I had to replace the battery in my Macbook Pro, twice.

Never have I used the same computer for this long. I bought my Macbook Pro in February 2014. Today, after 6 years it’s still my daily driver. It’s Apple fault that I’m still using this computer. The Macbook pro’s sold between 2016 and 2020 have the butterfly keyboard. I don’t want to buy a computer with a faulty keyboard. The butterfly keyboard is a timebomb. Even if you are careful. One visit to a dusty cafe and you already can have a defective key. Apple offers a four year extended warranty on their faulty butterfly keyboard. But what if you want to use your computer for longer than four years? Look around you. You see everywhere Apple laptops that are older than four years.

If you take well care of your computer, it can last for many years. I clean the inside regularly with compressed air. I have replaced the low quality thermal paste with high-quality silver-based thermal paste. I have upgraded the SSD from 256GB to a 1024GB version. Small steps to keep the machine useable through the years.

Some parts in the Macbook needs to be replaced because of they wear-out. Like the battery and the speakers. In the spring of 2018, I got a warning from OSX that my battery needs to be serviced. But I didn’t care about this message. I rarely use the Macbook on battery power. The computer is always on the desk connected to the adapter. So that the battery is losing its capacity was not a priority. But I noticed something that was making me a little unconformable. The individual cells of the battery were slowly inflating. After I replaced the thermal paste on the CPU I could still put the cover back. Some weeks later when I replaced the ripped speakers, I couldn’t mount the back cover anymore. The cells were too swollen.

A swollen original Apple Macbook Pro battery
A swollen original Apple Macbook Pro battery
A swollen original Apple Macbook Pro battery
A swollen original Apple Macbook Pro battery
The battery is too swollen that I can't close the enclosure anymore
The battery is too swollen that I can’t close the enclosure anymore

This can be dangerous. If the pressure of the swollen cells gets too high, the expansion can crack the laptop. Google is full of pictures with Macbooks with a cracked touchpad. I don’t want this to happen to my laptop. Its time to remove this broken battery. This can be a challenge because Apple glues the battery to the top case of the enclosure. You can use different methods to remove the battery. Alcohol or Zippo fuel to dissolve the glue, using heat to make the glue softer of just use a knife and brute force.

The battery is removed
The battery is removed

I removed the battery with a copper-wire I found in a phone disassembly set. I ordered that set from a Chinese website some years ago. It contains all the tools you need to open a modern phone. Normally you use this wire when you want to part the glass and the LCD of your phone. Now I used it to cut through the glue to remove the battery from the case.

Special copper cutting wire
Special copper cutting wire

Apple has builtin protection in their laptops. If there is not a battery attached, the CPU and the GPU will be stuck on the lowest clock speed. The I5 CPU in my MacBook is now operating at 800Mhz. The GPU is held at 200Mhz. The laptop is unworkable. Everything is slow. Apple explains that the power supplies are not quick enough to switch to a higher power delivery when the Macbook processor starts to work at full speed. The battery in the Macbook is supporting as some kind of buffer. Therefore I have to install a battery if I want to use this computer on his top potential.

47 dollar Macbook Pro battery
47 dollar Macbook Pro battery

I found a battery retailer nearby to my house who is offering a MacBook battery for 47 US dollars. I was in desperate need of a new battery so I drove there to buy one. I even got three months warranty on this battery.

Macbook Pro with a new battery
Macbook Pro with a new battery

The battery worked fine. Coconutbattery told that the circuit board of the battery was made in 2015. Maybe this was an old battery that was in storage for three years or someone refurbished this battery with new cells. What is know for sure is that this battery is not originally made by Apple. Years ago I heard from an official Apple repair center that Apple only supplies their original batteries to official Apple repair centers. If Apple is going to replace a battery, they will not swap out the battery, but they replace the whole top case of the laptop. Apple says on its website that the cost is around 200 dollars. But they will give you the final price after inspection. Maybe they find a spot of water that will raise the price to 400 dollars?

After one year the battery starts to swell again
After one year the battery starts to swell again

After one year I found out that a 47 dollar fake Apple battery is not the best bargain you can do. The battery started to swell slowly. It started with a message from OSX. Your battery needs to be serviced. When I opened the case I was shocked. The cells looked like balloons. Too good to be true with this cheap battery. On Facebook, there is one Apple shop that everybody is recommending. Let’s give them a try. I contacted them. 110 dollars for a battery with installation and six months of warranty. I drove immediately to their shop.

The technical guy is replacing the battery
The technical guy is replacing the battery

In the shop, the technical guy uses a can of Zippo fuel and a flat knife to remove the balloons that were a battery. After that, he installed the new battery. On the cells, I could see a stamp that says; this battery was made in March 2019. The battery was one month old.

Zero cycles. 100 percent health
ZERO cycles. 100 percent health

Now, one year, later the battery still works. It’s not swollen. But it lost already 15 percent of its health. I understand that’s normal behavior for batteries that are not original. I don’t know how long I will be using this computer. I hope this is the last battery before I upgrade to a new machine. What machine that will be is a question I have to think about in the next months’ or years. Will I keep using an Apple product or do I switch to another brand. Will I buy a mobile device or will I buy a desktop computer. Questions I don’t have an answer for this moment. I want to wait until the next WWDC conference. Will Apple release the next operation system also for my old 2013 Macbook Pro? Or I’m stuck with Catalina for the next years. I really hate to see that my applications will withhold updates because I’m not running the latest version of OSX. I had that problem in the past with my old Mac Mini 2016. It was stuck on MacOSX 10.6 for years. Slowly it was harder and harder to get updates for the problems I was running. Till the moment that even the browsers didn’t get any updates anymore.

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