Computing technology is built upon 1s and 0s. The beauty of this is that everything related to your computer is surrounded by data, which can help you as a user to better understand and care for your device. Yes, this even applies to batteries, which seem as about as quirky as the weather sometimes. In this post I am going to give you a little insight about your Apple notebook’s battery, including how to make a warranty claim if yours isn’t performing up to spec.
It is important to note that a notebook battery’s performance is dependent on how you are using it. Your battery life will not be anywhere near as good while burning DVDs as it is if you are just doing email. If you think your battery is not performing up to par, you should check its vital signs to figure out if it is even good. If you find nothing wrong with your battery, there are things you can do to care for it that will help to improve its performance and extend its life. I’ll start with a walk through on how to check the vital signs of your Apple notebook.
Apple Notebook Vital Signs
To check your battery’s vital signs, click on the Apple icon and then on the “About This Mac” menu item. Next, select “More Information”. This will take you to your system profiler. (Another way to get there is to type in “System Profiler” in Spotlight, and this application should be the first in the list.).Once in the system profiler, select “Power” from the long list of items on the left hand side. This will show you vital statistics related to your power system, including your battery.
Apple batteries are designed to maintain 80% of their maximum capacity for the first 300 power cycles. The capacity is measured in mAH. You can see a list of common Apple notebook capacities and their 80% equivalents in this Apple battery blog post. A “cycle” is when you drain your battery through usage and charge it back up to 100%. Thus, 300 times of charging your notebook is considered 300 cycles.
If your notebook is under factory or Apple Care warranty, and has less than 300 cycles, and also has a full charge capacity that is less than 80% of the original spec capacity, you are likely eligible for a replacement. If you visit your Apple Store, they have a handy application they can plug into the laptop to tell you immediately. However, it is always a good idea to print out your battery’s vital signs so you can make your argument directly to a store employee should their diagnostic application not side in your favor.
If your notebook is out of warranty, you will have to purchase a new battery from Apple or a third party. As you can see from the cycle counts on my 2008 MacBook Pro, I recently purchased a new battery.
Extending The Life of Your Battery
If your battery’s vital signs are within specification, or you recently purchased a new battery, there are things you can do to extend the life of your battery. First, be cognizant of the temperature ranges your battery was designed to be exposed to. The following guide on Apple’s website discusses temperature ranges, long term storage, and settings for maximizing battery life. Second, be judicious with those cycle counts. Rather than being lazy and not getting up to get my adapter out of my carrying bag, I try to keep my laptop plugged in when I can to avoid running it on battery. Last, you should recalibrate your battery every couple of months. Apple documents the battery recalibration process on their website. If this is too much trouble for your working style, consider purchasing a charger with a conditioning feature. I bought a third party charger and am very happy with the results. It has helped me to recover some life in my older battery, which had just fallen below specs.
Battery life has greatly increased in modern devices. Still, a smart consumer will care for their battery and understand how to maximize their warranty coverage for a failing unit. In my next post, I’ll tackle extending battery life on the iPhone. If that goes well, maybe I’ll take on the Toyota Prius next!