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It's all about the battery life, baby

It's all about the battery life, baby

At WWDC this year, Apple introduced revamped MacBook Airs with incredibly impressive battery life. On the the 11-inch model, battery life went up from five hours to nine hours while battery life on the 13-inch model went up from seven hours to 12 hours.

Battery life isn't exactly the sexiest of specs, but it's undoubtedly one of the most important things to consider when purchasing any new device. With the new MacBook Airs, Apple has demonstrated, yet again, a deep commitment to the user experience that will inevitably leave competitors scrambling to play catch-up.

If a device runs out of juice, it's useless. Pure and simple. To that end, Apple has not only shown a ongoing commitment to improve battery life on its products, but also a rare reluctance to implement new features that have an adverse effect on battery life.

The most obvious example, of course, has been Apple's refusal to follow in the footsteps of Samsung and release an iPhone with a ginormous 4.7-inch screen.

Tim Cook and other Apple executives have said on a number of occassions that one of the reasons Apple hasn't released a larger screened iPhone is because doing so would have a discernable effect on battery life.

What's more, when Apple does add a new feature to a device, such as when it introduced the Retina display iPad, it ensures that battery life does not take noticeable hit as a result.

Put simply, battery life matters. A lot.

Processing power and screen size may be the type of specs that attract the most attention these days, but as computing continues to become increasingly mobile, it's about time we start paying more attention to battery life.

To that end, Ben Bajarin over at Techpinions has an interesting and insightful take on battery life and the new role it may take on in the tech marketplace.

The raging question throughout the PC industry has been "what is going to get consumers to upgrade their PCs?" The answer is iPad-like battery life.

...

At one point in time when a company released a new PC, they proudly announced how much processing power it had, and the crowd would applaud. At WWDC last week when Apple discussed the MacBook Air, the crowd did not cheer or applaud when they announced the speed of the processor. Instead, the crowd went wild when they announced the new metrics for battery life.

...

Apple has set the bar high with these new battery benchmarks. All PC makers are making progress in this area and the new processors from Intel and AMD will help push this needle forward.

One thing I will be watching very closely with the fall lineup is the battery life claims from all the new notebooks. I am convinced this is the feature-of-all-features for the PC industry this year.

As a quick little comparison, I checked out the top four non-Apple laptops on Amazon and took a look at their battery life. Here's how the competition stacks up today.

  1. The 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook touts 6.5 hours of battery life.
  2. The 15.6-inch Asus K55N-DS81 laptop has 5.5 hours of battery life.
  3. A 15.6-inch Dell Inspiron laptop touts about 4 hours of battery life.
  4. A 15.6-inch HP Pavillion shockingly doesn't seem to have any official spec regarding battery life, at least not on Amazon. Checking the same machine on Staples, however, reveals that the machine has a battery life of up to 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Again, the 13-inch MacBook Air sports upwards of 12 hours of battery life. All of a sudden, battery life is looking a lot sexier than ever before.

And if you think the 12-hour figure cited by Apple can only be achieved by running the machine on the lowest brightness setting and casually checking email once every four hours, think again.

Initial reviews of Apple's new MacBook Airs have had nothing but overwhelming praise for their battery life.

Here's a quick sampling.

Engadget:

Our standard rundown test, as it happens, also entails playing video and last year's machine managed just over six and a half hours before expiring. We were, then, skeptical that this new edition could manage nearly twice that longevity -- but it actually did better. This year's Air survived 12 hours and 51 minutes on a charge. That's a stunning number from a laptop this thin, achieved with WiFi enabled and without any external batteries.

Wired:

But with the 2013 edition of the 13-inch MacBook Air, concern over battery life is now just laughable. I've been testing Apple's newest ultraportable laptop for a couple of weeks, and I can routinely get through a full 8 to 12-hour workday without a boost, and with battery to spare. Heck, I went an entire Netflix-filled weekend without needing to plug it in once. Where the mid-2012 model got a very respectable 7 hours of battery life, the 2013 model is spec'd at a full 12 hours. It delivers on that promise, and then some. I can forget the charger at home or at work and totally not stress about it.

The Verge:

13 hours and 29 minutes. That's all you really need to know - that's how long the new MacBook Air running Safari lasted running The Verge Battery Test, which cycles through a series of websites and images at 65 percent brightness.

9to5Mac:

We don't have a specific process to test battery life, because more often than not, you'll get artificial results that aren't relatable to real-world usage. So, to test the battery life on the 2013 Air, we just used it. It's as simple as that. We worked on it and we played on it. We started using it about 12PM and wrote, watched a few YouTube videos, checked Twitter with Tweetbot for Mac, and much more.

By about 1AM it was down to about 5% battery remaining and it died shortly there after. That equals out to a little over 13 hours, a tad above what Apple claimed. We had the screen set on 75% brightness and the keyboard backlight on towards the end of the day. Keep in mind this is real-word usage, so there were bits and pieces of time throughout the day when it wasn't being used, as we had to do things like eat lunch, but for the better part of the day, there was at least Spotify streaming music.

With the new MacBook Airs, it's all about the battery life.

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