Influential organization Consumer Reports tested Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new MacBook Pro and the results are more bad news for AAPL stock. The fancy new laptop that’s generated so much controversy since its launch is in the news again, and not in a good way.
Consumer Reports tested the new MacBook Pro and Apple’s new professional laptop failed to gain the coveted “recommended” buy rating.
This is the first time that any of Apple’s MacBooks have not been recommended purchases by Consumer Reports.
Why the New MacBook Pro Flunked Consumer Reports Testing
According to Consumer Reports, all three of the new MacBook Pro models underwent testing: the 15-inch, 13-inch and the 13-inch without Touch Bar. And while the reviewers found the overall system performance and display quality met the expectations set by Apple’s typically high standards, battery life is the laptop’s Achilles’ heel.
Apple claims battery life of up to 10 hours on the new MacBook Pro. During testing, however, Consumer Reports found battery life varied wildly. While the organization says it finds battery life for laptops it tests typically fluctuate by 5% or so between trials, Apple’s new machines were all over the map. It notes one example:
“In a series of three consecutive tests, the 13-inch model with the TouchBar ran for 16 hours in the first trial, 12.75 hours in the second and just 3.75 hours in the third.”
These inconsistent results continued during testing and affected all three MacBook Pro models. Averaging the results — which would be the usual practice — doesn’t work when the numbers are so wildly varied. Although the 13-inch model slightly beat Apple’s 10-hour rating during the testing, someone who bought one could easily find the battery runs out in less than four hours.
Wrapping up its testing of the new MacBook Pro, Consumer Reports says:
“Battery life is an important attribute for a laptop, and it represents a significant portion of our overall score. After factoring together our complete test results, Consumer Reports finds that all three MacBook Pro models fail to meet our standards for recommended models.”
Apple Knew It Had a Battery Problem
According to a report published in Bloomberg, Apple knew it had a MacBook Pro battery issue prior to launch.
The company was apparently set to release its laptops with a new high capacity battery, but it failed a key test. The decision was made to go with older, proven battery technology to avoid delaying the launch of what Apple was positioning as its best laptop ever.
That decision was costly and instead of the expected “best laptop” accolades, AAPL has been dealing with a flood of criticism.
Turning the MacBook Pro battery problem into even more of a PR fumble, Apple released a new version of macOS to address the problem. The solution? Apple removed the “time remaining” estimate from the status bar.
The New MacBook Pro’s Rocky Launch
PC sales are sliding and laptops are taking an increasingly bigger chunk of what’s left. Apple had a reputation for selling the best laptop on the market with the MacBook Pro, and the 2016 edition was thinner and faster than ever, with a fancy new OLED Touch Bar to wow the faithful.
Although Mac sales only accounted for roughly 10% of AAPL revenue this year, that’s still a lot of money. Apple was obviously hoping the new MacBook Pro would receive a warmer reception than it has, and help to grow its share of the remaining PC pie.
Despite a decidedly lukewarm reception, the new MacBook Pro booked big launch sales numbers. However, at least some of that was due to faithful repeat buyers who had waited nearly four years for a major redesign. Now AAPL is dealing with professional users who are carefully evaluating options, and consumers who want value for their money in a PC.
The new MacBook Pro’s higher cost compared to previous models is a barrier to both these groups, as is the constant stream of online grumbling. The latest blow of losing the coveted Consumer Reports “recommended” buy rating — especially after every previous MacBook was on the list — is not going to help matters any.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.