Mossberg: New MacBook Pro has best battery life "ever tested"

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Although they're not without their drawbacks, the new MacBook Pros have been celebrated by one veteran columnist as having the best stock battery life of any notebook seen so far -- and has debunked some myths about battery use in the process.



Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal wrote on Thursday that the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro updates in June have achieved record results in his own, "harsh" battery tests that involve maximum display brightness, continuous music and no energy saving settings.



The 13-inch model, which has the smallest battery of the two, still managed to last almost 5 hours under high strain. Similar conditions put against the 15-inch led it to run for 5 hours and 21 minutes. Either result by itself would be the best "ever tested" that doesn't bend the rules to get to that figure, Mossberg says, such as by using an extended capacity battery that bulges outside of normal dimensions.



He predicts that, under less strenuous conditions, the new MacBook Pro could last even longer and would likely approach Apple's official target of 7 hours, which was reached by browsing the web using Wi-Fi.



All the gain comes from using a sealed-in battery. By removing the need for a special battery bay, a latch and other mechanisms needed to remove the battery without disassembly, Apple could expand the size of the battery itself. Mossberg acknowledges that the move is controversial and not without its problems: it forces customers to visit a service location to replace a dead battery, and it prevents long-haul travelers from running the notebook without AC power.



But the newspaper writer simultaneously points out that some of the assumptions about battery use are false. The NPD Group, for example, observed that only 5 percent of notebook owners ever buy a second battery; it's unknown how many of these have needed theirs. Consequently, most notebook owners are only concerned about the runtime of the battery that comes with the system -- which, in Apple's case, is far longer than for competitors.



As such, the new MacBook Pros should provide a "very good experience" for typical buyers, Mossberg explains.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    merdheadmerdhead Posts: 587member
    Maybe it's a good idea, but you can't help thinking one day it will bite you when you really need it. It's borderline form over function. I'm not sure what you lose is offset by what you gain, ie, slightly more battery and a cleaner machine bottom.



    And Michael Jackson is dead.
  • Reply 2 of 57
    Dell just came out with a new laptop, Studio 14 z which looks, at least on paper, to be a pretty good value: http://www.dell.com/content/products...699,3118263771



    okay, fire away!
  • Reply 3 of 57
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,960member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by merdhead View Post


    Maybe it's a good idea, but you can't help thinking one day it will bite you when you really need it. It's borderline form over function. I'm not sure what you lose is offset by what you gain, ie, slightly more battery and a cleaner machine bottom.



    No it's not. It's definitely form follows function.



    This is why Apple's products do tend to have better battery life. iPods have excellent battery life when compared to other players. Even iPhones do pretty well.



    Having a built-in long life battery will be of use to more people than having a short life replaceable one will.



    Quote:

    And Michael Jackson is dead.



    Yeah, I heard.
  • Reply 4 of 57
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    But the newspaper writer simultaneously points out that some of the assumptions about battery use are false. The NPD Group, for example, observed that only 5 percent of notebook owners ever buy a second battery;



    Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...



    the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:



    That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.



    also, load testing by...MUSIC PLAYBACK?????what the hell? who spends $2500 on a MBP to play itunes? try motion, photoshop, hell, I would even be happy with some simple trans coding in handbreak or FFMPEG
  • Reply 5 of 57
    dagamer34dagamer34 Posts: 494member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...



    the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:



    That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.



    If having power on a flight is important enough to you, you'll either a) get on a flight that has AC jacks or b) upgrade to business class to access those AC jacks.



    But for most people, the estimated 6-7 hours of battery life is MORE than enough to last a long haul trip.



    Though I do hope Apple finds a solution for that other 5%. Perhaps something like an extra battery pack that can be hooked up via MagSafe + USB (USB to control the battery, most people wouldn't want their Mac using one battery to charge another, as that has some efficiency loss).



    We'll see what they come up with to address that crowd.
  • Reply 6 of 57
    8corewhore8corewhore Posts: 833member
    Well, I guess it isn't official until Walt says so...
  • Reply 7 of 57
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post


    If having power on a flight is important enough to you, you'll either a) get on a flight that has AC jacks or b) upgrade to business class to access those AC jacks.



    But for most people, the estimated 6-7 hours of battery life is MORE than enough to last a long haul trip.



    Though I do hope Apple finds a solution for that other 5%. Perhaps something like an extra battery pack that can be hooked up via MagSafe + USB (USB to control the battery, most people wouldn't want their Mac using one battery to charge another, as that has some efficiency loss).



    We'll see what they come up with to address that crowd.



    Dell kinda got this right, they sell auxiliary "wedges" that add 4-6 cells under the entire bottom surface of the laptop that just clips on and makes the laptop go for like 4 more hours. Really elegant. It makes the computer a fraciton of an inch thicker, but it is swappable without shutting down like the main battery...so double win
  • Reply 8 of 57
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,797member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    it forces customers to visit a service location to replace a dead battery



    No it doesn't. The battery isn't soldered on. It is trivial for a user to replace it themselves.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    and it prevents long-haul travelers from running the notebook without AC power.



    No it doesn't. There are plenty of external battery packs on the market.



    Look, I know these are mistakes that Mossberg made, but it annoys me that you (AI) have simply mindlessly parroted them rather than point out that he's wrong.
  • Reply 9 of 57
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,181member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    No it doesn't. The battery isn't soldered on. It is trivial for a user to replace it themselves.









    No it doesn't. There are plenty of external battery packs on the market.



    Look, I know these are mistakes that Mossberg made, but it annoys me that you (AI) have simply mindlessly parroted them rather than point out that he's wrong.



    Informative post. Thanks!
  • Reply 10 of 57
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,960member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...



    the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:



    That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.



    also, load testing by...MUSIC PLAYBACK?????what the hell? who spends $2500 on a MBP to play itunes? try motion, photoshop, hell, I would even be happy with some simple trans coding in handbreak or FFMPEG



    Mostly, when on location we would have generators for powering lights, computers and other equipment. At the very least, we would use inverters to power computers off the van battery.



    Otherwise, you just don't need the computer to be on for five hours at a stretch. That's not realistic.
  • Reply 11 of 57
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by merdhead View Post


    Maybe it's a good idea, but you can't help thinking one day it will bite you when you really need it. It's borderline form over function. I'm not sure what you lose is offset by what you gain, ie, slightly more battery and a cleaner machine bottom.



    You get a lot more battery for the same weight. The new machines are quite impressive, and as the article stated only a small percentage buy extra batteries and even that number will likely be considerably lower with a battery that lasts as long as the new MBPs do.



    If you need an external solution there are options that simply plug into the MagSafe plug.
  • Reply 13 of 57
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,960member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post


    Well, I guess it isn't official until Walt says so...



    Not exactly:



    http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=3580



    And:



    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/20...acbook-pro.ars



    That's from two large tech sites, there are more.
  • Reply 14 of 57
    paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,380member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...



    the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:



    That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.



    also, load testing by...MUSIC PLAYBACK?????what the hell? who spends $2500 on a MBP to play itunes? try motion, photoshop, hell, I would even be happy with some simple trans coding in handbreak or FFMPEG





    In all honesty, I travel a great deal, typcially 2 long haul returns per month, and due to the economy I'm in cattle class on most flights, and having battery life of 5 hours is fine. I don't know many people who spend more than half of a flight working away.



    As well as that, an increasing number of carriers are adding power sources even in economy class.



    That said, it would be good if a solution was found - it couldn't be that hard for Apple to licence Mag Safe and allow someone to develop an external battery that plugs into there. Not ideal from a portability point of view, but it would probably resovle the vast majority of problems.
  • Reply 15 of 57
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,797member
    Here are tear-downs for the 17" and 13" unibody MacBook Pros showing the battery is not soldered on. I haven't seen a 15" tear-down but there's no reason to believe it's not a similar deal.



    http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/First-Lo...-Unibody/618/1



    http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBo...-Unibody/814/1



    For an end-user to replace the battery themselves will of course require a replacement battery, but third-parties will fill that void before any of these built-in batteries die (outside of premature deaths that will be covered by Apple's warranty anyway).
  • Reply 16 of 57
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,797member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post


    That said, it would be good if a solution was found - it couldn't be that hard for Apple to licence Mag Safe and allow someone to develop an external battery that plugs into there. Not ideal from a portability point of view, but it would probably resovle the vast majority of problems.



    'Tis already done! See my earlier post.



    Also, with a range of external pack sizes, I don't see how this is any less "portable" than carrying around a replacement internal battery, had the internal battery been in a traditional easily-accessible compartment. Yes, there's the cable connection, but that's hardly going to weigh anyone down. The external battery has the added benefit that you don't have to shut down the computer to replace the battery - you just plug in and keep on working.
  • Reply 17 of 57
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post


    That said, it would be good if a solution was found - it couldn't be that hard for Apple to licence Mag Safe and allow someone to develop an external battery that plugs into there. Not ideal from a portability point of view, but it would probably resovle the vast majority of problems.



    Mr. H supplied some products in post #13. As for being ideal, I find that not having to suspend my machine, flip it over, grab a coin to remove the battery or remove the hatch panel to replace the battery while sitting in an airline seat much more cumbersome than simply plugging in the extra battery while still actively using the machine a much better option.
  • Reply 18 of 57
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,960member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Mr. H supplied some products in post #13. As for being ideal, I find that not having to suspend my machine, flip it over, grab a coin to remove the battery or remove the hatch panel to replace the battery while sitting in an airline seat much more cumbersome than simply plugging in the extra battery while still actively using the machine a much better option.



    That would be poor planning on your part. I would hop that you would charge your battery fully before the flight. I see people in airports all the time with plugger in computers.



    Do you REALLY have to run the machine the entire flight? Other than poking around in work programs which rarely need much power, few people need the computer to use the highest battery draining functions like watching two movies one after the other.
  • Reply 19 of 57
    slapppyslapppy Posts: 331member
    I've always wondered about other users. I stop buying extra batteries since the Titanium days. Those days I had 1 extra batteries that I always lugged with me. I've had the Aluminum 2 upgrades and now the MBP 2.5, I haven't had the need to carry an extra battery. This thing last right through meetings and extended flights.
  • Reply 20 of 57
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...



    the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:



    Since you didn't want to do the search, here's what 2 minutes and Google can do for you,



    http://www.batterygeek.net/Batteryge...Packs-s/78.htm

    http://www.tuaw.com/2009/05/04/exter...r-mac-laptops/

    http://www.quickertek.com/products/m...ro_charger.php
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