Hey Apple, it’s time to give up thinness for bigger, longer-lasting batteries

“Apple has a problem with batteries. In fact, the problem is so serious that the company had to make a radical decision in the latest update of macOS: they removed the battery time indicator,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Macworld. “This appeared when you clicked the Battery menu extra in your menu bar, and it displayed an estimate of how much battery time was remaining on your laptop. Apple claimed this was removed because it was inaccurate; yet that indicator had been present on OS X for as long as I remember.”

“What suddenly made it inaccurate? The fact that many users are seeing far less than the 10 hours of battery life that Apple advertises with the new MacBook Pro?” McElhearn writes. “It wasn’t just Consumer Reports that saw this problem; lots of users and reviewers have seen it as well.”

“Perhaps instead of removing the battery time indicator, Apple could work harder at designing computers that can last a full day for real users, not just in tests designed to meet specifications that they can use for marketing,” McElhearn writes. “Sure, that may mean a slightly thicker laptop (or iPhone or iPad) but I think more users care about battery life today than they do about thinness.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote over a year ago:

What’d be wrong with slightly thicker iPhone with more battery life and a flush camera assembly?

Yes, we know Apple thinks thinness sets iPhone apart from all other so-called smartphones (actually, it’s the operating system, the software and the ecosystem), but the iPhone 6/Plus and iPhone 6s/Plus are simply too thin to house their camera assembly.

iPhone 6s is 0.28 inch (7.1 mm) thin. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 is 0.27 inch (6.8 mm). The “thicker” iPhone 6s easily outsells the thinner Galaxy S6. Obviously, at this point, the selling point of “thinness” is overrated.

iPhone 6 and 6s has battery life issues for heavy iPhone users (hint: get an Apple Watch. You’ll use your iPhone less and the battery will easily outlast even the longest day).

The law of diminishing returns can also be applied to industrial design. Apple’s eternal quest for thinness eventually runs into issues such as bulging camera assemblies, battery capacity, strength (breakability), etc. – is Apple’s quest for thinness now bordering on the quixotic?

So, is it “you can never be too thin” or is it “thin enough is thin enough?”

Open thread: What’d be wrong with slightly thicker iPhone with more battery life and a flush camera assembly? – December 21, 2015


  1. It won’t happen. Apple is about style over function.

    If Ives could, and if square tires look cooler than round ones, we would have square tires. That’s the Apple way.

      1. Why, because watches are supposed to be round? What a stupid comment. Not calling you stupid, by any means… just that whether you like the style of the Apple Watch is one of personal preference… Having a preconceived notion that watches need to be round to be stylish is a little narrow… Who moved my cheese? IMO, I prefer the shape of the Apple Watch to other watches I’ve worn

            1. You’re not exactly thinking outside the box either.

              Look, Apple’s Watch is ugly and not particularly user friendly. It promises to do all things, more versatile than most, but it fails because it does nothing super well.

              The people who bought the AW bought it for only one of two reasons:
              1) They assumed it would work seamlessly in the Apple ecosystem. (It doesn’t, because iCloud is a pain in the ass and all the data sharing that one would want requires you to be able to use 3rd party or multi-platform solutions. Example: Apple Watch has no way to share your workout data with your team trainer unless he has a Mac. Good luck with that.

              2) People thought the Apple Watch would be all the things Dick Tracy enjoyed. Nope. It’s just a scroll wheel iPod shrunk to fit your wrist.

              Meanwhile, other companies are just concentrating on modest capabilities at affordable prices — and they also know that people want attractive jewelry. Like this:

        1. The round watchface is probably due the to traditional watches’ hands rotating in a circle. If the UI for a watch were anything else the form would fit that function. Smartwatches are not physically limited in how to display time and if Apple feels a square face is preferable, perhaps they would be best served by thinking up a new type of Watch UI that looks great for square vs round faces.

    1. Apple has always been in the business of making bold claims about their products that we’re ultimately proven to be false.

      Battery life being one of them and perhaps the most disingenuous of all is their claim that their products are the most secure!

      And there are many more of course.

      Apple is all about marketing.

      With Apple products, it’s not about what you buy it’s really about what you believe (or being told to believe by Apple and their media sycophants) you’re buying!

      Apple is a myth.

    1. Apple could offer a battery option that is user servicable.

      Unscrew the bottom cover & screw on an Apple cover that is thicker with a larger battery on it.

      More than one way to achieve larger charge.

  2. There are regulations in the US that prevent batteries bigger than 80 w/h (?) to go inside a commercial plane. So if the processor is more eficient and you have a limit to the capacity of your battery, why not make it thinner? Goggle it.

    1. Good point. The limit as per the FAA is 99 watt hours per battery at maximum size in checked baggage, so it can’t be much larger. 79 watt hours seems to be the accepted max size for carryone baggage as well, it also limits the total weight of the device. Now if they can figure a way to increase density of the battery in the same size, so that it’s rating increases without increasing weight, then I’m all for it. I like the weight of my new 15″, it is much easier to carry around, and I’ll take the weight reduction over bigger batteries. That said after the 10.12.2 update I am seeing the rated 9 hours on average, as per battery health. I’m convinced that most people seeing battery issues are due to software conflicts from migration or background apps like creative cloud that was killing mine. After a delete and reinstall it’s all good. The battery life indicator wasn’t really that accurate to begin with, and battery health is free on the App Store and much more accurate, so just download that for run time estimates.

      1. That’s rich. All those apps that give you a time estimate use the same internal info. You can see the estimate by running this command in Terminal:

        pmset -g batt

        1. My point is that while those apps do use the internal info, the GUI version in system preferences was always wrong with what it displayed. Whether that was a coding mistake or something I don’t know. But I do know that battery health is always right with regards to run time and the built in % monitor was always right, but the run time estimate was always off kilter.

            1. They do not. That’s the point, they may be reading the same information but for whatever reason the built in run time estimate always displayed incorrectly. Happened on my 2012 mbp right after the 10.12.1 update also, so obviously a software issue.

    2. Apple isn’t anywhere near the FAA threshold.

      12″ MacBook: 39.7 watt-hour
      13″ MacBook Air: 54 watt-hour
      13″ MacBook Pro: 54.5 watt-hour
      13″ MacBook Pro Touchbar: 49.2 watt-hour
      15″ MacBook Pro Touchbar: 76 watt-hour

      As you can see, Apple could increase its battery capacity 25″ or more and remain within FAA regulations. It would go a long way to remaining in its customers good graces too.

      1. You never got back to me about the Alienware i ordered yesterday… please let me know if the order was correct, as I still have time to change anything. Again; it does not have he specs you quoted because they didn’t exist on the order page…

            1. Ok, changed it. Final config:

              7820 processor,

              Gtx 1070 8gb

              16gb ram

              1tb pci-e ssd + 1tb 7200rpm hdd (still did not give me the option of dual m.2 ssd’s)

              Display is 1920×1080 TN panel (did not give me an option for any other display)

              But will try with new processor. Ty

        1. Who cares about weight? Battery life directly impacts everyone, it determines whether you have to tote along your charger around with you. Years ago I could forgive Apple for getting less than a day on a device. But now batteries are better, and what does Apple do but REDUCE battery life so Jony can hack off another mm thickness. Not acceptable at all. The article is totally right.

      2. The 15″ is pretty close.
        And to put a battery the size of the 15″ into the 13″ would perhaps make it almost as heavy as the 15″ would that be acceptable? Would it anger users?

  3. Yep, the new MacBook Pro is a disaster I’m getting 5 1/2 hours of battery life using it for basic Internet searching and occasional iTunes music playing. I’m returning it but it’s a damn shame. 2016 is a bust the only thing I will say is I do like the new AirPods they seem to work very well I’ve had mine a few days

    1. Did you do a migration of an old system? Check activity monitor and see what’s running… I had to delete creative cloud and a few other things and re install them before it improved after the update.

      1. Sadly, I did not. I set it up as a new machine after reading some comments on MDN and responses to those comments. I didn’t want to take the chance of having an issue. I’m so frustrated because it is a darn nice machine. I sold my MacBook 12″ that I’ve had for a little over a year.. I couldn’t get use to the keyboard quite honestly.. I loved the size and the weight but I didn’t find the keyboard to be positive. Oh well, I have an iMac so this was just a toy I’ll wait until the next iteration and see if Apple takes note and does something about this battery dilemma. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Amen to this – I’d happily take a thicker phone so the battery lasts longer… My iPhone 6 barely lasts a day so I’ve had to buy a Smart Case.

    Apple really does have a battery problem and their obsession with thinness is worrying.

  5. Not just Phones!

    I’d happily have a fatter iMac with desktop level processor 6-8 core with desktop level GPU or even 2 GPUs.

    I love my iMac 5k but its thinness is irrelevant to me, give me more power with this stunning screen and I’m a happy camper.

    Jonny Ive is a one trick pony and the sticky out camera shows his limitations as a designer. Braun would never do that!.

  6. Good luck getting anyone at Apple to listen to its consumers! What do we know? After all, we’re the ones using the Mac! Doesn’t matter to me. After being an Apple loyalist since the mid-1980s, I’ve purchased as Asus laptop: 7th generation i7 processor, 16 Gbs of memory, 1 Tb SSD – all with blazing faster performance and half the price of a MacBook Pro. The best part of Windows 10: No stupid yearly updates which destroy existing or 3rd party apps! And for Apple fans who think Windows 10 is a bust: Try it! You’ll be surprised. Windows 10 takes a number of Apple related apps and features and improves them, as well as provides something Apple has rarely shared with Mac users ~ Help with actual information that’s useful. Good luck with Tim Cook, who thinks the iPad – with no ports – is going to replace a computer. Not in my lifetime.

      1. Worse – FORCED updates that will interrupt whatever it is you are doing. I’ve had it kill a days-long rendering job twice overnight when I wasn’t around to monitor it. Absolutely the single most obnoxious thing I have ever seen on a computer.

      2. So far it hasn’t happened to me. But it is relatively early.

        Windows 10 is easier, but still not easy to use however it allows you to use all the powerful hardware you need for work. And all the powerful applications I installed run very well.

        So witch company is closer to produce a powerful, flexible and friendly system?
        Apple has friendly on their side
        Microsoft, has the flexibility and the top powerful hardware

        But with all the whining attitude from Apple not making enough money from the Mac, that it is a shrinking business, and now their very top features like the 10 hour battery not working right I think Microsoft may be closer to create a friendly system. But is up to Apple to open their minds and hearts, be more flexible, support top hardware and create user serviceable machines.

  7. This is coming from someone who recently purchased the MacBook Pro 15″ 2016 fully loaded….

    The battery life is ok for mild stuff like working on a word doc or surfing the Internet….

    Now when I actually do my real work which is music production on Logic Pro X, I go from a fully charged battery to almost dead in 2.5 hours.

    This is with my screen on half brightness, and all of my other apps turned off like safari and mail.

    Sorry Apple, but for my real work, I would rather have a slightly thicker laptop that has better battery life then the stuff you gave me this generation.

    I might be the minority, but I’m starting to kind of get sick of the ultra thinness that Apple keeps going especially when it comes to giving up more battery life.

    1. You are doing pro music work on a laptop, on the move, away from a power outlet? With a demanding product as Logic ProX, get 2.5 hours of work out of it, and are complaining about what exactly?

      1. Here, have a 1 star rating…

        I mean I am told by Apple that I can get up to 10 hours of battery life on my state of the art “pro” device and I get 1/4 of that isn’t much to get excited about. Maybe half of that, which is 5 hours, I would be ok with that.

        The reality is this, if Microsoft pulled this sort of stunt, then this forum would be attaching them left and right…

        Maybe, just maybe, Apple isn’t making great choices as often as they did before.

        I have to admit, Apple appears to have lost its concern for quality like it used to have…that’s just my opinion for what it’s worth.

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