Apple's first 2016 MacBook Pro design failed tests, leading to poorer battery

MacBook Pro 15
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends
Apple’s 2016 MacBook Pro machines have been flying off the shelves since they were announced in October, but that doesn’t mean everyone is happy with them. They are thinner, lighter and have the new Touch Bar, but they also have smaller batteries, fewer ports, and a few other compromises.

In fact, enough Apple fans complained that the company felt the need to defend a few of its decisions. As it turns out, Apple meant to make some users happier by including more battery capacity in the new MacBook Pros but simply weren’t able to do so in time, Bloomberg reports.

Apparently, Apple was working on a design that fit higher capacity batteries precisely shaped to fit the MacBook Pro chassis, but the design didn’t make it through testing. Apple made the fateful decision to fall back on a previous design using more standard square batteries, a decision that required pulling in staff from other Mac projects to finish the machines on time.

The decision’s impact was widespread. Work on other Macs was affected by the loss of key personnel. The new MacBook Pro took a step back in battery life as capacity was reduced due to the machine’s thin design. And an unrelated bug in the software that provides battery life estimates caused Apple to remove the battery meter in MacOS Sierra 10.12.2.

The Bloomberg report uncovered a number of other interesting tidbits. For example, the team working on the 12-inch 2015 MacBook looked at two different designs, one lighter design known as “Stealth Fighter” and one heavier design known as “Stealth Bomber.” The delay in making everything fit inside the eventual tiny chassis pushed the MacBook’s introduction from 2014 to 2015. The 2016 MacBook was intended to include a Touch ID fingerprint scanner and additional USB Type-C port, and users instead got rose gold and a processor bump.

Apparently, all of the issues around the MacBooks’ design decisions and its place in Apple’s product mix are taking a toll on engineers and other staff, as many have left the company or moved on to other product teams. That might have something to do with CEO Tim Cook’s recent internal memo to employees stressing the company’s commitment to Mac desktops. In the increasingly competitive high-end notebook and desktop market, Apple can’t afford to rest on laurels that are no longer quite as impressive as they once were.

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