Apple’s latest MacBook Pro machines have not had an easy introduction. The Touch Bar may offer a new UI paradigm but the decisions around USB-C ports, high pricing and issues over poor battery life have been hanging around Cupertino’s compact computers since their launch in late October. Consumer Report has taken a closer look at the laptops, and decided that it cannot recommend the MacBook Pro machines.
CONSUMER REPORT WAS NOT ABLE TO HAVE CONFIDENCE
Because of the wide range of battery life values generated by its tests, Consumer Report was not able to have confidence in taking an average battery life to determine if it should recommend the latest MacBook Pro machines. Instead it used the only number it could reliably offer the public as being consistently achievable – the shortest battery life experienced by each machine:
However, with the widely disparate figures we found in the MacBook Pro tests, an average wouldn’t reflect anything a consumer would be likely to experience in the real world. For that reason, we are reporting the lowest battery life results, and using those numbers in calculating our final scores. It’s the only time frame we can confidently advise a consumer to rely on if he or she is planning use the product without access to an electrical outlet.
BATTERY LIFE IS AN IMPORTANT ARRTIBUTE FOR A LAPTOP
Battery life is an important attribute for a laptop, and it represents a significant portion of our overall score. After factoring together our complete test results, Consumer Reports finds that all three MacBook Pro laptops fail to meet our standards for recommended models.
As a result of offering a few scant hours of life, Consumer Report is unable to recommend any of this year’s MacBook Pro machines.
Apple’s recent update to macOS inflamed opinions by removing the ‘time remaining’ indicator from the user interface, noting that the variable demands on the processors make it harder to predict personal usage. There have been reports that macOS 10.12.2 has increased battery endurance for many users (more details here on Forbes) although Apple has not confirmed any code changes to address power issues.
With this year’s MacBook Pro family proving to be one of the fastest selling laptops of the year the battery issues are unlikely to have a material impact on the market share of the macOS powered machines. What Consumer Report’s intervention will do is set consumer perceptions of Apple in 2016 as a company that has problems with its batteries. It carries far more weight than a thread in the Apple support forums or comments on Reddit.
APPLE ALSO HAS TO CONTEND WITH THE RISING REPORTS OF ISSUES IN THE IOS
Apple also has to contend with the rising reports of issues in the iOS over battery management. It has acknowledged there is an issue with a limited number of iPhone 6S devices but evidence is building that suggests the issue reaches across multiple generations of iOS hardware.
It’s unlikely that these issues stop people buying a MacBook Pro, the latest iPhone, or considering Apple’s products. After all the iPhone survived ‘you’re holding it wrong’ with the unwieldy antennae placement, the various bendgate issues, and the recent rise of touch disease affecting the screen. The ability to bounce back after consumer problems is not unique to Apple, look at the return of consumer confidence to Samsung after the Note 7’s firey issue as one example from a competitor.
What it does do is chip away at the idea of Apple being different, of Apple having a greater respect for the consumer experience and of Apple being a magical company that can always deliver on its promises. It casts Apple down from its ivory tower to stand with every other consumer electronics company, as it squeezes out profits, pushes the envelope with marketing, relies on roughly the same technology as its competitors. Apple’s battery issue will be fixed in the future but its current product line will be dulled. Tim Cook and his team will have little choice but to lean on the momentum gained from previous successes to keep the fan-base engaged and enthralled during 2017.