MacBook Pro gets no love from Consumer Reports

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By Doug Zanger | Americas Editor

December 27, 2016 | 3 min read

After some signifincant fanfare, Apple’s new MacBook Pro is considered an improvement for the oft-ignored line. Several outlets tout the lovely new upgrades — such as the massive trackpad, Touch ID, and the improved screen resolution — as potential game-changers. Though unique, the new Apple Touch Bar has received mixed reviews. Some love it, others consider it gimmicky. Additionally, the change of ports from the classic USB to Thunderbolt ports that require adapters has rankled plenty of people, especially the “pros” who liked the “pro” feel of past models. It’s par for the pros and cons course of a high-profile product for a high-profile company like Apple.

But one major publication, Consumer Reports, has, for the first time, decided against recommending the new MacBook Pro. Upon completion of evaluations on the new machines in their labs, the company heaped praise commensurate with the prevailing public feeling but dinged the machines for battery life performance, which accounts for a large portion of scoring. Battery life has been a bugaboo for the company since its November launch, with reports about low battery life popping up on forums fairly consistently.

Consumer Reports found results that varied wildly from one trial to the next. According to their tests, one 13-inch model with Touch Bar ran for 16, 12.75 and 3.75 hours in sequential tests. A 13-inch model without Touch Bar worked for 19.5 hours in the first trial and 4.5 in the second. And, finally, a 15-inch machine started at 18.5 hours and went down to 8 hours. The company noted that trials typically vary from one to another at a rate of about 5% and, in this case, they used the used the lowest number in the calculation of the scores. The change is puzzling for this product as, in previous years, a 13-inch Mac Book Pro’s battery lasted a long 19 hours.

For its part, Apple’s SVP of marketing, Phil Schiller, is taking the review seriously, and has indicated that it is working with Consumer Reports to better understand their tests and results.

Consumer Reports noted that if Apple does update their software to a version that can claim better battery performance, they will conduct new tests to better accurately gauge performance — and will report back with any updates.

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