Is Mountain Lion eroding MacBook battery life? Scores of Apple users say yes

Mac OS X Mountain LionUpdated operating systems typically introduce longer battery life when compared to the version that came before, but Mountain Lion seems to be doing the opposite for users upgrading their MacBook Airs and Pros. A large number of Apple users have been venting their frustrations in forums since July 25, the official launch date of the new OS. Besides the odd person who has seen little or no change in battery life, the majority of users are reporting a significant drop in battery life since updating. In some cases users are describing a 50 percent decrease in battery life.

Chris Foresman, from Ars Technica, did an “unscientific test” on a MacBook Air from 2010 (upgrading from Lion to Mountain Lion). He discovered that under the same circumstances Mountain Lion was predicting 3.5 hours of battery life, while Lion would typically predict 4.5 hours. The difference between the two times is about 20 percent, definitely too high for an OS that’s supposed to improve upon Lion. More alarmingly, Foresman claimed the battery appeared to drop by 1 percent every two minutes. 

Those having issues are tossing around some possible explanations — various programs idling in the background (Dropbox seems to be a common problem), applications that are incompatible with Mountain Lion, errors in file permissions, and the resource-intensive file indexing required. But so far, despite some very creative solutions, users can’t seem to reverse the effect. However, it seems that Apple has finally begun approaching users and asking them to submit system data to help find an answer to the problem.

Though we didn’t conduct a test nearly as detailed as Foresman did, we have noticed a dip in battery life on our own MacBook Pro from late 2010. We can’t quantify it, but suffice to say that we don’t feel quite at ease without a power outlet within arm’s reach. Being constantly attached to our power cord is not desirable in the least, especially since Apple laptops rely on a long-lasting battery to compete in the industry. It certainly hasn’t helped our current feelings on Apple’s latest offerings after being utterly disappointed by the new Retina-equipped MacBook Pro.

Whether it’s a problem with Apple ‘s software or a specific program remains to be decided. Further testing and troubleshooting will be required to identify the cause to the battery drop. What about you? Have you noticed any change in battery life after installing Mountain Lion?