That’s the word from Consumer Reports which, just a few weeks ago, issued a scathing report on Apple’s new MacBook Pro thanks to really poor battery life. The last time CR ripped Apple was for Antennagate way back to the iPhone 4 which had the same problem with antennas that all smartphones back then had.
This time Apple took heat from so-called professional customers who hated the RAM and storage limitations of the new MacBook Pro, and Consumer Reports hated it because the battery life was terrible. Just how terrible was the MBP’s battery life?
The MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next.
For instance, in a series of three consecutive tests, the 13-inch model with the Touch Bar ran for 16 hours in the first trial, 12.75 hours in the second, and just 3.75 hours in the third. The 13-inch model without the Touch Bar worked for 19.5 hours in one trial but only 4.5 hours in the next. And the numbers for the 15-inch laptop ranged from 18.5 down to 8 hours.
OK, something was wrong. Very wrong. No new model should have that kind of wild variation in a single test performed multiple times. So, did Consumer Reports do the right thing and call Apple and say,
Hey, guys. We’re CR. We ran some battery life tests on the new MacBook Pro models and the results are crazy. Help us out.
That would have been the correct and professional thing to do, of course. Something was amiss. Find out what. Fix it. Test again. Publish the findings. Instead, Consumer Reports did something different and that generated plenty of headlines and publicity and CR loves that.
Apple launched a new series of MacBook Pro laptops this fall, and Consumer Reports’ labs have just finished evaluating them. The laptops did very well in measures of display quality and performance, but in terms of battery life, we found that the models varied dramatically from one trial to another.
As a result, these laptops are the first MacBooks not to receive recommended ratings from Consumer Reports.
Uh oh. Bad results equals bad publicity.
Meanwhile, Apple reached out to Consumer Reports because the company’s own testing revealed pretty good battery life on the MacBook Pro. Apple and CR got together, tracked down the problem– a little bit CR, a little bit Apple– and all is well. Apple gets a good rating for the MacBook Pro, and Consumer Reports got some much needed publicity.
Consumer Reports has now finished retesting the battery life on Apple’s new MacBook Pro laptops, and our results show that a software update released by Apple on January 9 fixed problems we’d encountered in earlier testing.
That’s only part of the story so Consumer Reports is being somewhat disingenuous here. The bug uncovered by and fixed by Apple was in the Developer option in the Safari browser– an option that probably not 1 out of a thousand Mac users knows about or cares about, but Consumer Reports’ testers had it turned on, and that initiated the bug that caused the crazy battery life times.
In other words, Consumer Reports used a setting that would not be used by average MacBook Pro owners.
The process we followed with Apple is the same process we follow with any manufacturer when we discover a significant problem. We shared our test results with the company so it could better understand our findings and deliver a fix to consumers. Since Apple made a fix, we retested the laptops.
That’s probably a lie. Consumer Reports was very quick to publish a report dissing the MacBook Pro’s battery life without working with Apple– at first– to determine the cause.
Shame on Consumer Reports for poor reporting and for the deception. I canceled my CR subscription back during Antennagate. I know it’s not easy to review so many products, but this example– as well as the iPhone 4’s so-called Antennagate problem– smacks of a need for headline sensationalism vs. implementing tried and true testing techniques.