MacBook battery problems

Batteries are technology’s weak link. While tech like processor clock speed, hard drive capacity and graphics cards has accelerated rapidly over the last few years, battery capacity and total usage time has remained relatively constant. Sure, the newest lithium ion power packs can give your computer a solid 2 – 3 hours of charge, but we’re still a few years away from being able to work untethered for a good 6 – 8 hours.

I bring all this up because my MacBook has a problem with the battery that I’ve seen on others. As the above screen capture shows — from the iStat nano widget — the battery suddenly has 4% health after I used it for 10 minutes. The health is different from the actual charge because it represents the maximum possible charge the battery can take, which means how long the computer can run. What seems to happen on my computer is that it appears normal for a while, but then suddenly drops to less than 10% without warning. My friend had a MacBook with a similar problem — it would shut down when it had (supposedly) 30 minutes of power remaining.

Apple states that a battery is considered defective if it holds less than 80% of its original capacity and has fewer than 300 charge cycles. A charge cycle is the the time between a full discharge and charge — from full power to shut down. If the battery meets this criteria, it may be eligible for replacement. Since I have AppleCare, it seems that I will be taking the computer to the local Apple Store to see if a Genius can get me a new one.

Has anyone else seen a problem like this?

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2 comments on “MacBook battery problems
  1. Aubrey says:

    I am having a similar problem… I just got a new macbook pro and after charging it all night or until it says 100% full battery I will start using it and after 30 seconds of it being on its already at 99%… I’ve been using it for 5 mins or less and now its at 96%. It’s brand new so i don’t understand why it won’t last. Any ideas??

  2. wesg says:

    @Aubrey: The real question is how long the battery lasts overall. If you are getting 4 hours or so on a charge, I’d say the battery is still good. If, however, the computer shutdown randomly at a lower percentage, or if it only lasts 20 minutes, then you have a real problem.