Consumer Reports‘ iPad Battery Claims Don’t Check Out with Us

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Consumer Reports made itself the center of the tech world’s attention this week by claiming that Apple’s new iPad reached temperatures of 116 degrees Fahrenheit while playing games. But the group also made another claim that received less attention — that even when the iPad is plugged in to a power source, its battery depletes during power-intensive gaming.

I don’t own a thermal camera, so I can’t test Consumer Reports‘ iPad temperature claims, but as the owner of a third-generation iPad, I checked out the group’s claims about battery life. So far, I haven’t been able to duplicate the battery drain issue on the new iPad.

(MORE: Heat Test: New iPad Is Hotter to Handle by 10 Degrees)

Here’s what Consumer Reports‘ Donna Tapellini wrote in a blog post on Tuesday:

We also noticed that the new iPad wasn’t charging while the game was running and it was plugged in. In fact, the battery continued to drain. It charged normally, however, when we weren’t running a game.

For clarification, I reached out to Consumer Reports‘ public relations department. They told me that in testing, the iPad was plugged into an outlet using the included wall charger. The display was running at full brightness, with Wi-Fi on and 4G off.

I own a Wi-Fi iPad, so maybe 4G had something to do with Consumer Reports‘ results, even though it was turned off during testing. But after running Infinity Blade II for an hour with brightness cranked up all the way, my iPad showed a battery level of 100%. When I depleted some of the battery and re-ran the test, the iPad charged back to 100% with Infinity Blade II running in the foreground.

I’m not alone in my test results. PadGadget also checked out the iPad’s battery, and didn’t run into the same issues as Consumer Reports. However, The Next Web wrote that it experienced “similar problems when enjoying apps that make use of the Retina display,” but didn’t get into specifics.

Given my results, and the results of at least one other site, Consumer Reports‘ battery life assertions seem inconclusive at best. An inability to hold a charge when plugged in would appear to be a significant flaw — one that not even laptops experience under heavy use. Testing additional units doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

The group also says nothing about screen brightness in any of its blog posts about the new iPad. In my informal tests, the new iPad runs much hotter at full brightness than it does at medium settings, but users shouldn’t have to crank the screen up that high in most cases. I have no problem with Consumer Reports publishing its findings on temperature, but the group should have at least made clear the full conditions of its testing, especially given how much temperature can vary based on screen brightness.

Some writers have accused Consumer Reports of having an agenda against Apple in light of the iPad temperature report and the iPhone 4 “antennagate” issue. I’d hate to think that’s the case, but the company isn’t doing itself any favors by performing limited tests and omitting data from its blog posts.

MORE: New iPad Review: A Sharper Focus for Apple’s Tablet