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low battery life i7 macbook air

9097 Views 17 Replies Latest reply: Dec 31, 2011 2:01 AM by Matt Hardy RSS
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Matt Hardy Calculating status...
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Aug 10, 2011 11:38 AM

I've come to the conclusion that the i7 MacBook Air is not a 7hr battery, unless you just use it for doing nothing...


I blame Lion, and specifically this top report may show something...



Processes: 91 total, 2 running, 3 stuck, 86 sleeping, 416 threads      20:30:42

Load Avg: 0.94, 0.74, 0.65  CPU usage: 2.54% user, 3.93% sys, 93.51% idle

SharedLibs: 92M resident, 0B data, 21M linkedit.

MemRegions: 39019 total, 1283M resident, 28M private, 357M shared.

PhysMem: 1216M wired, 1244M active, 287M inactive, 2747M used, 1347M free.

VM: 223G vsize, 1337M framework vsize, 1817588(0) pageins, 190372(0) pageouts.

Networks: packets: 2437552/2187M in, 1967910/427M out.

Disks: 1057295/15G read, 944723/40G written.




See Load, with bascially no CPU procees reported, over 90% free.


See pageins/outs


It's as if everything is consuming more resources and I have not changed my usage at all, text editing, websurfing.


I'd be interested in going back to Snow Leopard and see if it's better on power, at this rate I am really not happy on the train rides...

Power not guaranteed and the 2-2.5 hours i am getting from my brand new i7 is not good enough.


Is the i5 better? Seems to me not so different specs.


Comments welcome.

MacBook Air 13", Mac OS X (10.6.6), 1.86GHz 4GB
  • addisonm Calculating status...
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    Aug 10, 2011 11:55 AM (in response to Matt Hardy)

    I've noticed in general that lion has worse battery life than snow leopard. My dad has the i5 version and typically gets around 4-6 hours.


    Did you install lion on top of snow leopard or did you get it pre-installed on your MBA? I noticed when I installed lion on my mom's MBP that she lost both speed and battery life...I didn't regain some of it until I did a clean install.


    Hope this helps,

  • JasonFear Level 5 Level 5 (4,935 points)
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    Aug 10, 2011 12:20 PM (in response to addisonm)

    The i7 MacBook Air is the new one and would come with Lion preinstalled, without the ability to downgrade to Snow Leopard. The previous MacBook Air (Snow Leopard) was an Intel Core 2 Duo.


    That being said, on wireless with a 50% backlight brightness I got 4 hours while composing a document last night in Word (the only application running) and still had 44% battery life. This was on an i5.

  • msprygada Calculating status...
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    Aug 21, 2011 6:40 AM (in response to Matt Hardy)

    I too will chime in here with awful battery life (July 2011 i7 13"). We have an October 2011 13" and that I am pretty confident that it has 7 hour (or very near 7) battery life but not the new one. I can almost watch the battery percent number click down while I am just light surfing the web. With the older MBA, I wondered most of the time if the battery meter was stuck as it would seem to run for hours before hitting 90%. And coconut is showing only 9 watts when surfing the web. If I was inside the 14 day window, I would return this and get a refurbished 2010 model in a heartbeat.


    Apple needs to fess up and change their 7 hour battery life to something more realistic like 4 or 5 hours for the 13" i7.

  • Onitsuka Tiger Calculating status...
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    Aug 21, 2011 8:47 PM (in response to Matt Hardy)

    Yes definately. I took mine to Apple today to try to figure out the problem. They seem to think 4 hours on this machine is acceptable!


    I was told to keep the brightness below 50% and keep it plugged into the mains. This is ridiculous and Apple need to address the issues with Lion ASAP, if only Apple STAFF WOULD LISTEN to customer complaints.


    I was going to request a replacement battery as I thought I got a dud, but seeing so many people with the same issue, I don't know if it's even worth it.

  • charlesfromnew haven Calculating status...
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    Oct 19, 2011 12:52 AM (in response to Matt Hardy)

    i agree 4.5 hours on a expensive machine. i7 is not acceptable. mba was made to be portable. do not advertise 7hrs of battery life if you are going to use it like an iphone! heck an iphone gets better battery life. i think it's a software issue. it seems like lion is huge stinker and kills battery life.

  • JasonFear Level 5 Level 5 (4,935 points)
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    Oct 19, 2011 4:55 PM (in response to Matt Hardy)

    The problem is: perception


    This frequent remark of "do not advertise 7 hours when it's only 3 hours" is the problem. It's plague car manufacturers for years and people beat up Apple over it. Nowhere in any of the marketing material, anywhere on Apple's site or their printed media does it say: "We guarantee 7 hours or else." Rather that phrase that everyone either chooses to ignore or gloss over is ommitted: "up to."


    The problem is, that's a critical comment of the context. If you get 3 hours off a full charge then you're within specification, because you got greater than 1 minute and less than 7 hours. It's also why they have the disclaimer along the lines of, "your mileage may vary."


    I routinely get 5+ hours of battery life, on WiFi in Lion on my MBA and when people bring me their machines and say they're getting 3 hours I offer to take it for a spin for a day and see if I can get those same 5+ hours in doing the same test conditions. So far every single time I've gotten the 5+ hours.

  • msprygada Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    Oct 19, 2011 6:28 PM (in response to JasonFear)

    Apple should get beat up over it. They should take the high road and advertise a battery life that is achiveable under average user use not barely have the screen on, keyboard light off, one core turned off, etc, etc.


    What bothers me is that I have a 2010 MBA and a 2011 MBA, and the 2010 model will go an honest 6 to 7 hours. but the 2011 will no where match that. All Apple had to do was say something like 6 hours and most people like me probibly would have not said anything. But this now has the perception of Apple trying to slip one past us....very shady for Apple.

  • Onitsuka Tiger Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 19, 2011 11:04 PM (in response to JasonFear)

    JasonFear, i would like to think that most people complaining about this issue are familiar enough with technology or cars so as to not confuse the problem with a marketing claim. I am aware that you wouldn't get the petrol mileage claimed for a car or the battery life claimed by any multitude of major companies for their electrical portable products - but an Apple 'Genius' has talked down to me using almost the same words. You mentioned elsewhere you are running an i5, and you also mentioned you attained 5hours. Some of us here barely attained 4 hours on minimal usage - and we are talking real world usage - not diagnostic tools. I ran my own test, directly after the Apple Genius ran his. He claimed 6 hours - much closer to the manufacturers claim of 7 hours usage. I monitored my usage minute by minute from the time I switched the laptop on to the time it died. I got 4hrs 37minutes - on minimal Safari surfing (no flash usage), with minimal brightness, and simply writing a Pages document. This is simply too far away from the claim, and was the best I'd gotten out of the 2-week old machine. At the end of 2 weeks, it had gone through 7 recharge cycles. Seven! In two weeks of using it after work for a few hours? Something not right I would presume!

    After really forcing the issue with Apple, they finally replaced my i7 MBA with a new i7. I didn't give them a choice. I got a newly assembled unit, thankfully. So far it runs fine, and nowhere near as inconsist with the odd battery behaviour and life of the old (despite re-calibrations!). I'm glad I did that, but certainly not glad about the reluctance and poor attitude of the Genius representatives I dealt with - some of whom were quite high and mighty and difficult to deal with.

  • JasonFear Level 5 Level 5 (4,935 points)
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    Oct 19, 2011 11:16 PM (in response to Matt Hardy)

    Onitsuka, you'd like to think that but the simple fact of the matter is that's not the case. I've been on both sides of the Genius Bar, I've been on both sides of the phone at AppleCare and the tens of thousands people I've helped with Apple products over my years all don't know.


    Take msprygarda's response:


    "All Apple had to do was say something like 6 hours and most people like me probibly would have not said anything."


    I've been coming to Apple Discussions for over 5 years now and every time a new model comes out and the battery life claim goes up these same threads pop up. Heck, who can forget the 10 hour claim on the MacBook Pro, the MBP forum was in a thunderous rage over how far fetched that was on a daily basis. Marketing is the way it is, we all know that. I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience with the 'Genius' (I always laugh when people put that in quotes), you should address your complaint to their manager. Did you? There was no mention of that in your previous remark.


    Also my 5+ hours was not running diagnostic tools (still trying to figure out where I said that in my previous comment, but can't find it). My tests are the same ones done by Apple that are explained right on their website:


    Testing conducted by Apple in July 2011 using preproduction 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5–based 13-inch MacBook Air units. The wireless web test measures battery life by wirelessly browsing 25 popular websites with display brightness set to 50%.


    I'm glad you got a new machine. Perhaps you can share your experiences in the multitude of other threads on this exact topic now. There's plenty on the first page alone to pick from!

  • msprygada Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    Oct 20, 2011 4:21 AM (in response to JasonFear)

    You keep missing my point here. I could care less what test you run to achieve what results. Yah, I am sure that some Apple engineer can run a test a certain way and achieve 7 hours on the 2010 MBA but there is no way he is going to run the exact same test on the 2011 MBA and archive the same runtimes. The 2011 MBA is definitely using more power to run the same workload and the fact that the battery was not increased is size would reflect those results.


    I am saying that if you take a 2010 MBA and a 2011 MBA and run the same test side by side, that the 2011 model will not run as long and Apple should have reflected that in their specs of the new MBA. It is nothing more complicated than that. It has nothing to do with perception, it has to do with reality.


    But now my perception is that I will take any further Apple product runtimes with a grain a salt and chop off 20% right off the top and use that as my runtime expectation.

  • JasonFear Level 5 Level 5 (4,935 points)
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    Oct 20, 2011 1:51 PM (in response to msprygada)



    I didn't miss your point. But when it starts off with the remark (as quoted below) it's truthfully hard to take whatever follows as a legitimate point.


    "advertise a battery life that is achiveable under average user use not barely have the screen on, keyboard light off, one core turned off, etc, etc."


    You took one extreme and made it worse. Really? Do you typically run your machine off one core? Besides, Apple claimed that the battery life on the 2010 was longer than most people got and that unit didn't have a backlit keyboard. So does that mean I should only run that one in ambient temperature less than 72 degrees Fahrenheit? See how extremes just make the point silly?


    Seeing as you could careless as to what tests I run, perhaps you're just here to troll the topic, I figured I would actually "contribute" to the discussion versus this perceived reality remark. You'll obviously under no obligation to acknowledge the results I got, as you could careless anyway.


    I took two machines this morning after reading msprygada's insightful remarks and imaged them with Lion @ 10.7.2. I then put the same 14GB iTunes Library on each machine, the same 11 iWork documents and configured the same iCloud, Exchange and GMail (IMAP) account on both of them.


    They were both connected to the same WPA2-Enterprise network, both had their display back light set to 50% and their sound set to about 25% (5 bubbles). In the interest of fairness I turned off the backlit keyboard on the newer MBA.


    Both machines had a full charge, the Late '10 model (1.86GHz/128/4) had a full charge capacity registering at 6352 mAh with 68 cycles. The Mid '11 model (i5 @ 1.7GHz/128/4) had a full charge capacity of 6472 mAh with 23 cycles.


    The "test" environment was running iTunes playlists that had enough content to run for 5 hours worth of music without any interaction. In addition I'd be navigating the following websites, which would constantly be open in Safari (5.1.1) and most likely running Adobe Flash Player.







    - Apple Support Communities






    Because I can't navigate both computers, identically, at the same time I was going to do 10 minutes on one and then 10 minutes on other (alternating). I set the display sleep for 15 minutes and the machine sleep for 15 minutes so that the machines would never fall asleep when I was switching back and forth.


    I'd also take an hour or so of time to work on one of the 11 documents, but I mainly had Pages running to increase load.


    Machine #1 - 13" MBA (1.86GHz/128GB/4GB)

    Machine #2 - 13" MBA (1.7GHz/128GB/4GB)


    Reserve power notification:

    #1 - 5 hours, 22 minutes

    #2 - 5 hours, 48 minutes


    No doubt I could have easily beaten 6 hours if I didn't install flash player, which considering it's a 3rd party plugin you'd have to assume that Apple doesn't have installed on their test machines when they publish marketing numbers. Something that most people do not realize, because it's one of the first plugins they install.


    If you need me to do more "Apple Engineer" type testing, I can carve out some time next week. Or just take my numbers and multiple by .20

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