Apple says macOS 10.12.2 should not ‘improve MacBook Pro battery life’

Macbook-Pro-Touch-Bar-2

With growing concern about the battery life on the new MacBook Pros, ArsTechnica has written a short piece outlining the reason why users are seeing worse battery life.

There have been some reports of battery life being improved in the latest update, but the site reportedly said Apple ‘told us repeatedly and emphatically that it had taken no specific steps to improve MacBook Pro battery life in this update.’ Though, ArsTechnica did some extra digging around to try to find the reason behind the improved battery life reports.

The piece says that worse battery life could be due to several services taking up precious battery life when it’s used for the first time.

Apple’s Spotlight indexing service crawls through all of that content to make it easier to search through later, and iCloud syncing for iCloud Drive, the iCloud Photo Library or Photo Stream features, and other features can also make for a lot of uploading and downloading. Battery life in the first day or two may not necessarily be representative of normal battery life once everything has settled down.

This could also help to explain some of those reports that battery life has improved since the 10.12.2 update landed. It could be that the update’s installation coincided with the end of those first-time Spotlight and iCloud operations.

The firm also outlines three other possibilities that reflect real-life pro usage. It says Apple’s battery benchmarks typically target the average user, even though this is a pro machine.

First and foremost, Apple significantly recused the battery capacity of the new MacBook Pros.

The 13-inch model drops from 74.9 WHr to 49.2 WHr and the 15-inch model falls from 99.5 WHr to 76 WHr. That’s a 34 percent and 24 percent reduction in capacity, respectively.

Second, while the new Skylake processors are more power-efficient, that’s really only noticeable under extremely light load or while the machine is idling.

Sometimes the newer chips consume a tiny bit less power than the older ones, and sometimes they use a little bit more, but they’re broadly comparable […] The less idle processor time you have, the less Intel’s recent power optimizations can help you.

And lastly, the 15-inch models now have a more power-hungry discrete GPU, and you can’t choose when to enable or disable them.

There’s no integrated-only option for people who would like to prioritize battery life over external display output. The laptops will dynamically switch between the integrated and dedicated GPUs to save power, and while it does help, switchable GPUs are still a kludgy solution to the problem. There’s no way to turn the dedicated GPU off entirely, so it’s still going to be kicking on and off depending on what you’re doing […]

As of Sierra it doesn’t appear to be able to handle manual graphics switching on anysystem. So 15-inch Pro owners have to put up with increased GPU power consumption.

To sum it up, the piece recommends doing four things to improve battery life:

  • Reduce screen brightness
  • Close unused apps & tabs (especially ones that frequently perform a background sync)
  • Use Safari rather than Chrome
  • Use Activity Monitor’s energy tab to identify other power-hogging apps

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