MacBook Air 2010 11″ and 13″ Battery Life Better Than Advertised

Oct 30, 2010 - 18 Comments

new macbook air battery real world tests

If you’re a writer, student, or blogger, the new MacBook Air might be your portable dream machine. For low CPU intensive tasks, the lightweight notebook boasts a battery life that is significantly better than the advertised time of 5 to 7 hours. AnandTech did some extensive reviews of the new MacBook Air and found the battery to last a staggering 7 to 11.2 hours for the 11″ MacBook Air and 13″ 2010 models respectively:

As glorified typewriters, you can’t beat the battery life offered by the MacBook Air. Light web browsing, document creation and music playback have minimal impact on the Air’s battery life. In fact, we actually beat Apple’s battery life claims in our light tests. The 11-inch Air delivers nearly 7 hours on a single charge and the 13-inch managed 11.2 hours. For a writer, you can’t do better than this.

The results were found with screen brightness at 50%, connected to WiFi, playing an MP3 in iTunes, and with no Flash player loaded while browsing the web. Here’s the chart of the new Air against other MacBook and MacBook Pro models:

light browsing new macbook air battery life

Apparently the addition of the Flash plugin is what really makes a difference. AnandTech then reviewed the new MacBook Air with Safari browsing around with Flash player enabled and running on a web page, and found battery life is reduced to 4 to 5 hours for the 11″ and 13″ models. No wonder Apple stopped shipping Flash with new Macs.

Based on the above findings, here’s my suggestion: If you’re going to get a new 2010 MacBook Air 11″ or 13″ model, I would strongly recommend installing the latest version of Flash but then using something like ClickToFlash to prevent Flash from automatically loading, this should provide a generous boost in battery life since it lets you choose when Flash loads on a webpage.

Here’s the AnandTech chart of ‘worst case scenario’ battery life for the new Air. This includes browsing the web with multiple Safari windows open all with Flash running, plus playing an XviD movie, and while downloading multiple files. In this test the new MacBook Air performed at a rather average level:

macbook air 2010 battery life worst case

For comparisons sake, this is the 2010 MacBook Air battery claims from Apple:
new macbook air battery life apple

From reading various reviews and reports on battery life, it looks like Apple averages usage situations to arrive at the 5-7 hour measurement. The good news is that it’s a pretty accurate claim for the average user. The better news is that if you’re light with your battery and CPU usage, you can squeeze out much longer battery life.

I like real-world battery tests and I think AnandTech does a pretty good job of capturing what you would expect in real world usage. You can read the full AnandTech review here.

If you’re in the market, you can grab the new MacBook Air 11.6″ and MacBook Air 13″ from Amazon or the Apple Store.


Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in Mac, News


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  1. BOB! says:

    My laptop a Macbook air 13″ only has 2hrs and by the end of the school day (6hrs) i have nothing left. All i do is do typical classroom activities like typing and researching, does anyone know why?

    P.S. I think it advertised as 7hrs battery life

  2. zorkor says:

    It’s quite funny and amusing to see so many Apple fan boys scares of flash. Me being a PC guy love to watch flash videos all the time. This what makes my PC purchase worth to so whatever I want instead
    Of blocking everything and boast around of having more battery life.

    I might get an iMac and on the portable side, I will keep using my Windows 7 laptop. :)

  3. Paul says:

    My 11″ MBA battery has 60 cycles and about 96% health. It only lasts about 2 hours using MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, and that’s if I dim the screen and turn off the bluetooth and wifi. If I watch multiple streaming videos on Firefox, it only lasts like 45 minutes. I’m really disappointed. For all of you with short battery life, how many cycles do you have?

  4. Denver says:

    How long does the battery life last when running windows via bootcamp and doing programing for say android or ms in vis studio?

  5. […] your battery life, like Flash in an inactive browser tab. I’ve been trying to achieve the 7 hour battery life but so far the highest I can hit on this MacBook Air is about 5 hours with light […]

  6. Armando says:

    installed Flash and boy was that a mistake on it’s own, immediately lost an hour of battery life on the web. Get Flashblocker and you get that time back.

    I average 4-6 hours with mild use

  7. Not certain how the tests were done but my “real world” tests on a 13″ MBA showed about 4.5 hours in OS X with four applications running (Safari, Excel, iTunes, Chrome) and a little over 5 hours in Windows 7 on the same machine with the same applications (note, reconfigured for solid state memory). I do not doubt you could limit what you are doing to get more than 7 hours, but I would not plan on seeing 11 hours of battery life unless you are not doing much web traffic and avoiding all CPU intensive tasks.

  8. Jenmenke says:

    I got only 4 Hrs working on indesign and safari/wordpress. I’m wondering if migration assistant brought flash over from MBP and that’s why. Didn’t realize about flash. I was bummed to see battery draining so quickly. Now I’ll have some things to test. Thanks

  9. lvl86 says:

    I get about 2 hour battery life playing world of warcraft. Does any1 know if that is right or should i get more battery life?

  10. […] so small… including the battery. Note that the 13" MBA on the other hand has very impressive battery life. Cheers, -Michl Reply With Quote […]

  11. […] so small… including the battery. Note that the 13" MBA on the other hand has very impressive battery life. Cheers, -Michl Reply With Quote   + Reply to […]

  12. […] las 6 horas de autonomía, pero es que en algunas pruebas parece que los MacBook Air de 13 pulgadas pueden llegar a las 11 horas de […]

  13. mificlub says:

    i only got like 2 hours using aperture on the highest spec 13in air…

  14. very impressive indeed.

  15. isn’t that just the risk of running more apps? try turning off ur wifi (and every other app ur running for that matter). i’m sure the battery will last a lot longer..

  16. arya says:

    A additional tip for browsing (beside using ClickToFlash):
    use YouTube5 safari extension

    This extension will automatically load html5 videos on youtube. And surprisingly, i found that all the youtube videos i watched (directly on youtube or tagged on a webpage) were all in html5.
    And the battery still performed well (mid2010 15″ MBP). At least not as bad as using the flash

  17. Curt says:

    I have the 11.6″ model and it lasts much longer than the Asus netbook it replaced. I’m quite happy with it.

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