Poor battery life with 13.3" 4gigs ram variant?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by chim, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. chim macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    I recently got a 13.3 with 4 gigs of ram, and lemme preface this by saying that it is a phenomenal computer. I have an ipad, and using airdisplay to do wireless dual monitors is a sight to behold.

    However, I've noticed a rather disturbing battery drain on my MBA. It came at about 86% charged, and after a full charge I've noticed fairly significant battery drain. I didn't time anything, but it hit ~50% battery after an evening of really sparse usage (brightness 50%, wifi on, no mp3s playing, click2flash installed and no flash content used).

    I figured it was first day jitters and recharged it to full, then watched a single video on hulu with flash enabled and full screened at the same 50% brightness with 80% sound. After a 3 minute video, I was already down to 97%. Then I searched online for average battery life, finding out that it was capable of handling 11.2 hours of light browsing usage from anandtech. This took a max of an additional 10 minutes, which dropped the battery to 95% (no flash was on and hulu was closed). I shut the lid and opened it again this morning after 8 hours of standby and it was at 94%.

    Is anybody else experiencing similar battery issues? I don't feel very confident that this MBA can last half the day if I was using it non stop, let alone a full 11.2 hours. I want to know if this is a battery defect on my own laptop and warrants a replacement, or if this is the status quo.

    In fact, in the time it took me to type this post on my desktop computer, my macbook air has dropped down another % to 93% with absolutely nothing running and no active use.
  2. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    First, if you click the battery indicator in the menu bar, it will tell you how fast it is draining, not just these approximations you've given, which might just be paranoia on your side. I don't have a screenshot handy, and can't really find any good on Google, but here it is, while plugged in and showing time remaining until a full charge :


    Of course, if on battery power, it shows time remaining before being drained instead of charged.

    At 100% charge and doing just web browsing, I get around 8 hours left until empty with that indicator, which about holds true and is higher than Apple's quoted 7 hours.
  3. chim thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    thanks for the prompt response. i get 1:54 when watching a flash video and 5:34 to 6:45 when doing light browsing at 93%.

  4. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    Those numbers seem fine for 50% brightness (that is very bright btw, I'm usually at 2-3 dots on the brightness scale).
  5. zstar macrumors member

    Nov 10, 2010
    I'm getting worried about my 13.3" macbook air ultimate as well, it seems my battery life is the poorest here. Estimated 5++ hours for just browsing, 3 bar brightness and 6 bar sound used yesterday. Now it's in sleep mode in that part of the battery calibration and hopefully when I fully complete the calibration tommorrow the battery will be great.

    It's my first mac and I'm kinda apprehensive and a little paranoid about my macbook air. It could be nothing or a real battery problem, guess we'll see tommorrow.
  6. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    Also it may take a number of full discharge and charge cycles before you get very accurate readings of estimated battery life. So I would recommend making a point of using it off ac power until empty then fully recharging it a handful of times before deciding how battery life is for you.

    Your initial experience really illustrates why SJ doesn't like flash though.
  7. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I have the same model but it's been on AC the entire time as I was migrating over from my old MacBook Air. I'll put it on standby tonight and see what happens.

    For reference, if I left my old Rev B on standby all night it would usually drop from 100% to about 93% in the morning.
  8. chim thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    I was just basing my numbers off of this :

    which might have set off my inner paranoia OCD about checking battery life... I will put the laptop through a complete charge cycle and see how it goes!
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Do you have anything in the SD slot? Deep sleep works only if the SD slot is open.
  10. kenwalton macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2010
    I've got a 13/2.13/4GB/256 and I've been able to get 9 hours and 20 minutes with lightweight surfing at 50% brightness. I think I could come closer to the Anandtech results if I set my laptop up to surf robotically and didn't touch it, like they do, but there was work to be done, and I suspect that heavy Google Apps usage and a lot of tab switching is a little harder on the battery.

    My reported battery life got better after a couple of calibrations. It sounds like your initial impressions were similar to mine, but I'm very happy with it now.
  11. chim thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    great! thats all I needed to hear. I dont have anything in the SD slot, but will keep that in mind for the future!
  12. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    Apple says that the 13" MBP gets 10 hours of battery life, but in reality it only gets 5 hours of medium duty browsing with 5-10 tabs open in firefox.

    The battery life in almost never what Apple says.
  13. Dammit Cubs macrumors 68000

    Dammit Cubs

    Jul 31, 2007
    well technically....

    if you have more ram, you should be consuming more power.

  14. BENJMNS macrumors 6502


    Dec 28, 2005
    you guys are freaking out.

    batt usage has so many factors playing into the actual "results" you get.

    just enjoy computing on your mba. 97% batt life and you're getting worried?

    let it run its course and have it adapt to your life rather than the reverse.
  15. linkandzelda macrumors regular

    Nov 8, 2010
    Thats true, but Jobs said they are using a more stricter testing method for battery life. Lets hope from now on their estimated battery life is better and more accurate than before.
  16. gwsat macrumors 68000


    Apr 12, 2008
    Here, for what it's worth, is what I did to check the battery longevity on my 13 inch MBA.

    I decided to use the MBA on battery power alone for as much of a full day as possible. On what was going to be a more or less typical day of use I started using it on battery at a little after 7:30 AM and continued to use it that way the rest of the day. Although I was away from the MBA for a couple of hours during the day, I used it off and on, mostly on, the rest of the day and into the evening. I did not receive a low battery indication, the battery icon turns from black to red, until 9:45 PM. At that point I decided I wasn't going to worry about battery life anymore. I should add that I kept the battery indicator set to show time remaining rather that percent remaining. Although time remaining works like an instant MPG display in a car and varies wildly, I have found myself obsessing less about the battery running down when I show time remaining that I do when I use percentage remaining.
  17. macbook123 macrumors 68000

    Feb 11, 2006
    My battery life is all but stellar, too. For example, I just unplugged it an hour ago and have been using it at 60% screen brightness with WiFi and Bluetooth off, and have only 4:30 left, when all I'm doing is light text editing. Should I return it to Apple?
  18. runnin17 macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2008
    Why do you have it at 60% brightness. I have yet to be in any situation (other than maybe outside) that requires more than 50% brightness. You are getting an estimated 5:30 hours on 60% brightness. Turn the brightness down to about 2-4 clicks and you will get the normal amount of battery life.

    I am averaging about 9-10 hours of battery life on my 13" maxxed out MBA. If I am watching videos then I am getting about 6 hours depending on the brightness I set it at. Needless to say I am very happy with my purchase!!!
  19. wirelessmacuser macrumors 68000


    Dec 20, 2009
    My 13" w/4GB returned terrific battery life before the computer died. I don't see any reason to think that this config would not return good battery life.
  20. Scott6666 macrumors 65816


    Feb 2, 2008
    Check the About This Mac and look for the battery info. It shows the max capacity & health of the battery. Publish on the boards what it is so you can compare to what it should be.
  21. macbook123 macrumors 68000

    Feb 11, 2006
    Wait, are you telling me that the numbers Steve Jobs quoted during the presentation (7 hours of battery life with realistic usage) were based on tests with display brightness set to 12.5%-25% (I suppose that's what you mean by 2-4 "clicks", there being 16 "clicks" in the settings overall)? I'm pretty sure Steve wouldn't use such unrealistic conditions as a "realistic" test...

    To answer your question, I need 60% brightness to be able to comfortably work during daytime. 12.5%-25% display brightness is NOT enough for me even inside, unless it is dark outside and I have the lights low. So I guess it is either that my retina has lower sensitivity than yours, or that you live above the arctic circle and don't get much light, or we have different MBA displays.
  22. foiden macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2008
    Makes sense. Some people have different lighting sensitivity. My friend definitely requires a fairly high brightness setting for everything. While I'm completely accustomed to a low brightness setting (almost to the bottom). Always have been. So on all electronics, I enjoy more battery life from them.
  23. macbook123 macrumors 68000

    Feb 11, 2006
    That is strange as I have been known to have good night vision. It's not that I don't see text etc on the Air's display at 2-4 notches, it's just that it's more comfortable to read when it's at half brightness. Is it actually easier for you to see things at 12.5% brightness than at 50%? If so, what do you do e.g. when driving on a sunny day? Do you need sunglasses to make out the traffic, signs, etc? I'm not trying to be confrontational, seriously just wondering.
  24. runnin17 macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2008
    How exactly do you know what a realistic test is? If you are not getting the reported 7 hours of battery life then it is pretty obvious you are not operating under the same "realistic" circumstances that SJ was talking about. If you are that arrogant or stubborn to think Apple was catering to you with the new MBA then I regretfully inform you otherwise.

    25% brightness puts out plenty of light on the MBA's screen. Very rarely have I gone above 25% brightness and often when I do my eyes become fatigued much faster.

    As far as where I live, that really doesn't matter. 95% of the time laptops are used inside where there is plenty of light. If you are having such a hard time with your MBA then I guess Apple made a product for the rest of the world this time. You should complain some more about it.

    EDIT: To answer your question about driving on a sunny day, yes I almost always have to use sunglasses (at least to be comfortable driving). You should always wear sunglasses when you are outside or driving anyway when the sun is out. They are as much a protective measure as they are a fashion statement. This is coming from an ophthalmology resident. Cheers!
  25. macbook123 macrumors 68000

    Feb 11, 2006
    Wow, not sure what I did to come across as arrogant, but I am really just inquiring here out of curiosity and the slight suspicion that my battery may be suboptimal or my display less bright. I'll ask Apple if they did their tests at 25% or less brightness with WiFi and Bluetooth off and see what comes out. I'll be honest and say again that I highly doubt that these were the test conditions. And for the record, having the display at <25% makes it DIM. If e.g. I have a paper or book next to my screen at normal-low background lighting in my room, and move my eyes between the display and paper, the display is SIGNIFICANTLY dimmer, I'd say about 3 times dimmer, than the paper, and my pupils necessarily need to adjust. I'd call optimal brightness setting when it is as bright as the paper/book I'm looking at. So, my display appears to be MUCH dimmer than yours or you like to look at dim displays.

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