MacBook Pro 2016: ‘Consumer Reports’ Test May Be ‘Fake News’ [Opinion]

Don’t believe the hype: The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros (Touch Bar) are the best products Apple has put out in years. The 13-inch version is a portable dream machine, and the 15-inch version, in particular, is a technological marvel. It weighs only four pounds, but is one of the most powerful 15-inch laptops available.

The 15-inch Pro with Touch Bar has received excellent reviews. Laptop Magazine gave Apple’s device four-and-a-half stars.

“If you’re willing to pay a premium for it, the Touch Bar-enabled MacBook Pro ($2,799 as reviewed) is the best version of Apple’s high-end notebook yet. The innovative LED strip already has a variety of practical (and plain fun) uses for creators, and it has the potential to get even better once third-party developers embrace it. It doesn’t hurt that the latest Pro is also thinner, faster and more vibrant than before.”

Because of all the power in such a thin device, the battery life isn’t the most ideal on both the 13-inch and 15-inch Pros, which this author has used extensively. In all of this author’s tests (with more than one device) the battery has lasted about six hours on the 13-inch single charge with heavy use. Normal use has produced more than eight hours of use. The 15-inch MacBook Pro has averaged five hours of use with heavy use, and more than seven with average use. The new MacBook Pros certainly aren’t the type of notebooks where you can leave the charger behind. However, battery life certainly isn’t the “defect’ that some are making it out to be. Consumer Reports unleashed an anti-Christmas gift for Apple on Dec. 22.

Are the MacBook Pro's "battery problems" nothing more than clickbait? [Image by Daryl Deino]

“Apple launched a new series of MacBook Pro laptops this fall, and Consumer Reports’ labs have just finished evaluating them. The laptops did very well in measures of display quality and performance, but in terms of battery life, we found that the models varied dramatically from one trial to another.”

The article adds that tests revealed as little as 3.5 hours of battery life and, as a result, the new MacBook Pro series is the first not to receive recommended ratings from Consumer Reports. However, some have called foul play on Consumer Reports‘ “test.” Rene Ritchie from iMore is just one of them.

“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,” Ritchie points out when referring to the strangely varied results Consumer Reports claimed to test.

The most interesting thing about the Consumer Reports test is that it claims that the use of the Safari browser leads to poor battery life, while the use of Chrome, a browser that has proven to be a battery life killer for every other device, leads to decent life. This could very well mean that, perhaps, something is wrong with Consumer Reports’ tests. But don’t expect most of the mainstream media to admit this. What has become known as “fake news” is a hot commodity of the mainstream media these days, where page clicks are more important than news accuracy. This isn’t to bash the credibility of Consumer Reports, which has been an amazing and mostly unbiased source for 80 years. However, even the best outlets make mistakes.

The 2016 MacBook Pro has been endlessly bashed.
The 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is overpriced but excellent. [Photo by Daryl Deino]

Apple bashing is the new orange these days, which used to be the new black. And Apple certainly deserves some of the backlash. For the past five years, the Cupertino company has coasted on its groundbreaking success with Steve Jobs, even though they haven’t made anything that’s exactly groundbreaking. The fact that the media used to bash products from non-Apple companies (see first 2013 Surface Pro) that would have earned high praise if made by Apple has led to the anger and backlash.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are great smartphones, but can’t compare to Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge and the Galaxy Note 7 (which was unfortunately recalled). The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a perfectly built tablet, but there is no way it can compete with far better tablets such as the Surface Pro 4 when it comes to replacing a laptop. The Apple Watch is a useful product, but not even close to being the groundbreaking device Apple touted it as.

However, the new MacBook Pro notebooks shouldn’t even be mentioned with these other products. Both the 13- and 15-inch versions are compelling in design, display, and keyboard. The main problem is that they are severely overpriced. And even though the Touch Bar is cool, it hasn’t proven anything beyond a gimmick (at least for now). But the MacBook Pros are not even close to being defective or victims of bad quality control. It’s a shame that fake news has traveled from the political arena to the technology industry.

[Featured Image by Daryl Deino]