When is an Apple Laptop’s Battery Defective?

Like any other part on a MacBook or MacBook Pro, the battery can be defective. Sometimes its a couple bad batteries here and there. Other times its enough to create a recall. How can you tell if your battery is behaving properly? How can you tell if it’s defective or not? Most important of all, how can you tell if Apple will replace it for free?

Battery Usage:

All batteries age and deteriorate with or without usage. You can slow this process down by following these tips but inevitably, a battery will one day deteriorate to the point where it becomes useless.

Knowing the difference between normal deterioration and defectiveness is important in determining whether you need to call / visit Apple Support or just buy a new battery and move on.

Apple’s Definition of Normal:

Apple’s standard for battery deterioration is that the battery should hold at least 80% of it’s maximum charge capacity after 300 cycles. Under normal circumstances, this means roughly 2 years. Granted, everyone has a different definition of normal usage but Apple usually won’t deal with a battery if it’s been through over 300 cycles or three years or age.

How to Read your Battery Statistics:

Finding out your cycle count and whether the battery is within normal usage patterns or defective is part of the battery’s statistics. To read them, follow these steps:

- Click on the Apple at the top-left of your screen.
- Choose “About this Mac”.
- In the window that pops up, choose “More Info…”.
- The System Profiler will open up.
- In the left hand column, choose “Power”.
- The “Battery Information” will be displayed.

The important information to write down is:

- Cycle Count.
- Full Charge Capacity.
- Battery Condition.

Note: I suspect Apple has written it’s determination of normal vs defective usage into the Health Information under Condition. For example if your Full Charge Capacity is very low and so is the Cycle Count, it will return a condition of “Check Battery”.

What is Normal:

It’s important to note your Full Charge Capacity when you first get your MacBook. (But who really does that?) One way is to use Apple’s Battery Condition as a guideline. If it says “Good”, then your battery is good.

Note: If you are looking for Apple to replace your battery as defective, it better not say “Good”.

One of the best ways to determine how your battery is holding up is by using the free utility, Coconut Battery by Coconut-Flavor. It will report your Full Charge Capacity vs the Full Charge Capacity of your battery when it was brand new. This way you can see how your battery has deteriorated since you bought it.

When a Battery is Defective:

Apple will usually replace a battery as defective if any of the following applies:

- The battery is physically deformed but not because of user damage.
- The Full Charge capacity is extremely low and so is the Cycle Count.
- If the Battery doesn’t charge or power the laptop at all within the first 90 days of purchase.
- It is determined to be a part of a battery recall.

Note: This is not Apple’s official word and each case is solely determined by the Support Representative and/or their supervisor.

My Personal Experience:

I began to notice the battery life in my MacBook Pro was absolutely horrendous a few weeks ago. I checked my battery information in System Profiler and saw a Condition of “Check Battery” and a Cycle Count of about 110. Knowing that I’m well under the 300 Cycle limit and the battery condition is reporting check battery, I called Apple Support.

I’ll be honest – It wasn’t until I informed my rep about the statistics in System Profiler that he mentioned replacing the battery. If you are having battery issues, be informed and check your battery information before you call. It could save you the cost of a new battery.

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