Apple devices are known for many things: the "it just works" ethos, aesthetic beauty, closed software ecosystems, and of course, premium price tags. One area where they usually only perform quite well is in battery life.
Laptops that have long battery life on their feature lists include the Microsoft Surface Book 2 and the HP Specter Folio. Just because these laptops can last longer on a single charge doesn't mean MacBooks are terrible.
If you know which MacBook to choose and need to configure it accordingly, you can extend the battery life for a full work day or play on a number of Apple notebooks.
Other MacBook guides
Riley Young / Digital Trends
Apple's MacBook Air has always been designed to be a slim, lightweight MacBook option where portability and aesthetics take precedence over other aspects like performance. However, in the current MacBook lineup, it has proven to be the most durable, both by specifications and our own tests.
When Apple updated the MacBook Air in March 2020, it updated the processor to 10th generation Intel Core CPUs. These chips made the MacBook Air not only more powerful, but also more conservative in power consumption. The Air comes with a 49.9 watt hour battery, but how does that work when tested?
Apple claims you can get 12 hours of Apple TV movie playback. In our MacBook Air review, we found that the modern MacBook Air can loop 1080p video for 10 hours – about eight hours while browsing the web.
You may be able to take this further by keeping the screen brightness low and background applications to a minimum. Configuration options are limited, but sticking to smaller capacities and storage offers a tiny benefit for extending battery life.
Apple also recommends keeping your device updated and avoiding extreme ambient temperatures when using your MacBook Air.
MacBook Pro 16 inches
In Apple's MacBook Pro range, you'll find the real strength and performance of all kinds of hardware options for those who need more grunts for their macOS tasks. With MacBooks, battery life isn't bad either, but you should choose specific models and consider your configuration to get the most out of them.
When Apple launched the MacBook Pro 16, it promised the largest battery of any MacBook – a 100-watt-hour monster, in fact. According to Apple, you have an additional hour of battery life compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro and can surf the Internet or watch Apple TV videos for 11 hours.
This may pique your interest, but the reality is that it's not that easy to say that a larger battery equals longer battery life. The MacBook Pro 16 contains much more powerful components than its smaller 13-inch sibling, which helps to reduce battery life.
In our tests, the MacBook Pro 16 lasted around five and a half hours in our regular daily workload that included running dozens of tabs, streaming music on Spotify, and using Slack. This is disappointing given Apple's promised 11-hour battery life. But it's not too surprising, given the MacBook Pro 16's higher resolution and beefier components under the hood.
However, your mileage may vary, especially when specifying the MacBook Pro 16 for battery life. If you choose the Core i7 processor instead of the Core i9, or opt for a slightly lower graphics card, you can extend the battery life.
However, when you need more powerful components, seeing how battery life degrades is a tradeoff.
MacBook Pro 13 inch (2019)
The 13-inch MacBook Pro Made it over 10 hours in our video loop test when equipped with a Core i5 processor. In theory, it could take a full working day to complete regular office tasks. Our estimate is in line with the 10 hours Apple should get, according to the Pro. It's a great option to check out if you want reliable battery life.
Interestingly, the MacBook Pro 13 has a 58 watt hour or 58.2 watt hour battery depending on the configuration. In comparison, the MacBook Pro 16 has a larger 100-watt-hour battery.
While the 13-inch model has a smaller battery, it can rival the MacBook Pro 16 for long life. Although the Pro 16 has a battery with a higher capacity, it also has more robust components that consume energy. While battery size is a measure of performance, it helps to look at the bigger picture.
The MacBook Pro 13 is also much cheaper than the 16-inch model. The smaller version starts at $ 1,299 and the 16-inch model starts at $ 2,399. As we have confirmed in ours MacBook Pro 16 review: The battery is 16% larger, but does not last 16% longer. In addition, the price is significantly more than 16% higher.