AMITIAE - Thursday 4 July 2013

Cassandra: Battery Replacement for a Mac - Availability Difficulties and Regional Pricing Differences

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


When I had my first MacBook Pro back in 2007 there was apparently a problem with the battery that was made by Sony and after a year that was replaced under warranty. I think the design of the batteries may have been a problem as just over a year later (and not under warranty) the battery was fading again.

Fortunately I was visiting San Francisco that year, so bought one in the Union Square Apple Store. Back at the hotel, I opened the easy-access panel and swapped the batteries. I took the old one back to the Apple store and I presume they disposed of it in a safe manner.

And then a year later, the same happened: fading battery, trip to San Francisco, new battery.

I have a mid-2010 MacBook Pro now, but after a little more than 2 years, the battery in that too has begun to fade. The MacBook Pro has never had fantastic battery life - unlike the MacBook Air, or my iPad, say - but in recent times it has dropped below 2 hours before I need to find a power source.

Batteries were always expensive for Mac users in Thailand, but these days not only are they not cheap, they are only available in one place (unless you want to take the fire risk of a Chinese replacement). In addition, the battery is not shown in the Apple Online store for Thailand, while it is shown in the online stores for other countries in the region.

What this means is a trip (or phone call) to Maccenter who will order a replacement if there is not one in stock. The price for the 15" MacBook Pro battery was 6741 baht, which compares unfavourably with the US price and with the other SE Asian countries, especially as in these countries Apple is able to offer the battery as an online item.

With each of the countries (and the US) I went to the top page and in the search box, entered the word, "battery". In every case, except Thailand, I was taken to a page where several replacement types were offered. My comparison figures were done using the Calculator application except in the case of the Philippines and Vietnam, where I used online sources and double-checked:

CountryLocal priceThai conversion
USUS$1294015 baht
Indonesia Rp1799,0005643 baht
MalaysiaR459.004500 baht
Philippines P7,2905219 baht
SingaporeS$1984869 baht
ThailandNo online price6741 baht
VietnamDong2,439,0003585 baht

(As the figure for Vietnam seemed unusually low, I checked this on several sites)

Unlike the earlier MacBook Pro which had an easily accessible battery bay, the later version (mid-2010) needs a technician; or at least in my case it does, as I hate unscrewing things on the Mac - replacing the RAM on a 2007 iMac, or the battery on that other MacBook Pro, OK.

This has screws and insides are exposed: I steer clear of this, so would have gone to an official Apple outlet anyway, as I did with the RAM upgrade on the same MacBook Pro; but the iStudio does not carry the batteries. I was redirected to Maccenter. Such replacements appear to apply to any Apple device with a battery in Thailand. Note that on the information page concerning batteries, Apple states, "You can purchase replacement batteries for many late models of Apple notebooks directly from the Apple Store." Except here unfortunately.

Not quite Catch 22, but close.

[When I collected the Mac, starting up initially was a mess as the calendar had been reset back to 1 Jan 2007 and with no wifi access, I had to reset the clock manually. The System Report showed a battery with 0 cycles, which was good.

After fully charging at home, I pulled the power source out and left the Mac running for 2 hours. The battery indicator shows I still have 77% left in the battery. I could not have reported that yesterday.]

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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