Apple: For the first time in a decade, a new MacBook Pro fails to get a Consumer Reports seal of approval

Apple's new MacBook Pros fail to earn Consumer Reports' seal of approval due to inconsistent battery life.


For the first time in a decade, Apple’s laptops have failed to meet the quality and consistency standards as set by Consumer Reports.

As far as impartial, unbiased reviews are concerned, you’d be hard pressed to find an organisation more reliable than Consumer Reports. It’s a non-profit organisation that tests and rates products on various parameters including quality, performance and consistency.

Normally, all of Apple’s products get the coveted ‘recommended’ badge from Consumer Reports, but reportedly, the current MacBook Pro lineup just didn’t make the cut.

Why? Battery life.

 Apple: For the first time in a decade, a new MacBook Pro fails to get a Consumer Reports seal of approval

In its testing, Consumer Reports found that battery life varied between 4.5-19.6 hours. A result that makes no sense in a standardised testing environment. As Consumer Reports explains, a variation of 5 percent is understandable, not a variation of over 300 percent.

One might be justified in calling Consumer Reports’ testing methodology in question; but this is a company that specialises in testing, after all.

Consumer Reports purchases the products it tests commercially at retail prices, these are not sourced from the manufacturer. For the battery tests, the company uses an external tool to set the screen brightness to 100 Nits, updates the devices to the latest OS version (macOS Sierra 10.2.1 and 10.2.2 in this case) and runs a loop where the laptops download a series of 10 pages in sequence over Wi-Fi.

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To remove any inconsistencies, the websites are hosted on a local server and the download happens over a dedicated Wi-Fi network. The OS’ default browser is used, in this case it was Safari.

When the tests were run on Google Chrome, a notoriously battery hungry browser, Consumer Reports was surprised to find that battery life was consistently high. Given that the test was only run twice on all 3 devices (15-inch MacBook Pro, 13-inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar, 13-inch MacBook Pro without TouchBar), Consumer Reports doesn’t think the results are conclusive.

Apple’s Phil Schiller responded to the results with a tweet:

 

Bloomberg recently interviewed people at Apple, where it discovered that the Apple Mac Team was getting “far less attention than it once did”. Members of the team were reportedly complaining of there being “no clear direction” from senior management and that the departure of senior members had hampered the team.

In fact, speaking specifically of the battery life issues that plague the new MacBook Pros, Bloomberg discovered that the original plan was to use shaped batteries in the devices, as are used on the 12-inch MacBook. This would have resulted in larger capacity batteries.

The plan was shelved and standard batteries were used as Apple wanted to release the device in time for the holiday season; a compromise that is already hurting the company’s reputation.


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