The Apple Macbook Battery Swindle

According to Apple’s service department, laptop batteries are considered “consumables”. Any use you get out of your MacBook battery after 1 year, the warranty period, is “a bonus” that you should be “grateful for” (their words!).

I don’t ask for much, but for a battery to go from holding 98% of maximum charge to holding zero to not being recognised by the system at all in the space of a week 13 months out from its last replacement (in-warranty and at Apple’s cost) is ridiculous. I’ve got a 4 year old Dell laptop that still holds 2 hours of charge and the battery is the one that came in the package.

A battery is not a ‘consumable’ – especially not at $200, an appreciable fraction of the cost of a new system – but an integral part of a laptop, and for Apple to claim otherwise is selling these things under false pretenses. The Next Byte store was sold out of MacBook batteries – and that’s not exactly something you’ve got people lining up at the tills for.

If it wasn’t for the fact that Apples remain some of the best looking systems and Mac OSX is so many miles ahead of Windows, I’d never even consider buying one again. All I ask is that Apple build a reliable fucking system I can use for more than a year.

I find myself in agreement with those who call for Apple to license Mac OSX – Apple make some great software, OSX and the iLife suite shining examples of such – and their design studios’ skills are to be respected wherever industrial designers gather. But clearly, they have fuck-all clue about building reliable hardware, and I wish they’d let someone else just have a go at building something with a little more quality control.

That is all.

Ed note: this no longer applies to new MacBooks, since Apple now build it in (i.e. non user serviceable) and push the expected lifespan as being in the order of 3 – 5 years; if you have any issues, shout very loud.

8 thoughts on “The Apple Macbook Battery Swindle”

  1. The battery in my Powerbook was still going strong after two years and then I qualified for some battery replacement program so I got a free replacement.

    As noted by the laptop combustion scandal, Apple and Dell get their batteries from Sony. At least, at that point in time they did. Don’t know who their suppliers are now. Assuming that any laptop maker would always rely on a third party to build their batteries, what improvements could they make?

  2. Neither Apple nor Dell build their own components, but they do create the design specifications for the supplier to match, and that has to affect the quality of the end product. I’ve not heard nearly as many complaints from owners of other laptops, but three other people I know with MacBooks have had to have theirs replaced within the warranty period.

    Apple Support’s view that batteries are consumables and shouldn’t last more than a year is galling and reflective of the fact that they want to avoid responsibility for something which is a chronic issue with the MacBook battery.

  3. I think Apple hardware in general follows a consumable, disposable philosophy. I know a lot of power users that will always buy a spare battery with their Apple laptops and rotate between the two so that they’ll have twice the available power and won’t need to replace them as quickly.

    I personally don’t find failure after 13 months too offensive because mobile phone batteries have similarly awful guarantees of reliability and I’ve not dealt with other laptop manufacturers. (That being said, if a Macbook Air battery died after 13 months then it’s time to get out the pitchforks and fire.)

    Out of curiosity, what’s the warranty period for Dell batteries? And Lenovo?

  4. I wouldn’t be so disappointed if the battery hadn’t been running perfectly fine up until that point – health was around 98% and I’d taken care to occasionally exercise it fully to make sure it kept up. It was within the space of a day that it went from 98% (morning) to 42% (evening) to nothing (night), and that’s what’s got me annoyed.

    Dell’s got the standard one year limited warranty. My sister’s Acer has the same, don’t know about Lenovo. I’m not suggesting that they extend warranties, but to have the gall to suggest that 1 year is a typical lifespan is astounding.

  5. I don’t even know how I randomly stumbled upon this very cool blog, but here I am. I’m heading off to college next year and I was hands down going to buy the MacBook but now I’m not sure (much of that decision was purely aesthetics, unfortunately). Does anyone have advice on which laptop to purchase? I really did like the Mac but if it’s going to die within a year…

  6. Jess, I guess this is probably giving a really bad impression of Apple, but don’t get me wrong – Apples are still the some of the best laptops out there! I’m still going to buy Apple to replace my current one, and I think I’ve just had a bit of bad luck.

    To give a counter-example, a co-worker has had her MacBook for 4 years now and hasn’t had any issues. And from what I hear around the net, they have addressed some of the issues out there – I guess just “buyer beware” in the case of out of warranty repairs.

    The other thing at the moment is that if you buy a Macbook using an education discount, you can get an iPod Touch for free (via rebate) with it. If I was still in college and could still take advantage of that deal, I’d jump on it!

  7. Yeah, Karan’s had an unlucky run with his MacBook and isn’t typical usually. In terms of battery, as aforementioned, battery warranties are pretty short (~1 year) and Apples, in my experience, have some of the most long lasting on the market.

    I’m thinking about buying an older model PowerBook because they are still reliable and I just want a second smaller laptop. Anyway, just wanted to give my two-cents. :) hehe

Leave a Reply