I visited our local Apple Store today because the top power button on my iPad had stopped working, and I needed to get it fixed. That was an easy solution: Apple simply gave me a new 32 GB iPad to replace my old one. I backed everything up to iTunes last night on my old iPad, so this was fine with me. It’s the reason I purchase AppleCare warranty protection on all my Apple products.

iCare
Creative Commons License photo credit: myuibe

My second issue to discuss during my Apple Bar appointment has (so far) had a less satisfactory resolution. My MacBook Pro battery has been holding a charge for less and less time, and I wanted to find out if my AppleCare warranty (which is good through this July) would cover battery replacement. The “status” of the battery when I click on it now in the top menu bar of my screen says, “replace soon.”

Apple Battery Status - Replace Soon!

The Apple Genius assisting me opened my System Profiler and under Hardware – Power brought up the following screen:

MacBook Pro - Apple Battery Replacement

He explained my battery should normally hold a charge of about 5500 mAh. Since it is now supporting a full charge capacity of 3687 mAh, it’s definitely not performing as it should be and has developed a “memory.” This is natural with laptop batteries and is expected to happen over time. He also explained that my battery shows a “cycle count” of 368. A cycle count is a charge on the battery. He said normally people go through 150 battery cycles (charges) every year. Once an Apple laptop battery exceeds 300 cycles, AppleCare will no longer cover the full replacement of the battery. A new battery costs $129 US, so Applecare will pay $30 and the customer (with a laptop battery having a cycle count over 300) has to pay the remaining $99. He explained this battery situation is similar to car tires, which over time lose tread and have to be replaced entirely at some point. (I do have another option: Keep my partially-functional old battery and buy an entirely new one ourtright for $129.)

I am (of course) disappointed I couldn’t get a new battery today under my laptop’s AppleCare protection plan. I understand Apple needs to have some kind of tracking / metrics to take into account how many charges someone has put their battery through before replacing it. I am concerned, however, that this situation may be a case where the AppleCare terms of agreement (which I purchased almost three years ago) have been changed since that time and I’m being subjected to new terms. In past years I’ve received replacement batteries on our family’s MacBook computers covered under AppleCare several times, and this is the FIRST instance I’ve ever heard about “300 cycles” being the maximum number of battery charges Apple will cover. I asked if the AppleCare agreement I purchased just under three years ago included this caveat / statement that “only batteries with cycle counts under 300 will be fully covered for replacement by Apple.” The Apple Genius said he didn’t have that information but could put me in touch with Apple’s legal department and/or AppleCare department. I’m going to follow up with an email to them. He created a case number for me which may facilitate this communication.

If my original AppleCare agreement included this restriction and limitation, there is nothing I can do: I’ll have to fork over the $100 to get a new battery. If these terms have been added since that time, however, it seems that Apple should have a contractual agreement to replace my battery. My AppleCare warranty is SUPPOSED to cover me for three years. If Apple views 150 cycles / charges on a battery as “normal” for a year, it doesn’t seem right for them to only cover 300 charges or 2 years worth of battery use. Again, I understand this limited battery coverage is part of the current AppleCare service / warranty agreement terms. I’m interested to find out if was part of MY warranty terms when that warranty was purchased in 2008. We’ll see. My laptop needs a new battery!

indicator
Creative Commons License photo credit: myuibe

Of course what I’d like even more is a lighter MacBook Air laptop with a solid state drive of at least 250 GB, but Apple hasn’t reved the specs for the MacBook Air in awhile. Hopefully an update is coming soon.

Macbook Air - That's thin!

Even when they do update the Macbook Air line, my “older” Macbook Pro will still need longer battery life!

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  • JeannaB

    Do they take into account that due to the shortened charged time of the battery that it forces you to increase the number of times you need to charge it? You wouldn’t have had to charge as many times if it held it’s normal charge length. Crazy.

  • http://Www.scottweidig.com Scott Weidig

    Wes,

    This is sad for me on a number of accounts… I just checked my stats on the MBP I bought Jan 7, 2010… I am currently fully charged at 5476mAh and have run throu 119 cycles in 3 months… I typicaly run my battery to “you are on reserved power… Find a power source…” just about all the time… Am I simply a power hog and I use it too much? At this rate, I will be at 300+cycles in a single year… Hmmm… There has to be something strange here.

    Scott

  • Tony Mourkas

    Wes,

    I purchased an additional battery at the same time that I purchased my 2.0ghz 2006 model MacBook Pro and AppleCare. Both of those batteries became run down and were replaced by a Genius instore because I had AppleCare. One of these replacement batteries recently failed after 15 months of regular use. My AppleCare had expired and I was offered the $99 dollar deal which I accepted.

    So I guess it can depend on where you go and who you talk to.

    Tony

  • jeff

    Did you have any success pulling the original AppleCare terms from 2008?

  • Kjensen8

    did you end up having to buy a new battery? i am going through the same problem right now, i went to the apple store today to get a new battery, like i have done before, and the guy told me that i need a new battery but that my warranty only covers manufacturing defects. I do not believe that is true, cause if that was the cause, there is no point in buy apple care. I was debating going to another apple store to see if they will be nicer and more help, but i wanted to know war u did about the situation

  • http://wfryer.wpengine.com Wesley Fryer

    Not yet. The recommendations I received from others were:
    NewerTech ($99)Amazon ($32 – I’m leaning toward this one)eBay (recc was to contact sellers directly through comments rather than bid)MacSales – OWC ($99)PowerBook Medic ($85)FastMac ($100)

  • http://wfryer.wpengine.com Wesley Fryer

    Not yet. The recommendations I received from others were:
    - NewerTech ($99)
    - Amazon ($32 – I’m leaning toward this one)
    - eBay (recc was to contact sellers directly through comments rather than bid)
    - MacSales – OWC ($99)
    - PowerBook Medic ($85)
    - FastMac ($100)

  • http://wfryer.wpengine.com Wesley Fryer

    Jeff: No, I didn’t have any success arguing these were new terms. I just got a new battery for the MB Pro.

    @Kjensen8 ‘s question here is in response to a tweet I sent yesterday wanting recommendations for sources to buy a new Macbook (white, 1st gen) battery.

  • Anonymous

    The best way to get the most out of your battery is to not be one of the people that buys a laptop and never uses it when it’s unplugged. the battery NEEDS to be cycled. if you only use it while it’s plugged in, the battery will eventually lose it’s full and zero points and will not be able to hold a charge. A well maintained battery can get 500 cycles and still retain a decent charge.

  • Littlemagellan

    I have the same question… did you find the AppleCare terms from 08? I bought my laptop at that time as well and have the same problem…

  • Deesnutz

    Just so you know APP doesn’t cover consumable items. Its under the terms and conditions. The genius DOES have the option to cover it under APP. Maybe you should request a manager. Apple doesn’t want to upset a customer over a battery, or at least at my store.

  • Marianaito

    Thank you very much-very useful info about battery-my 3 years is about up on extended warrenty. using your info I see I have a charge of 750! and a full capacity of only 290 !! No wonder it is only lasting 20 min.  Time for a new battery I think!

  • http://twitter.com/DeadWalkerr DeadWalkerr

    Just get a new battery and put it in yourself. Cheap and easy. Stop complaining about a service you paid for. if you do not like the service then do not buy an apple product

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