Apple has picked a rather interesting way of dealing with the unpredictable (and underwhelming) battery life on its newest MacBook Pros: the company is eliminating the “time remaining” estimate that shows up when you click the battery icon in the status bar. The change is being made in the newest version of macOS Sierra — 10.12.2 — which hit the Mac App Store today.
The problem with the time estimate, as our own Walt Mossberg noticed in his review of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, was that it fluctuated wildly on Apple’s newest laptops. Apple reps told him at the time that the ability of modern processors to ramp power up and down in response to different tasks made it harder to generate specific, steady estimates.
Apple promises a ceiling of about 10 hours of use with the new laptops, but many reviewers — including our own — had a hard time replicating that performance. Verge editor Jake Kastrenakes had so much trouble getting the 13-inch version to regularly eclipse six hours of battery life that Apple sent another MacBook Pro in hopes that there was an issue with the first unit. There wasn’t.
It’s not clear why, after a month of responding to battery life issues on the new laptops, this is the route Apple chose. You could argue that the “time remaining” feature could be more clearly labeled as an estimated figure. But giving users less information isn’t going to do much to fix the initial problem, which is that the real world battery performance of the newest MacBook Pros doesn’t seem up to the standard being promised. We’ve reached out to Apple and will update when they respond.