Consumer Reports recommends MacBook Pro after Safari fix and battery life retest

Sam Lionheart/iFixit
The 2016 MacBook Pro has caused consternation among Mac fans and racked up less-than-favorable reviews, including ours, which describes the new laptop as taking “a significant step back” in battery life. That also initially included Consumer Reports, which refrained from recommending Apple’s newest laptop for the first time ever, in part due to the laptop’s performance on Consumer Reports’ battery life tests.

After some back-and-forth with Apple, however, Consumer Reports agreed to retest the MacBook Pro battery life, amid concerns that the initial results might have been skewed by an elusive bug. According to 9to5Mac, Consumer Reports’ decision to retest the battery was the result of Apple presenting evidence that the results were caused by a bug that may have negatively impacted the initial testing.

Consumer Reports completed its new round of testing on Thursday and the results are significantly improved. Not only was battery life consistent, but it was also highly competitive. The 2016 models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch bar, the 13-inch version without Touch Bar, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro were all retested, and battery life was 15.75 hours, 18.75 hours, and 17.25 hours, respectively. Given the new results, Consumer Reports has now added the 2016 MacBook Pro line to their list of recommended machines.

Consumer Reports was generally positive about the 2016 MacBook Pro’s display quality and performance in its initial review. The machines fell down in battery performance, however, an area that has been a complaint of numerous buyers (apparently the result of the choice of a lesser design).

According to Consumer Reports’ first round of testing, the most significant issue with battery life wasn’t specifically how long the computers would run before shutting down but rather their inconsistency. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, for example, ran for 16 hours, 12.75 hours, and 3.75 hours on subsequent tests. The 13-inch version without Touch Bar ran for 19.5 hours and 4.5 hours in different trial runs, and the 15-inch machine showed a range from 8 to 18.5 hours.

The organization notes that laptops usually vary by less than five percent between tests; Consumer Reports said it was able to replicate the MacBook Pro’s inconsistent results via repeated testing. The reviewers requested a response from Apple and at first received a typical canned statement: “Any customer who has a question about their Mac or its operation should contact AppleCare.”

Apple Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller responded via Twitter on December 23 that Apple is taking things a little more seriously than that, however:

Consumer Reports cannot be faulted for its testing methodologies, which seem rigorous. The group upgraded its test machines to MacOS Sierra 10.12.2 and tested again to determine if Apple had resolved any battery issues in the latest update. The results were the same.

Apparently, similar concerns about the 2016 MacBook Air’s battery life are not without merit. While lower battery life could be expected given their smaller battery capacity versus previous MacBook Air models, the incredibly inconsistent results suggest a problem.

If you want to install the Safari bug fix that resolved the issue that interfered with the original round of tests, then you will need to first sign up for Apple’s Beta Software Program. Then, you’ll be able to download and install the fix. If you’re a little more patient, then you can wait for Apple to roll out the update to all users in “several weeks.”

Updated on 1-12-2017 by Mark Coppock: Added information supporting Consumer Reports’ new recommendation of the 2016 MacBook Pro line.

Computing

Old Nvidia graphics cards to get ray tracing support in upcoming driver

Nvidia's RTX ray tracing technology will no longer be limited to RTX graphics cards. An upcoming driver update will add support for low-end ray tracing to GTX 10-series and 16-series graphics cards.
Computing

Is 14 inches the perfect size for a laptop? These 4 laptops might convince you

If you're looking for the best 14-inch laptops, there are a number of factors to consider. You want good battery life, an attractive screen, solid performance, and a good build. Our favorites that do all that and more.
Computing

Struggling to pick between a MacBook Pro and Surface Pro 6? This guide can help

Unsure how to choose between a Windows and MacOS laptop? There are plenty of options out there, with some better than others. We pitted the MacBook Pro vs. Surface Pro 6 to see which is the best, whichever operating system you prefer.
Computing

Tired of choosing between Windows and Mac? Check out these Chromebooks instead

We've compiled a list of the best Chromebooks -- laptops that combine great battery life, comfortable keyboards, and the performance it takes to run Google's lightweight Chrome OS. From Samsung to Acer, these are the Chromebooks that really…
Computing

Keep your portable computer safe and shiny with the best laptop bags for 2019

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.
Computing

Apple iMac gets more powerful with new Intel CPUs, Radeon Pro graphics

Apple on Tuesday, March 19 refreshed its iMac lineup with new models featuring slightly more powerful Intel processors and new AMD graphics cards. The new 27-inch 5K model comes with options for Intel's six-core or eight-core ninth-gen…
Cars

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.
Photography

Paper designs digitize in real time using an Illustrator-connected paper tablet

Love graphic design, but prefer the feel of real paper? The new Moleskine Paper Tablet - Creative Cloud Connected syncs with Adobe Illustrator in real time, turning paper sketches into digital drawings.
Computing

Make the most of your toner with our five favorite color laser printers

Color laser printers have improved dramatically over the years, and today's models offer both blazing print speeds and great image quality. Here are our favorite color laser printers, from massive all-in-ones to smaller budget options.
Computing

Firefox 66 is here and it will soon block irritating autoplay videos

Do web advertisements have you frustrated? Mozilla is here to help. The latest version of the browser will soon block autoplaying videos by default and will also help make web page scrolling smoother.
Computing

USB4 will be the fastest and most uniform USB standard yet

USB4 is on the horizon and alongside a massive boost in speed it's also unifying with the Thunderbolt 3 standard to help finally create a singular wired connection protocol that all devices can enjoy.
Computing

The U.S. government plans to drop $500M on a ridiculously powerful supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced plans to build a $500 million exascale supercomputer by 2021. The project, known as the Aurora supercomputer, is expected to boost research efforts in fields such as public health.
Buying Guides

Apple has powered up its iMac lineup, but which one should you opt for?

With new processors and graphics cards for both the 4K and 5K models, the iMac feels like a good option for creatives again. But which should you buy? Here's our guide to choosing the right Apple all-in-one for your needs.