One of the things that the Tysons Apple store flagged on my laptop during diagnostics for the LCD replacement was the battery. I hadn’t really noticed it before, but sure enough – when I checked it was showing 75% functionality, 500 some charge cycles, and “service battery” warning. And yea, in the following month it seemed to be down to about an hour functional battery life.
Having been through the Apple store attempted repair once before, I wasn’t going down that option, so I started looking for replacements.
It was hard to find anything with a lot of good reviews. The most popular Amazon choice has a number of reviews like this one, talking about the battery arriving totally dead and MacBook refusing to charge it.
I ended up purchasing the ANGELWEL replacement battery kit for $37.
So one of the fun things about this laptop is that Apple secured the batteries with doublesided tape/glue to the top plate. That means you can’t just pull or pry the batteries out. Add to that, these LiOn batteries will vent, catch fire, and explode if damaged or punctured.
If you’re like me, you’ll start feeling like a bomb disposal tech as you replace these batteries. You also start thinking about how quickly you can get the laptop outside if it starts going up in flames, and when your last full backup was.
There seems to be two general methods for removing the batteries. One involves using alcohol to detach the sticky part from the battery, but it has a few negatives. 1) You can wait a half hour or longer for the alcohol to take effect. 2) Alcohol can run down into other areas of the system, a defective touchpad seems to be a common problem.
The second method involves using some kind of wire or string, dragged along the bottom of the battery to cut the tape. Here’s a youtube video I watched of somebody showing this process.
I decided to go the second way. My first attempt, I used dental floss – and that broke less than half way through the first cell. The second attempt was fishing line, with the same result. The third attempt was with kite string – and that worked pretty well. First string broke on the fourth cell, and the second string took care of the rest of them.
Here’s my improvised pull string with dental floss attempt (aka project garotte).
And what I was working against.
Each one of those cells needed to be ‘cut out’ from the tape attaching them to the case. I know you’re all about elegant design on the aluminum cases apple, but double sided sticky tape isn’t really it.
Old battery pack removed from the case after about half an hour of struggling with it. (insert mental image of me holding the laptop case with my foot, while pulling on the strings with either hand.
Here’s what the top of the lid looked like after I pulled them out. There’s the remaining pieces of tape there.
And finally the new batteries, nicely installed with new (included and pre-attached sticky tape).
I attached the battery connector, put the laptop bottom on temporarily, and power it on. It worked! New battery at 40%, zero cycles on it, all good. I tested that it would start charging, and it did. Reinstalled screws and done.
Not bad for an hour of time and $37. I don’t even want to think what Apple would have charged me. I’m really thinking it’s time to go with another manufacturer. Maybe some nice hackintosh laptop?