Much digital ink has been spilled over Apple’s new MacBook Pro line since it was released late in 2016. Among the traditional under-powered and over-priced memes, was the abysmal battery life; apparently so bad that even Consumer Reports’ just said no to the MacBook Pro as a recommendation (later recanted after Apple showed CR’s non-standard testing technique turned up a bug).
Now I can speak about battery life from experience, thanks to a long-awaited, build-to-order 15-inch MacBook Pro that arrived a few weeks ago, an elegant machine that bristles with almost everything Apple thinks the device should have to be in the so-called professional realm. 16GB RAM. i7 Intel Inside. 1TB SSD storage. Radeon Pro 455 GPU (Sorry; I had a budget).
First, the MacBook Pro is screaming fast. Yes, there’s no way to add RAM. I can’t put in a new battery, either. And I cannot upgrade to a larger SSD or add a different GPU. That means build-to-order is important, so choose wisely. But everything I’ve thrown at this machine runs without a hiccup and performance is better than an i7 iMac that sits on my desk in the office.
To test overall performance, I opened up a couple of dozen different apps; everything Apple, Microsoft’s Office, and a handful of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite that I use regularly. All running at the same time. Everything ran buttery smooth. With 16GB of RAM. Then I opened up another dozen smaller utilities and tools I use from time to time to max out the RAM and start some SSD page swapping, and then switched back and forth between them all. Again, buttery smooth.
Second, battery life. Consumer Reports’ won’t share exactly what they did in their original MacBook Pro battery testing, but tests available online point to the same thing. 10-13 hours of battery life. What about real world usage? That’s more difficult to quantify, but the 10-hour range of reading, writing, viewing, and listening to movies and podcasts was met with ease.
Yes, battery life fully depends upon your personal MacBook Pro configuration and workflow, but I’m just not seeing the same problems that some users report online.
Third, perspective. Here’s the real problem. Go online to almost any Mac or Apple-oriented forum, or even Apple’s own support groups, and you’ll find plenty of owners bashing this or that. The same thing takes place with every new Apple product and it’s been that way as long as I can remember. Humans love to criticize and the interwebs provide an excellent and anonymous way to do just that for any reason.
What you seldom see or read about during such negative discourse is actual configuration and usage. Again, those are subjective and vary greatly between users.
Instead, reviewers leave comments like this:
- MBP battery life is horrible!
- 4 hours on 4k video. Junk!
- Apple should be ashamed.
- Better battery life on old MacBook Air
- What! No ‘time remaining’ indicator?
Those are common complaints from the anonymous online crowd, but you’ll see just as many responses from users who are surprised how well their MacBook Pros perform.
Perspective. And subjectivity. Such real-world testing is an exercise in futility because everyone uses their devices differently. Apple removed the Time Remaining option from battery status in the MacBook Pro’s Menubar so how can anyone determine how much time remains? Every user’s app usage is different. I wouldn’t mind the option because I know how I use my machine, and there are available utilities that bring it back. One is appropriately named Missing Battery Indicator. It’s free.
The point should be obvious. Battery life, defined by Apple, remains as it always has; an indicator under average conditions with basic configurations. Add more RAM, a different GPU, larger SSD, faster CPU, and those combine to impact battery life. Then load up a Mac with different background processes, startup utilities, and a suite of applications, and that impacts battery life, too.
Unfortunately, the naysayers and complainers seldom tell the rest of us how their Macs are configured, so we don’t get much an Apple to apples comparison. Instead, we get plenty of worthless noise.