Consumer Reports, one of the most reputable publications that performs rigorous laptop tests, has deprived the new MacBook Pro models of its vaunted recommendation, stating that problems with the new models' battery life, despite its display quality and performance, greatly hurt the laptop's chances.
This marks the first time for Consumer Reports not to hand out a "recommended" rating to current-gen MacBook Pro models. The test included all three MacBook Pro models released in 2016, the base 13-inch model, and the 13- and 15-inch models with the new Touch Bar.
The New MacBook Pro's Battery Life Woes
Several owners of new MacBook Pro models have recently turned online to complain about the laptop's abysmal battery life, with users clocking in two to three hours of juice, a stark letdown from Apple's 10-hour battery life claim.
Consumer Reports' tests support the theme of the complaints.
"The MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next," says Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports administered three consecutive performance tests for the laptops and found out that all the models, going from one trial to the next, had significant battery life reduction. For instance, the 13-inch Touch Bar model clocked 16 hours on the first try, 12.75 hours in the second, and a meager 3.75 hours in the third.
The base 13-inch model and the 15-inch Touch Bar model performed similarly. The 13-inch model clocked 19.5 hours in one trial and then descended to 4.5 hours in the next test. The 15-inch model's battery life ranged from 18.5 hours down to 8 hours.
"Those were just a few of the results; we tested battery life on these laptops repeatedly," says Consumer Reports.
MacOS Sierra 10.12.2 Update Doesn't Fix The Problems
Apple quietly rolled out a new macOS Sierra update carrying the firmware number 10.12.2, which reportedly fixed battery life woes described on Apple's forums, but according to Consumer Reports' tests, the software update didn't help.
"We saw no difference in the results."
Additionally, the update also removed the battery remaining indicator from the system. The reasoning behind this, Apple told Business Insider, is that its software's battery life estimations had become less accurate.
Testing On Chrome
The first batch of tests by Consumer Reports that rendered the abysmal battery life results involved, among other things, web browsing on Safari, Apple's proprietary web browser, but using Chrome on the laptops spelled different results.
Post-official testing, Consumer Reports conducted the same experiment once more, but it had used Chrome as the web browser for the round. The two trials gave consistent battery life performance from all models, and the waning nature of the models' battery life hadn't occurred. However, the second experiment wasn't enough data to form a conclusion, and it wouldn't have affected Consumer Reports' rating since it only takes using the default browser into account for its laptop tests.
Still, it might prove as a stopgap countermeasure for MacBook Pro owners whose battery life problems persist.
The new MacBook Pro models were unveiled late October.