Summary. When using Skype on an Apple MacBook Pro, the battery is drained quickly and depleted of power. It is predicted that Apple will use the high-quality low-power video camera technology from the iPhone 4 in future notebooks to reduce the power drain.
Problem Cause. Skype places a high demand on the computer’s processor and resources which causes the battery to drain quickly. Also, when the Apple MacBook Pro is playing any video, such as YouTube, the battery is drained more rapidly. The built-in web cam is also a cause for additional power drain.
Problem Details. Follow the steps below to reproduce this problem.
- Begin with your battery fully charged and be sure to use a battery that is in good health. You can test this using the free iStat Pro Widget for Apple. The screen shot here is from the battery monitor portion of iStat Pro.
- Observer your estimated battery life under normal conditions. Your estimate will take into account the current screen brightness and other factors. In the example here shown in the screen capture below, the estimated battery life is 2 hours and 24 minutes.
- As soon as Skype starts, the computer recalculates the estimated battery life and it drops by an hour (about 44%). This is a huge power drain caused by Skype.
- In about 50 minutes, the remaining battery life has dropped by 61 minutes with only 12 minutes remaining.
- A few minutes later, the computer switches to reserve battery power.
Assessment. The problem of rapid battery depletion is partly due to programs like Skype being overzealous in their use of the computer’s CPU and other resources. Skype also interferes with other activities on the computer, slowing down all other processes.