app can sometimes lower battery life by well over 50%. Meanwhile, other users have complained that they can’t even get a full 6 hours of usage on a machine that boasts that it supports up to 10 hours.

Regardless of the cause, this certainly isn’t a good look for Apple. Hopefully the problem is something that can ultimately be addressed via a software update.

UPDATE: Apple’s Phil Schiller has tweeted a note stating that Consumer Reports’ findings do not align with Apple’s own test results.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.