What is the REAL expected battery life of the new MacBook Air?

bearinthetown

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2018
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So the new MacBook Air is advertised as 12 hours of battery life. It's even "13 hours when watching iTunes movies" (LOL, like that matters).

But the reviews are stating to achieve 8 to 9 hours. Is that what I should expect?

I remember that when I bought my MacBook Air in 2013, it was the first one advertised to have 12 hours of battery life, but I never got that many. I asked people on the official apple.com forums and almost everyone was claiming to get 12 and even more hours, but nobody even checked it. People were just saying what their "battery remaining" software counter was saying. I stopped asking back then.

But now, as I'm about to get a new Air, I'm raising the question again. How many hours is normal? If it's just 8 hours, is the battery any better than in MacBook Pro?
 

Watchin Macs

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2015
21
3
I actually got a full 12 hours the one day I ran it from 100 to 0% at mid-brightness mainly using preview and Safari.
 

bearinthetown

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2018
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But the mid-brightness looks VERY sad, doesn’t it? The screen is just grey as an autumn day.
 

EugW

macrumors 604
Jun 18, 2017
7,313
4,697
The MacBook Air may not achieve the 12 hours for some people but compared to the MacBook Pro and MacBook, the Air is still decent for battery life. It really depends on the usage profile for "real world" battery life.

Some reviews have it as having shorter battery life than the 2017 MacBook Core m3, but a few have it lasting longer. MacWorld calibrated the MacBook Air 2018 and the MacBook m3 2017 screens both to 150 nits (which is why I'm linking this particular review) and then looped an iTunes movie for repeated playback. The 2018 Air lasted 10.75 hours, while the 2017 MacBook lasted 11.75 hours.

https://www.macworld.com/article/3318566/macs/macbook-air-2018-review.html



But the mid-brightness looks VERY sad, doesn’t it? The screen is just grey as an autumn day.
Depends on the ambient lightning. In a dim room it would be fine. In a bright room it would not. That's why saying "mid-brightness" may not be as objective for a test as actually calibrating the brightness to a specific level.
 
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bearinthetown

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2018
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Doesn't look sad to me? I use my MacBook indoors so mid-brightness is more than enough for me. I never use it at full brightness.
Full brightness is not a next step after mid-way. I never use full neither, but at half of the scale, the screen looks awful to me, like dead. Colors are so dull.
 

Watchin Macs

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2015
21
3
Full brightness is not a next step after mid-way. I never use full neither, but at half of the scale, the screen looks awful to me, like dead. Colors are so dull.
I honestly do not see that. Probably because I do not have an rMBP to compare to.
 

auxbuss

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2014
167
135
UK
I got 14 hours doing mostly writing (in Scrivener), dictionary, and occasional browsing (Safari) and the occasional email check (Airmail 3).

Battery life is entirely dependent on usage.

fwiw, I lose about 10% per hour watching video and, impressively, the machine stays cool, unlike my MBP.

There's nothing miraculous about the MBA. I like it because it ticks my requirements (as a second/spare machine). I do think it's over-priced – I got mine with a 15% discount during Black Friday, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it. The screen and brightness are fine. No, the screen is not as good as the MBP; the specs indicate this; this is not a surprise.
 

Jimmy James

macrumors 601
Oct 26, 2008
4,609
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Magicland
I think it’s funny that OP dismisses battery life watching videos. That’s one of my primary uses for a laptop.

It likely runs cooler because of the chipset. My one concern is that less heat reaches the case because there’s no thermal pathway. Is the chipset actually getting warmer than the case temperature suggests?
 
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ZipZap

macrumors 603
Dec 14, 2007
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I highly doubt that typical use will ever achieve 12 hours. Seems 6 to 8 more likely. Puffery.
 

auxbuss

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2014
167
135
UK
s/Puffery/Reality/

Sorry if it bursts your bubble. I'm no fanboi. As I've said on here, I believe the MBA is overpriced – especially the obscene mark-ups for memory and disk space. I think Apple are playing this all wrong. Although, I understand what the likely internal metrics are that drive this behaviour.

Nope, I reported what I experienced: in one case: 14 hours. This seems to indicate that if you don't use crap apps – or tens of browser tabs running bitcoin miners – then you can expect very respectable battery life.

As an aside, something else I've noted is that the MBA holds charge far better than my MBPs. Overnight, for example, I routinely only lose 1%. So, I can use the MBA like an iPad – which is kind of how I use it; pick up and go.

The MBA – at least, the base MBA – is a cracking little machine that does what Apple claim. Could this or that be better? Of course. ymmv, etc. And, to be clear, it's overpriced (I paid -15%, and I'm okay with that).
 
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bearinthetown

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2018
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Nope, I reported what I experienced: in one case: 14 hours. This seems to indicate that if you don't use crap apps – or tens of browser tabs running bitcoin miners – then you can expect very respectable battery life.
Your post has nothing to do with reality. I don't think most of us here mine bitcoins on the MacBook Air or run tons of tabs. I use my MBA below comfort, setting screen brightness to around 50%, having Bluetooth disabled, keyboard lit disabled, just browsing the web and it still lasts 6 hours.
 

auxbuss

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2014
167
135
UK
Your post has nothing to do with reality. I don't think most of us here mine bitcoins on the MacBook Air or run tons of tabs. I use my MBA below comfort, setting screen brightness to around 50%, having Bluetooth disabled, keyboard lit disabled, just browsing the web and it still lasts 6 hours.
I guess we live in different realities. Here's my current status. I've been working on the MBA all afternoon. Display is ~75%. Bluetooth enabled and in use for n/c headphones. Keyboard backlight on. No funky tweaks.

P.S. Before you cast wild aspersions, perhaps think a little first. As I said, I'm no Apple fanboi, and I believe the MBA is overpriced. It does what it say on the tin, ime.
 

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bearinthetown

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2018
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I guess we live in different realities. Here's my current status. I've been working on the MBA all afternoon. Display is ~75%. Bluetooth enabled and in use for n/c headphones. Keyboard backlight on. No funky tweaks.

P.S. Before you cast wild aspersions, perhaps think a little first. As I said, I'm no Apple fanboi, and I believe the MBA is overpriced. It does what it say on the tin, ime.
WTF, it shows you 81% after 5 hours? How is that even possible? If there are indeed people getting more than 10 hours of battery life, then I guess the battery is just uneven in these macbooks. Well, I will be replacing mine anyway because of the keyboard issues, so we will see. I’m gonna report the battery problem as well.

Which browser are you using?
 

auxbuss

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2014
167
135
UK
WTF, it shows you 81% after 5 hours? How is that even possible? If there are indeed people getting more than 10 hours of battery life, then I guess the battery is just uneven in these macbooks. Well, I will be replacing mine anyway because of the keyboard issues, so we will see. I’m gonna report the battery problem as well.

Which browser are you using?
I use Safari on the MBA.

fyi/fwiw: An hour of video is ~10% for me. I've been rewatching GoT in prep for the new series, and this is pretty consistent. Note that the MBA takes a while to drop below 100%. The battery charge percentage scale is definitely not linear – at least, not at the top end.
 

bearinthetown

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2018
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I use Safari on the MBA.

fyi/fwiw: An hour of video is ~10% for me. I've been rewatching GoT in prep for the new series, and this is pretty consistent. Note that the MBA takes a while to drop below 100%. The battery charge percentage scale is definitely not linear – at least, not at the top end.
I don’t experience this 100% thing at all. Sometimes after charging it all night, taking to my backpack and using a few hours after the charging, it’s already below 100%.

I don’t know buddy, maybe Chrome is the issue? I can try using Safari instead, I guess it’s optimised for macOS. I use Safari on iPhone and iPad, but I prefer Chrome on mac.
 

auxbuss

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2014
167
135
UK
I use Waterfox on my MBP (some extensions I can't let go of from ye olde Firefox days), I keep the MBA fairly stock + my necessary apps.

Aside: What this conversation seems to indicate is that we need better tooling for establishing where battery percentage points are being used. The Energy tab in Activity Monitor is insufficient. In particular, I think we need more insight into what's eating energy/power in our browser of choice.
 

bearinthetown

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2018
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Well, yeah, but I'm not using any of these tools aside from just taking a look at the percentage. If I sit at Starbucks for 3 hours doing stuff and it goes from 100% to 50%, I guess it means something.
 

bearinthetown

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2018
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I'd like to add that when my battery drains so quickly, it also charges up to 100% surprisingly fast. Isn't it a little weird? I thought quick charging was found in old batteries, because of their limited capacity (so one minute of charging charges more percent). I got my MacBook through Apple employee program (I'm not one), so maybe they sell some defected units to the employees on employee discount?
 

Wingzfan61

macrumors regular
Dec 1, 2012
101
84
I don’t know buddy, maybe Chrome is the issue? I can try using Safari instead, I guess it’s optimised for macOS. I use Safari on iPhone and iPad, but I prefer Chrome on mac.
Chrome is a disaster on Mac OS. In my experience it will absolutely eat battery life.
 

MacLawyer

macrumors demi-god
Aug 1, 2009
328
660
U.S.A.
I use mine a couple of ticks below full bright. Looks like I'm getting 6-7 hours watching Netflix videos with the keyboard lights on full blast.