Consumer Reports Fails to Earn MacBook Pro Credibility
Update, January 12, 2017: Consumer Reports now recommends the MacBook Pro.
No specific author is credited with the update, which seems strange. Consumer Reports also seemingly still doesn't recognize the problem with the original article, which led to as many questions about their testing and publishing methodology as it did MacBook Pro battery life.
Also: Can I get a MacBook Pro that runs 18.75 hours? Pretty please?
Update, January 10, 2017: Apple provided me with the following statement on Consumer Reports' test:
Update, December 23, 2016: Apple's head of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, posted the following statement on Twitter:
Working with CR to understand their battery tests. Results do not match our extensive lab tests or field data. https://t.co/IWtfsmBwpOWorking with CR to understand their battery tests. Results do not match our extensive lab tests or field data. https://t.co/IWtfsmBwpO— Philip Schiller (@pschiller) December 24, 2016December 24, 2016
Here's hoping Consumer Reports shares their test method with Apple so the results can be vetted and, if necessary fixes can be made. That's what's best for the consumer.
There's been a lot of discussion around MacBook Pro battery life. For some people it's been fine. For others, problematic. Some reviewers have had a great time. Others have had a bad experience. Apple is sticking to their original estimates, but given the ongoing debate, it's something that needs a deeper look. Sadly, Consumer Reports hasn't done that. If anything, they've only increased confusion.
What was the test?
Was it because some tests used Chrome instead of Safari, which previous tests have shown can greatly reduce battery life?
If I were running the tests, that right there would be a red flag. A huge, glowing, neon red flag.
Those results make very little sense and I'd take apart my chain, link by link, until I found out what was going on. I'd check and re-check my tests, I'd watch the systems like a hawk, and I'd do everything possible to find what was causing the variance. I'd even — gasp — try testing different machines and something other than web pages to see if that revealed more information.
Inconsistent results from battery life tests, for responsible publications, aren't a reason to rush out a headline in time for the holidays. They're a reason to start questioning everything, and to diligently retrace every step along the way, until you can get repeatable, reputable results.
What did Consumer Reports do?
As someone who's been using a new MacBook Pro since the event back in October, and seldom with an outlet nearby, I'd laugh at that if I wasn't so busy crying. Then again, I know how to use Activity Monitor... My anecdote isn't data, though, and neither is Consumer Reports'.
Sadly, we now live in a world filled with manufactured controversies and, quite often, fake news. It's fake claims about real sapphire, cancelled watch apps that ship on time, and the perpetual rush not just to find the next "gate" but, in many cases, to create it.
"Bendgate" and "chipgate" showed there was blood in the pageview water, so now the click sharks are circling.
Now, I don't think Consumer Reports is faking news here, but I do think they're after attention more than they are answers. Otherwise, I think they would have taken the time to figure out what happened, why, and presented something truly useful. Sadly, I don't think that's their primary concern anymore. And it's why I stopped reading Consumer Reports years ago. (Yes, even their Samsung Galaxy waterproofing report.)
These days, if I'm interested in battery life tests, I go to AnandTech or Ars Technica, where they show their work, explain their methods, and often take whatever time is required to get real answers before hitting publish. Same for other areas. I look to the experts who don't settle for confusion but demand clarity.
If there is something wrong with the MacBook Pro battery, then I want to know about it. Just saying you got inconsistent results is as valuable as telling me it takes 1, 4, or 12 hours to cook a turkey – not at all. I can get food poisoning or burn a bird on my own, thanks.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
1. Bigger screen
2. Bigger hard drive
3. More RAM
4. Lower price. All that said, Apple needs to get a handle on this battery nonsense. There are too many reports from long-time Mac users for it to be imaginary.
Also, perhaps their "in-house" websites were optimized for Chrome, and run like **** on Safari. Sent from the iMore App
Typically, low-priority processes (Such as those I listed) can and/or should be suspended until connected to a power source. Perhaps there is one or more that aren't suspending during battery power, therefore draining the battery too quickly. I mentioned indexing or iCloud document syncing or photo syncing etc bc they are not user facing, and could easily drain the battery if let run. I don't see why that is so hard to believe. There have been software bugs before, right?
I don't know what CR loads onto their computers for testing, but loading photos is high up on the list of things a consumer would do with a computer, therefore doing so would be a good "real-world" test, IMO.
Sorry I don't know HOW to optimize a web page for safari vs chrome, but they are two different programs, and I know certain types of websites run differently on different browsers. Code does just work with everything. A sentence spoken in Mandarin may translate differently to Russian that to English.
But we don't know what they did and didn't do, which is why Apple is looking into it. I feel it was irresponsible of CR to publish without talking to Apple about such wildly varying times, but the responsibility of correcting any rogue process causing problems certainly belongs to Apple. And who knows, maybe CR did contact Apple about it first, but didn't respond in the right way. Sent from the iMore App
I presume Apple will not really be hurt by this, TBH. Personally, I'm not a fan of this MacBook Pro, not that I'm in the market for an Apple laptop anyhow, so judge the follow considering that. The type of people who would buy it already have to consider the list of complaints from other reviews (dongles, not "pro" enough for the price, etc). If someone was waiting for the MacBook Pro to be updated, they are likely going to get it, regardless of CR's recommendation, and "normal" users seem to lean towards the cheaper MacBooks anyhow. Those who do rely on CR were likely not in the market for said laptops, IMO, but I could be wrong. So this may sway a few people, but I would be curious to know how much this actually hurts Apple.
Yes Ignorance is bliss.
Don't blame you if you are not a cook. Or one with a very bad nose who can't smell a burnt turkey.
Not all gates are meaningless.
But good to come to iMore and get the Apple PR response first hand.
Apple back to the drawing board and try to focus in the inner parts and not just thinness and looks. So rather blaming consumer report put the blame where it belongs.
What data do you have on Apple being stupid by removing an inaccurate indication of residual battery life? What good was it in the first place? As a matter of fact I never used it. I use the percentage to decide if I need to recharge. You can laugh at their solution but you simply do not know how much of a problem calculating time remaining was in the first place. How much drain would it be on the battery to do it? How much gain is earned by NOT giving users an inaccurate estimate in the first place?
MacBook Pro Fails to Earn Consumer Reports Credibility
"What Apple's tweaked is how battery life is displayed. The percentage readout remains, but the time remaining indicator has been removed. It's irksome, but, for now at least, for the best. It's not only almost impossible to accurately predict the time remaining on a system whose load can vary greatly from one minute to the next, the API seemed especially… drunk? lately. Mine would go to 14 hours, back to 7 hours, then to 12 hours, and otherwise being useless for a while now." These are signs that there are continued battery problems, not signs that the battery meter itself is problematic. They shot the messenger and you applauded.
More efficient CPU? yes
Better optimized less power hungry software?, Maybe.
Other factors you or I certainly haven't considered? Undoubtedly.
The MacBook Pro laptops tested had the problem with the test. Blame the bug or the laptop, but not the typical test.