Consumer Reports has a spotty history with calling Apple out on product flaws. They’re usually written overly sensationally, and they often overstate the importance of minor issues.
But almost every time, the problem they’re reporting is real — especially in retrospect, after everyone’s defensiveness has passed and we’ve lived with the products for a while. It’s just debatable how big of a deal it is in practice.
The iPhone 4 antenna design really was flawed. The iPad 3 really did get uncomfortably warm. And the 2016 MacBook Pro really did have poor, inconsistent battery life in their test.
Apple’s framing here is almost Trumpian, evading responsibility for the real problem — Apple’s bug — by attempting to insult the test (“does not reflect real-world usage”), discredit and imply malice by Consumer Reports (“a hidden setting”), and disregard the bug as irrelevant (“obscure and intermittent bug”).
The real story here is that Consumer Reports did get very poor and inconsistent results from their battery test, which was a reasonable and valid test, due to a real bug in Apple’s web browser.
With the bug now fixed (in beta, at least), the MacBook Pros deserve a retest, and Consumer Reports is conducting one.
But their previous results were real, and Apple’s bug was to blame.