Safari bug responsible for poor Consumer Reports MacBook Pro battery tests

November saw the controversial release of Apple’s latest port-lite MacBook Pros, but December saw even more controversy as the device was in the headlines again, this time for being the first Apple MacBook to not recieve a "Recommended" rating from Consumer Reports.

This was largely down to the device’s irregular battery life which varied from 19.5 hours to as little as 3.75 hours when testing. The publication worked with Apple and now says that the problem was caused by an "obscure" Safari bug specific to page caching, which the publication disables when it runs its battery tests.

In testing battery life, the site sets sets laptop screens to a specific brightness level and then loads a series of webpages in the laptop’s default browser (Safari in this case) in a loop until the battery dies. Apple suggests that disabling browser caching for a test like this doesn’t reflect real-world use, but it does make sense for testing as users will continually read new pages rather than visiting the same static pages. 

Apple has said that it has fixed the bug in the latest macOS Sierra beta that was released to testers on Tuesday, the third beta of version 10.12.3. 

After widespread criticsm of the device’s battery, Apple "fixed" it with a software update that disabled battery life estimates entirely across all Mac laptops that run Sierra. Critics have blamed the laptop’s poor battery life on the new Touch Bar, and that the company was forced to use a different battery with less capacity than it had originally planned.

Consumer Reports has said that it will re-test the laptops’ batteries and revisit its rating should the results be different.

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