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What is the "real-world" battery life of the "Mid-2012" 13-Inch and 15-Inch MacBook Pro models?
Apple's official battery life estimate for all of the non-Retina Display "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro models -- the MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.5 13-Inch, "Core i7" 2.9 13-Inch, "Core i7" 2.3 15-Inch, and "Core i7" 2.6 15-Inch -- is "up to seven hours" in "wireless web" use, regardless of display size.
The 13-Inch models have an integrated 63.5-watt-hour battery and the 15-Inch models have an integrated 77.5-watt-hour battery. Neither is intended to be replaced by the end user.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Left - 13" MacBook Pro, Right - 15" MacBook Pro)
Official Battery Life Testing Criteria
In fine print, Apple explains that battery life estimates were determined using preproduction versions of the stock configurations. The company specifies that the "wireless web test measures battery life by wirelessly browsing 25 popular websites with display brightness set to 50%." and also disclaims that "battery life varies by use and configuration."
In recent years, Apple's official battery life numbers have been reasonable, but as readers still ask, third-party objective test results still may be of interest.
Third-Party Battery Life Test Results
Independent testing methodologies vary and can provide a solid idea of the battery life performance in different usage scenarios.
We found battery life in the same ballpark throughout the new models, with fairly negligible variations. All the new laptops topped five hours of continuous use, with the 13-inch 2.5 GHz model besting all other new models at 5 hours and 47 minutes.
The bottom of the line 15-inch MacBook Pro came in second place in battery life at 5 hours and 38 minutes. The poorest battery performance came from the 13-inch model with the i7 processor. It lasted only 5 hours and 3 minutes.
Battery life is pretty solid -- we got a bit over 7 hours in our light web browsing test (with dynamic GPU switching on), a hair over 6 with dynamic GPU switching off (forcing the GPU to stay on), close to 5.5 hours in our medium-heavy browsing workload, and a bit over 2 hours in our brutal, heavy use case test (which adds a 1 MB/s file transfer and a looping 1080p video to our heavy browsing test). Apple quotes 7 hours of "normal" use, and that's about right based on my standard usage.
Battery Life Summary
Ultimately, Apple's battery life numbers for the "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro models are a realistic estimate of what one can expect in the "real-world" for light use. However, battery life will vary depending on use and those performing more demanding tasks should not expect runtime as long as the official numbers.