The new MacBook Pros are the first ones Consumer Reports isn’t recommending

Consumer Reports: not for consumers.
Consumer Reports: not for consumers.
Image: EPA/Tony Avelar
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Apple’s newest laptops have been met with mixed reviews since their release in November. And now it seems they won’t be getting the seal of approval from the preeminent product ratings organization in the US, Consumer Reports.

The group announced Dec. 22 that all three versions of the new MacBook Pro—the 13-inch and 15-inch with Touch Bar mini-screen, and the 13-inch without—won’t be recommended, which is the first time a new MacBook Pro model hasn’t been recommended by Consumer Reports since the line came out in 2006. The biggest problem area for all the models was battery life. ”The laptops did very well in measures of display quality and performance,” Consumer Reports said, “but in terms of battery life, we found that the models varied dramatically from one trial to another.”

One of the ways that Consumer Reports tests laptops is to leave the display on until the machine runs out of power. The group found wildly inconsistent results on each machine, sometimes getting very good battery life, and at other times, getting just a few hours. Consumer Reports said it reached out to Apple to ascertain why in its tests battery life varied between nearly 20 hours and 4.5 hours on some models. Apple apparently told the group to direct its queries about issues with its Macs to its AppleCare customer support line. (Quartz has reached out to Apple for comment on its batteries.)

Reviewers and consumers alike have found discrepancies between the advertised battery life for each MacBook and what they can expect to get after each charge. (This post was written on a new 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar, which has also seen inconsistencies in battery life, but generally averages a charge of about five hours, even though it’s supposed to receive up to 10 hours.)

Apple seems to be having some issues with batteries. Beyond its new laptops, the company quietly announced a recall on certain iPhone 6s models, which have been shutting down even though they say they still have a fair amount of charge left. Some, including the Chinese government, believe that the problem is far more widespread than Apple is currently admitting.

The Consumer Reports reviews cap off a rather unspectacular year for Apple, which released a slew of underwhelming products, and saw the company’s annual profits and revenue fall for the first time in 15 years. ”This is a real departure from past MacBooks,” Consumer Reports said. “Most Apple laptops have scored well in our battery test, typically lasting much longer than the manufacturer has claimed.”