The latest comes from Consumer Reports, which refrained from recommending Apple’s newest laptop for the first time ever — and Apple is working with the organization to figure out what went wrong.
Consumer Reports was initially positive about the 2016 MacBook Pro’s display quality and performance. The machines fell down in battery performance, however, an area that has been a complaint of numerous buyers (apparently the result of the choice of a lesser design).
According to Consumer Reports’ testing, the most significant issue with battery life wasn't specifically how long the computers would run before shutting down but rather their inconsistent battery life. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, for example, ran for 16 hours, 12.75 hours, and 3.75 hours on subsequent tests. The 13-inch version without Touch Bar ran for 19.5 hours and 4.5 hours in different trial runs, and the 15-inch machine showed a range from 8 to 18.5 hours.
The organization notes that laptops usually vary by less than five percent between tests; Consumer Reports said it was able to replicate the MacBook Pro’s inconsistent results via repeated testing. The reviewers requested a response from Apple and at first received a typical canned statement: "Any customer who has a question about their Mac or its operation should contact AppleCare."
Apple Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller responded via Twitter a few days ago that Apple is taking things a little more seriously than that.
Consumer Reports cannot be faulted for its testing methodologies, which seem rigorous. The group upgraded its test machines to MacOS Sierra 10.12.2 and tested again to determine if Apple had resolved any battery issues in the latest update. The results were the same.
Apparently, similar concerns about the 2016 MacBook Air’s battery life are not without merit. While lower battery life could be expected given their smaller battery capacity versus previous MacBook Air models, the incredibly inconsistent results suggest a problem — one Apple is hopefully working to resolve.