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Portables (Apple) Power Hardware

MacBook's "Unremovable" Battery Easy To Remove 476 476

Slatterz writes "Going just a bit further than your average unboxing, someone has stripped a new 17-inch Apple Macbook Pro to its component parts revealing one or two little surprises. The biggest of which is that the built-in battery is easily accessible, requiring the tinkerer to remove just the 13 Philips screws which hold the bottom cover in place, and the three tri-wing security screws which hold the battery in place."
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MacBook's "Unremovable" Battery Easy To Remove

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  • Re:"Easy"? (Score:1, Informative)

    by PixetaledPikachu (1007305) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:28PM (#26909543)

    A total of sixteen screws. To change the battery. And that's "easy"?

    My laptops require zero screws to remove. What does that make them?

    Normal? your laptop's battery is designed to be removable. The MBP isn't

  • Re:WOW (Score:5, Informative)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:30PM (#26909567)
    If you fly to Australia (presumably from the U.S. and not from NZ or something) and need your laptop the whole time, invest in an airline power adaptor and check to see if your airline has connectors here [seatguru.com]. Or you know... buy a different laptop.
  • Re:/sarcasm (Score:5, Informative)

    by zobier (585066) <zobier@@@zobier...net> on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:34PM (#26909637)

    Well, PC Authority is dead after just 15 minutes.
    Why don't they link to the actual disassembly over at iFixit [ifixit.com]!?

  • by Anti_Climax (447121) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:37PM (#26909679)

    How about a working link [ifixit.com] to the tear down instead of a slashdotted page that just links to it anyway.

  • by Briden (1003105) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:38PM (#26909707)
    so get one: tamperproof screw driver kit [tamperproof.com]
  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:40PM (#26909735) Homepage

    It's not a 10% difference, the battery life is at least double what it would have been.

    I think it's obvious that the battery isn't "non-removable", just that it requires removing a few screws rather than a simple sliding latch.

  • Re:/sarcasm (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:43PM (#26909779)

    Well thank you for linking to a blog that pastes an article from TheInquirer who links to iFixit.com ....

  • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:45PM (#26909799) Journal
    The mounting hardware for a removeable battery does not need to take significantly more room than a non-removeable battery, and certainly nowhere near 10%. It's just Apple trying to be "cool".

    My guess is that Apple is banking on the fact that when it comes time to replace the battery, they can:
    • charge more for it
    • make it expensive enough that people would just get a new machine rather than upgrade the ol' clunker.

    Either way, Profit.

  • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:45PM (#26909803) Homepage Journal

    the ipods are a little different story. Apple would like you to occasionally buy a new product from them. They make very little on upgrades, if anything at all. iPods are meant to be replaced every 2-3 years, and computers every 3-5 years. We replace batteries for iPods here all the time. Or you can go to one of several web sites and buy replacement battery kits. FastMac and iFixIt are our two biggest suppliers for ipod batteries, screens, etc.

    As previously mentioned several times, Apple is installing a battery with very long runtime and is adding a little capacity by not installing a latch. There's extra space savings by not having a hinged latch or cover too. Not a lot, but every bit helps.

    If your battery does get used a lot and wears out (high cycle count) Apple will replace it for a reasonable cost. Or you will soon be able to get replacement battery kits same as the iPods.

    My wristwatch requires a special tool to open up because it's a diving watch. I can't change the battery myself. I've been in twice since I bought it to get a replacement battery. At wal-mart of all places. I don't want to sacrifice what it takes to make my battery replaceable.

  • by risinganger (586395) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:52PM (#26909903)
    That'll be Sony you want to thank ;-)
  • Re:"Easy"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by el americano (799629) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @08:00PM (#26910011) Homepage

    So, why exactly should Apple go out of their way to make batteries more user removable?

    Because MacBook batteries have a history of dying? An alarming number of the MacBook and MacBook Pros in our office needed replacing around the 1-year mark. Yes, we did the MacBookPro battery recall. Yes, we installed the OS update that fixed what was killing some batteries. Several needed replacing anyway, most of them just out of warranty.

    I'm sure nothing will go wrong this time though. Good call!

  • by samkass (174571) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @08:02PM (#26910035) Homepage Journal

    The cost is $179. [apple.com]

    As for whether it's 10% or not, [citation needed]. My previous-generation MacBook Pro has quite a bit of plastic and latches and such to make a quality battery compartment. In addition, it's a big block out of the bottom of the case that undoubtedly weakens the torsional rigidity. Considering the new one's core is made out of a solid block of aluminum, I think it's pretty cool they made the decision not to cut it up for a battery.

    Count me as one of the ones for whom this decision is perfect.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @08:06PM (#26910107) Homepage Journal

    1 - They want you to upgrade your laptop too.
    2 - You can easily purchase the tool to open your watch. its designed to be water proof, not replacement proof. Nor is it designed to be 'obsolete' once the battery dies.

    Sure, you can find replacement batteries for ipods and 'break the seal' to do it yourself, its all about intent.

  • only 13 screws TOTAL (Score:5, Informative)

    by tyme (6621) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @08:13PM (#26910185) Homepage Journal

    it appears that nobody, including the submitter, read the actual source article (I know: I must be new here).

    In fact, there are 10 screws that hold the bottom plate on the machine, not 13 as indicated in the summary, then three screws that hold hold the battery in place.

    Yes, the three screws that hold the battery in place are weird, tamper-resistant screws, but you can easily make a driver for them by filing down three points on a torx driver of the appropriate size (I did this about 15 years ago in order to open my first Gameboy, which used similar tamper resistant screws).

    If you're not up for filing down a few points on a torx driver, you have no business fiddling around inside a laptop anyhow.

  • Re:That'll show 'em! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @08:18PM (#26910245)

    That's fairly easy. You just need a spot welder, some LiP cells and duct tape (or the original plastic battery housing).
    Optionally replace the charging circuit, and protection circuitry on the battery.

    Compared to removing those 16 screws, it shouldn't be a huge deal.

  • by MentlFlos (7345) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @08:21PM (#26910289) Homepage
    or geek up and get the screw driver kit you should already have http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=91310 [harborfreight.com]
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @08:23PM (#26910325)

    Just 16 screws?

    Hell yes. Ever removed the hard drive from an iBook?

    I have, about a dozen times. It requires nearly complete dis-assembly. I had about sixteen PILES of different screws. When I took one apart that was for parts, the screws could have filled about a third of a shot glass. You need a large table, mostly to hold sheets of paper with areas marked out for keeping track of where the screws came from (not terribly hard to remember, but better safe than sorry.)

    Total time to disassemble, swap drives, and re-assemble, after you've had practice? I think the fastest I ever did it was a little under an hour. Add extra if you refresh the loctite coatings on the screws that have it (recommended for machines which are young and will be kept for a while; the screws loosen up quite a bit with age.)

    I don't know which was worse: the numerous (and continued, throughout the life of the series) major defects, or how badly it was designed WRT servicing. It's almost like they intentionally designed it to be a bitch to service to make up for thinner sales margins so they could nail people (mostly students and teachers) on labor after the glorious one-year warranty expires.

  • Re:WOW (Score:2, Informative)

    by SouprMage (926800) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @09:11PM (#26910929)
    And yet a whole host of others don't realize how easy it is to plug in an external battery, rather than complain about not being able to remove the 8hr battery that is provided.

    Besides, how much Coffee does it take to stay awake for the duration of the flight. You would be spending half your time in the John, and thus not using your battery anyhow.
  • Re:WOW (Score:5, Informative)

    by shmlco (594907) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @10:39PM (#26911707) Homepage

    "... you can squeeze more cells in your laptop design if you don't put them in a neat, removable package."

    Most manufacturers use sets of standard round AA-sized and shaped cells all wired together within the plastic case you think of as "the battery". This means that a good portion of the internal space is simply dead air. (Picture 4 AA's side-by-side.)

    Apple, on the other hand, is having the cells custom sized and formed to fit the exact dimensions available to the battery, even to the extent of having the individual cells pressed into rectangular shapes in order to maximize the amount of the space actually dedicated to batteries.

  • Re:/sarcasm (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrLint (519792) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @11:57PM (#26912289) Journal

    While there are a number of hints when dealing with any laptop tear down, however this is what I learned from more than one iBook (g3) teardown.

    Each step, put all the screws in that set up a separate area (not unusual). However with the g3, many steps had a *lot* of multi sized screws. What I did was did a rough sketch of their relative positions and sizes; (xs,s,m,l, etc). You can find tear down instructions with screw sizes, but really, can you tell a 3mm from a 3.5mm?

    Also, if you aren't going for immediate reassembly, you can lay out a strip of clear packing tape, and stick them down, separating them by step. Seal them over when disassembly is done, roll-up and store. You can slice them open one step at a time when putting it back together.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @01:37AM (#26913001)

    I've never owned a laptop without buying spare batteries for it sooner or later.

    But because the batteries needed to be replaced, or because you needed more power?

    In the case of replacement, as this article shows a user can easily do this after the three or four year battery life is up. Or you can have the Apple store do it for free (just the cost of the battery).

    If it's for more power, there are external battery packs not much larger than the extra battery you'd buy.

    I bought an external battery for my Macbook Pro for a conference, but never needed it.

    Too bad they don't build in a capacitor to run the laptop for 30 seconds while swapping batteries

    All Macbooks with battery doors (which include the Macbook and 15" Macbook Pros) let you do this.

    But really, does it save any space at all? Usually the bottom of the battery is the exterior of the laptop, so it doesn't have to fit "inside."

    Look at the rest of the casing, and connector. The battery has to be strong enough to take abuse inside of a backpack or pocket without being destroyed or discharging, all of which can be done away with if you get rid of the battery case. It may not seem like much but all that structure adds up (especailly bracing structure inside the battery, not just around the edges).

  • by ColaMan (37550) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @02:31AM (#26913327) Homepage Journal

    If so that seems like a deliberate attempt to make things more awkward for those who want to swap it themselves.

    "It was pretty easy to get into with just philips head screws and I was just trying to prise the connector out with a pair of scissors, and they kinda got stuck across the wires and started glowing and it looked really cool so I got my camera and tried to take a picture but the flash was too bright so I turned it off and turned the macro on and got reeeeeal close to it and it went BANG and my eyebrows caught fire and now Apple owes me eleventy billion dollars for pain and suffering!!!1!!!1"

    Not that you or I would ever do that, but *sigh* companies have to take into account the lowest common denominator when building a laptop.

  • by Spamboi (179761) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @02:41AM (#26913373)

    As with any PC hardware which implements ACPI (basically every modern system), you use the "power button override." See ACPI v. 3.0b section 4.7.2.3 "Sleeping/Wake Control. The description of the PM1.PWRBTN_STS bit in Table 4-11 gives further details.

    In short: press and hold the power button for 4 seconds, and the system will transition straight to the G2/S5 Soft Off state.

  • Re:WOW (Score:3, Informative)

    by BZ (40346) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @10:42AM (#26916283)

    Well, the size comparison is correct; it's been verified independently by just x-raying the laptops. The new battery really is 40% bigger, and there is no way to have fit that battery in the old laptop. It's weirdly shaped (which is hard to impossible to do with a user-removable battery) and really does take advantage of just that much extra space.

    Or were you blanket-accusing Apple of lying without having done your homework?

  • Re:WOW (Score:3, Informative)

    by BZ (40346) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @10:46AM (#26916329)

    The entire capacity increase is due to an increase in volume as far as I can see, yes. They changed the battery tech too, but that was to increase number of cycles the battery can handle, since it's not as easy to replace.

    The new machine is more rigid than the old one.

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