Apple to Replace Swollen MacBook Batteries

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Ever since Apple introduced its Intel-based MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook computers in 2006, there have been sporadic buy persistent reports of problems with the batteries included in the units—independent of the recall of 1.8 million notebook batteries made for Apple by Sony, or a performance-related replacement program for MacBook Pro batteries the company launched in 2006. Typical problems would be a failure to charge when plugged into an AC adapter, low runtimes even though the battery had been cycled comparatively few times, and the computers’ failure to recognize some batteries. More recently, reports have been surfacing of “swollen” and “deformed” MacBook batteries, which appear to be bursting from their casings.

In response, Apple has launched a combined software update and battery replacement program; if the software fix doesn’t work, Apple will let users make reservations to have their batteries replaced at an Apple Retail Store or authorized service center.

Symptoms of affected batteries include the battery not being recognized by the computer, the battery failing to charge when the computer is plugged into the AC adapter, or having a low charge/runtime after having been cycled fewer than 300 times. If the battery pack is visibly deformed or swollen, it is also eligible for replacement.

The battery update software is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature or as a separate download; Apple says the update should be run on all MacBook and MacBook Pro computers and extra batteries that were purcahsed between February 2006 and April 2007. Affected batteries will be replaced free of charge, regardless of whether the associated computer is out of warranty. Apple is also extending repair coverage on batteries used on systems with Intel Core Duo processors to two years from date of purchase.

According to Apple, none of the battery problems—even the swelling—present any safety risk, and MacBook and MacBook Pro owners can continue to use their current batteries.

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