Apple working with Consumer Reports on MacBook Pro battery findings, says Phil Schiller

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2016
After Consumer Reports refused to assign a recommend rating to any of Apple's three new MacBook Pro models, a first for the laptop line, Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said the company is working with the publication to resolve the apparent battery issue.




In a surprise pre-Christmas report published Thursday, Consumer Reports said it could not recommend any new MacBook Pro model due to battery life concerns. Specifically, the publication's in-house testing revealed wild fluctuations in unplugged operating survivability, in some cases ranging from 16 hours to as little as 3.75 hours.

Consumer Reports assigned the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar a mediocre score of 56 points out of 100. The 13-inch versions with and without Touch Bar received similarly poor ratings of 40 and 47, respectively. With such a dismal showing, no MacBook achieved a "recommended" designation, a first for Apple.

Responding to the critique, Schiller in a tweet on Friday said Apple is "[w]orking with [Consumer Reports] to understand their battery tests," noting the publication's results are not in line with Apple's own "extensive lab tests or field data."

Working with CR to understand their battery tests. Results do not match our extensive lab tests or field data. https://t.co/IWtfsmBwpO

-- Philip Schiller (@pschiller)


Whereas Apple spends substantial capital on special machinery, facilities and man hours to perform rigorous quality assurance testing, Consumer Reports applied an arguably less scientific methodology in its trials. As noted in the original review, the publication ran a series of tests that involved downloading ten pre-selected web pages over Wi-Fi using Safari. Screen brightness settings were consistent, and the trial runs proceeded until the laptop shut down.

That said, the low-end results cannot be ignored.

In its evaluation, Consumer Reports found 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar battery life varied from 18.5 hours to 8 hours, while the 13-inch variant with Touch Bar ran for between 16 hours and 3.75 hours. The 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar managed 19.5 hours at its best, but conked out in only 4.5 hours in a subsequent test. Final ratings were calculated using the lowest battery life results.

Apple initially declined to comment on the publication's findings, saying only that customers can contact AppleCare if they have questions or concerns about MacBook performance. The publication did leave the door open for an Apple response, noting the battery life of many modern products are "influenced" by software updates.

"If Apple updates its software in a way that the company claims will substantively change battery performance, we will conduct fresh tests," the original report said.

Apparently Consumer Reports got its wish.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 147
    Damage control!
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 2 of 147
    Marco @ CSUSMarco @ CSUS Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    Wow
    edited December 2016
  • Reply 3 of 147
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,139member
    Do they just buy a single MBP for their testing?
  • Reply 4 of 147
    FatmanFatman Posts: 114member
    Don't know the specific situation here - but in general Apple is stuck with Intel and AMDs lousy power hungry chips. We're still 2 years away from the die shrinks necessary ... or move Macs to ARM? A11 up to the task?
    calijay-t
  • Reply 5 of 147
    Damage control!
    Damage control? Did you actually read their report? They got wildly different battery results and on the high end much higher than anyone else has gotten. How could they publish a report with such variation?
    jahbladecalijay-tandrewj5790thinkman@chartermi.netration aljas99jbdragonMacPro
  • Reply 6 of 147
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,150member
    Soli said:
    Do they just buy a single MBP for their testing?
    They bought two machines: a 13-inch and a 15-inch model. Ideally they should have bought two of each, but I'm not sure it would have made a difference in this case. 
    edited December 2016 Soli
  • Reply 7 of 147
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 314member
    "...the publication's results are not in line with Apple's own "extensive lab tests or field data..."

    I'm not sure what field tests Apple has done, but there are tons or reports/complaints of poor battery life. it's pretty clear that there is an issue with the machines, whether it's software or hardware based is still up for debate. Either way I'm sticking with my Mid-2011 MacBook air. I still get 3 hours of battery life on it, which is just as good as half the people are getting with their brand new 
    MacBook Pros. I really can't disagree with Consumer Reports - I wouldn't advise buying one of these either.
    edited December 2016 holyone
  • Reply 8 of 147
    MplsP said:
    "...the publication's results are not in line with Apple's own "extensive lab tests or field data..."

    I'm not sure what field tests Apple has done, but there are tons or reports/complaints of poor battery life. it's pretty clear that there is an issue with the machines, whether it's software or hardware based is still up for debate. Either way I'm sticking with my Mid-2011 MacBook air. I still get 3 hours of battery life on it, which is just as good as half the people are getting with their brand new MacBook Pros. I really can't disagree with Consumer Reports - I wouldn't advise buying one of these either.
    What field tests Apple has done are mentioned in the footnote #2 in Tech Specs section of Apple's product pages.

    Also, if you can still do well with your Mid-2011 Macbook Air, the new Macbook Pros are not for you. The substitute of Macbook Air is the Retina Macbook, not Macbook Pro. Your comments are welcome, however...
    edited December 2016 Rayz2016redgeminipaStrangeDaysjas99
  • Reply 9 of 147
    MplsP said:
    "...the publication's results are not in line with Apple's own "extensive lab tests or field data..."

    I'm not sure what field tests Apple has done, but there are tons or reports/complaints of poor battery life. it's pretty clear that there is an issue with the machines, whether it's software or hardware based is still up for debate. Either way I'm sticking with my Mid-2011 MacBook air. I still get 3 hours of battery life on it, which is just as good as half the people are getting with their brand new MacBook Pros. I really can't disagree with Consumer Reports - I wouldn't advise buying one of these either.
    How many of the "tons of complaints" went away after the indexing and iCloud upload finished?
    Rayz2016satanslavegodredgeminipacalizroger73andrewj5790felix01ration aljas99palomine
  • Reply 10 of 147
    I miss Steve. 

    Tim's too busy doing exclusive ABC interviews to repeat the same boring 'we're great' corporate lines. 

    Poor Phil has to do work during holiday week. 

    Maybe more attention to detail before release?? Ya'know... what Apple is actually famous for. 

    Working with CR??? How the mighty have taken a bruising! Not to mention looking to hire battery experts. One would think Apple had that under control with over two decades of laptop experience. 

    ajlRayz2016avon b7pscooter63hungoverboopthesnootcalilkrupptechprod1gyroundaboutnow
  • Reply 11 of 147
    Damage control!
    Damage control? Did you actually read their report? They got wildly different battery results and on the high end much higher than anyone else has gotten. How could they publish a report with such variation?
    Yes, I did. The fact that Phil is reacting so quickly to just about every slam against the new MBP's means there is really something wrong with the batteries and no one is believing Apple's explanation of removing a certain battery display feature will magically fix the problem.
    calilkruppbrucemc
  • Reply 12 of 147
    metrixmetrix Posts: 190member
    My guess is they ran one test using Safari and the others using Chrome. Chrome seems act like an application with a memory leak. Just my 2 cents.
    It really makes no sense since Apple has dominated battery life in laptops for years and I mean years. 
    calijas99watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 147

    When I first read the report, I have decided not to buy one of these new macs. I trust CR's reports. I remember their report on bending iPhone 6 Plus. After that report all the phone manufacturers made their phones even more stronger.


    I have been using MacbookPro with DVD drive for 3 years now and it's battery works still better than the new macs according to this report of course. I was really amazed with 12" Macbook but it wasn't fast enough for me, even the newer version of it is not what I am looking for. I was really excited when I learned that Apple was going to release new macs. Touchbar, new design as 12" Macbook has and new usb standard ports. I was expecting new contour design batteries in this new machines but it didn't happen.


    What disappoints me is not only battery life, I am happy to re-charge my macbook or use it connected to a power source until finish my work. It is disappointing to see Apple releases devices which are not fully tested and not ready to release.


    But I don't understand this new pricing policy. I think 12" Macbook should be same price as Macbook Air and new Macbook Pro 13" with touchbar should be same price as previous Macbook Pro 13" with retina display.


    I think I will wait for the next generations of new Macbook Pros until Apple and CR work together and come to an agreement.

    calilkruppicoco3roundaboutnowbrucemcben20MacPro
  • Reply 14 of 147
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,139member
    mathteacher said:
    I have been using MacbookPro with DVD drive for 3 years now and it's battery works still better than the new macs according to this report of course.
     I don't know how that's possible. Apple's own testing for the last MBPs with an ODD gave it a 7-hours of life, and this testing ranged from 18.5 hours to 8 hours for the 15" and 16 hours and 3.75 hours for the 13". Unless you're testing your MBP against their same tests with your battery being at x% health for however many cycles it's used, it would be impossible to know, and improbable that it would last longer than these Macs rated by Apple at 10 hours.

    On top of that, Apple's own stats for measuring the average longevity of the battery has become more stringent since the ODD Macs were on the market, which means that even back in 2006 to 2012 the battery life statements would be rated worse by today's standards. You can even check a service like MacTracker to see one of the major changes in Mac battery life estimates when the mid-2010 13" MBP was rated at 10 hours and then in Early-2011 it dropped to only 7 hours; both with a 63.5-watt-hour battery and using the same chemistry that allows for 1000 cycles before reaching 80% of its original capacity.
    jas99brucemcchia
  • Reply 15 of 147
    Damage control!
    Damage control? Did you actually read their report? They got wildly different battery results and on the high end much higher than anyone else has gotten. How could they publish a report with such variation?
    How? Page hits. That's what it is all about these days.

    From my years in software development and testing, I'd never have publisted (even internally) a report with such variations. I'd go back and look at why there were such variations.
    Repeatbility is the name of the game. Then others can duplicate your results to validate them. This makes no claims as to the validity of the tests but just that here is a test method that done 'N' (where N is > 5) times gives these results.
    That said, all that takes time and money and effort and discipline. All of those are in short supply these days.

    One nasty and convoluted software bug inside an Operating System Device Driver once took me close on 3 months to fix. The first 2.5 months were spent trying to replicate the problem in a reliable, repeatable and measurable way.  Once that was done it was easy to apply various solutions to solve the problem until we got one that was rock solid. Only then did we commit the patch into the mainstream kernel.
    In latter years (pre 2001) we could not spend even 20% of that time fixing bugs. We had to apply a patch and let the users test it for us. Nothing has changed since. Probably got worse.
    Rayz2016GeorgeBMaccaliandrewj5790ration alStrangeDaysjas99brucemcpalomine
  • Reply 16 of 147
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,150member

    MplsP said:
    "...the publication's results are not in line with Apple's own "extensive lab tests or field data..."

    I'm not sure what field tests Apple has done, but there are tons or reports/complaints of poor battery life. it's pretty clear that there is an issue with the machines, whether it's software or hardware based is still up for debate. Either way I'm sticking with my Mid-2011 MacBook air. I still get 3 hours of battery life on it, which is just as good as half the people are getting with their brand new MacBook Pros. I really can't disagree with Consumer Reports - I wouldn't advise buying one of these either.

    Tons of reports/complaints on the internet means nothing, simply because the number of people who DON'T have a problem with battery life are not actually going to make such a big deal about it. You could read a thousand or so complaints, take off a few to account for people just racing around and posting the same complaint everywhere, take off even more for the people who don't actually own the laptop but want to complain because they don't like Apple, and then you still might have a very tiny percentage of people with the problem. The only figure that matters is the number of people who complain to Apple and/or return the machine.

    redgeminipacaliandrewj5790ration aljas99brucemcchiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 147
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,150member

    metrix said:
    My guess is they ran one test using Safari and the others using Chrome. Chrome seems act like an application with a memory leak. Just my 2 cents.
    It really makes no sense since Apple has dominated battery life in laptops for years and I mean years. 
    The tests they reported on were all run on Safari. They actually got more consistent results with Chrome.
    bigpics
  • Reply 18 of 147
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,150member

    Damage control!
    Damage control? Did you actually read their report? They got wildly different battery results and on the high end much higher than anyone else has gotten. How could they publish a report with such variation?
    Absolutely. I have never seen an Apple laptop score that high, which immediately should have rung alarm bells before they ran the other tests.

    They run the tests over and over until the battery runs down. But what they have not said is what was going on between the tests. 

    Did they charge the laptop and run the tests again when the laptop was fully charged?
    Did they charge the laptop, and reboot it before running the tests?

    Did anyone monitor Safari's memory consumption during the tests? I imagine that the logs will show what was happening so Apple should be able to reconstruct the tests without too much of a problem.

    pulseimagesration aljas99brucemcwatto_cobraMacPro
  • Reply 19 of 147
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,139member
    Rayz2016 said:

    metrix said:
    My guess is they ran one test using Safari and the others using Chrome. Chrome seems act like an application with a memory leak. Just my 2 cents.
    It really makes no sense since Apple has dominated battery life in laptops for years and I mean years. 
    The tests they reported on were all run on Safari. They actually got more consistent results with Chrome.
    That info screams a SW bug, not an issue with the new MBP HW.
    GeorgeBMacanantksundaramration aljas99brucemcchia
  • Reply 20 of 147
    Here's two cents from someone who owned at 15" 2016 MBP for a shy two weeks and returned it.

    I both agree that the CR test was probably not done with due diligence and these MBPs actually have a battery/software problem. I have posted my experience early on and was questioned about my setup when I complained about getting 3-5 hours max when only working in Mail and Safari.

    I don't know if gfxCardStatus displays proper findings on these new machines, but my machine was constantly switching between integrated and discrete - even when just browsing the web. Why? No idea. Now I'm thinking animated adds, maybe? Adds change all the time on websites. Maybe Apple used controlled websites for testing, while CR used real-world websites? Honestly, I have no idea...

    The point is, that I'm glad about my decision not to be a guinea pig. My advice is to wait until Apple has figured out what's wrong with these machines.

    While this CR sucks for Apple, maybe some good will come of it: Apple will try harder once again.
    redgeminipamacpluspluspulseimagesinplainviewgatorguy
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