AMITIAE - Friday 27 December 2013
Cassandra: Indications of a Potential Battery Problem with the new 13" MacBook Pro
By Graham K. Rogers
I kept this utility running for the last couple of days, but noticed when I woke the computer from its Sleep state on Thursday (26th) that the battery level in the menubar was showing 100% but did not change, but the utility panel showed 77% battery health. I was, however, able to bring this back up to 78.6% later.
The menubar icon also had a yellow triangle beside the percentage figure with the words, "Service Battery." I was not overjoyed to see this on a new machine. System preferences, Energy Saver panel also showed the yellow triangle and a warning.
I connected the power supply a couple of times, but there was no noticeable change, either in Battery Health or the menubar icon. I also restarted the Mac. After another couple of connect/disconnect tries with the power supply, the menubar icon showed 99% and began to fall gradually.
The warnings in the menubar and in System Preferences also disappeared, although the Battery Health figure was still depressingly low at 78.8%. System Information showed "Normal" for battery condition, but I was not totally convinced, especially as a comparison shows that in two days the full charge capacity had dropped to from 5714 mAh to 4991 mAh (milliAmp hours).
I connected the power supply and waited for a few minutes until pressing the power button on the Mac. It came back to life right away and the menubar indicated a charge of 11%. All well and good. The Battery Health app now showed a health reading of 79.3% while System Information had also improved to 5020 mAh (up from 4991). These figures are still far too low for a new Mac.
I also installed the app on my older MacBook Pro which had had a new battery earlier in the year. The Battery Health utility showed that there was still 98% life, which made the comparison with the 13" MacBook Pro look even worse (78.6% after a month). A user in Phuket had also installed the app just after seeing my review on Tuesday and he told me that the battery life on his year-old MacBook Pro was still 83%.
Battery States: 13" MacBook Pro, Older 13" MacBook Pro (Phuket) and Older 15" MacBook Pro
The only other factor in this is the Battery Health utility, which was (after all) downloaded from the Mac App Store, which I presume is a reliable source. Others have installed this and there are no reports of anything other than satisfied users.
Macs in the past (including a couple that I have owned) have experienced a variety of battery problems, although the battery in the older (2010) 15" computer I still have, kept going for more than a couple of years before I replaced it. With that health indication, it seemed as if the new MacBook Pro might need a new one by the time it is 6 months old. If that is the case, it may be that I have a problem battery. I may not be alone.
As power dropped, the menubar was also showing a different reading from the Battery Health app and dropping much slower than the indication in the app. The same was shown on the older MacBook pro that I also installed the Battery Health app on, but that settled back to showing the same figures in the app and the menubar.
And I really should buy that AppleCare
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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