iBook Battery Problem

(Update, Aug 2006: Info on the Apple notebook battery recall here. This entry is about an older issue.)

iBook batteries are being killed, and the culprit for many (1, 2, 3) seems to be the OS X 10.2.4 upgrade. My own iBook (8 months old this 30th) is a recent victim as well, and its unplugged lifespan has, in a matter of weeks, deteriorated: from three hours, to one hour, to thirty minutes, to five. Since my refurbished unit is not covered by the standard Apple warranty (Silly me, I still have three months left on my refurb warranty after all) I’ve had to try every trick in the book, but to no avail.

As far as I can tell from previous discussions, (my own technical knowledge is limited, but I know a few practical things about Li-Ion and NiMH batteries from my Globe days) the OS X 10.2.4 upgrade seems to have irretrievably affected something in the battery’s own power management unit, so that it reports a full charge when in truth it is still at dangerously low levels. The undetected deficiency catches up with the portable user with a sudden sleep/shutdown at what still seems like near-full battery capacity.

X-Charge screenshot, showing sudden jump in battery's reported charge.

This X-Charge screenshot shows the sudden jump in the battery’s apparent capacity from just above 10%. I think it’s safe to assume that its true capacity is still stuck at around 10%, and it is just not increasing because the battery’s own firmware (?) now reports that it is fully charged.

From here, I’m unsure as to whether I should address the issue by purchasing a new battery. Perhaps it would be wiser to just wait till I can buy a mid-range Powerbook with Panther (hopefully with less buggy power management) later this year. For now, I’m stuck with a small, white, portable desktop machine — which, in truth, is still more than I could ask for.


  1. Rod says:

    What I don’t understand is why you keep having all sorts of extremely esoteric problems with your MAC and I don’t have any with my Windows machine.

  2. Paulo says:

    The problems so far have been related to the battery and the power source. Software and performance-wise, the iBook has been a dream. It’s never hanged, rarely needs a reboot, is wonderfully portable, and can make web pages, edit video and audio, play DVD’s, and cook quick family meals in under 20 minutes.

  3. Bam says:

    In short, it does everything but windows!

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

  4. Bam says:

    What? No alternate link to non-Microsoft-owned RealPC?

  5. Brother I feel your pain. All last year my battery life was hanging between 35-45 minutes. I couldn’t finish a class with it.

    I took my (refurb) iBook into the Apple Store and asked a genius. He said that the battery is covered for a year, after that you’re on your own. So I bought a new one. Back to 3-4 hours. The Apple Genius also said that the best way to handle the battery is fully charge it and then almost fully drain it before you plug it back in.

    Also, I bought AppleCare and it has paid for itself a few times over. My backlight went out. When I sent the iBook in they fixed that, the AirPort antenna and another cryptically-named componant. My Combo-drive has started acting up, not mounting CDs and DVD so I sent it in and got that replaced.

    If you love your iBook, you might consider getting AppleCare. Then again, with a 12″ PowerBook maybe loving your iBook isn’t quite as easy as it once was?

  6. tray says:

    yea. macs do everything that windows do… cept CRASH :-)

    *hugs her 17″ powerbook* :-D

  7. So are they going to replace the battery for you?