O'Grady's PowerPage » battery

Users complain of shorter battery life after Mountain Lion install, Apple reportedly launching investigation of issue

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 12:15
Category: battery, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

This is either the end of the world or a firmware update that may need to happen.

Per AppleInsider, a number of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners who updated to the recently-released OS X Mountain Lion are complaining of battery performance issues, with some reporting their batteries only last half as long as when OS X 10.7 Lion was installed.

Since the first complaints surfaced in an Apple Support Communities thread started on July 25, the day Mountain Lion launched, the number of reportedly affected MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners has grown to the point where Apple has supposedly initiated an investigation. As of this writing the thread, titled “Battery life dropped considerably on Mountain Lion” now stands at 15 pages.

While most users are seeing battery life drops of about one to two hours, some cases claim performance has fallen to less than 50 percent as their machines are only capable of staying on for a little over two hours.

Community members have been trying a variety of methods to remedy the issue, from re-installing the software to turning off some of Mountain Lion’s new features like Power Nap, but the attempts have yet to produce a fool-proof solution. Some members have seen limited success in resetting the machine’s system management controller (SMC), though the battery issue crops up again after continued use.

Many users are reporting heightened CPU temperatures even when the machine is at idle, possibly pointing to a backend program management problem, while others are seeing battery drain when the system is sleeping.

Apple has taken notice of the complaints and, according to one community member, sent out a questionnaire on Friday in an attempt to pinpoint the problem.

OS X Mountain Lion launched last week, bringing with it over 200 new features including tighter iCloud integration, the Messages app, Notification Center, Facebook integration, Dictation, AirPlay Mirroring and Game Center.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

And, as always, if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Retina Display MacBook Pro battery more expensive than previous iterations

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 18th, 2012, 09:15
Category: battery, Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Apple’s new Retina Display MacBook Pro may be snazzy, but it isn’t cheap to fix if the battery fails.

Per Macworld, the battery on the current model has been priced at 54 percent more expensive than the previous iteration. Apple updated the pricing list for MacBook battery replacements, showing that servicing the new model’s battery will run US$199 before tax.

Some MacBook Pro notebooks with built-in batteries require a replacement battery two or three years down the line. Since all of Apple’s latest models do not feature a user-serviceable battery slot, you have to take it to the Genius Bar to get it serviced. This costs US$129 for 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros, but the Retina MacBook Pro features a higher price.

A replacement battery for the Retina MacBook Pro will cost you US$199 before taxes, Apple’s price list shows—54 percent more than that of previous models. In comparison, the cost of servicing the battery on the now-retired 17-inch MacBook Pro, which featured a larger battery than its smaller notebook counterparts, was US$179.

iFixit’s teardown of the US$2200 15-in Retina MacBook Pro gives a few hints on the reasoning behind the price increase. The battery has 95 watt hours (Wh) at 10.95 V, compared to last year’s 77.5 Wh battery, and instead of being screwed into the machine, it’s glued into place, making it more difficult to replace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Assorted, unmarked iPad 2 units sporting different A5 processor, offer up to 16% additional battery life

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 06:41
Category: battery, Hardware, iPad, News

Ok, this is interesting.

Per Engadget, an updated model of the US$399 iPad 2 is floating around at retail, and it might improve battery life by as much as 16 percent.

The site is reporting that the lower-cost version of the iPad 2 introduced in March has quietly introduced a new 32nm A5 processor, and that could translate to improved battery life for budget-minded buyers.

The discovery was made by AnandTech, who did an extensive review on the upgraded model, which bears the “iPad2,4” model. Instead of the 45nm process used for the A5 processor used in the original iPad 2 last year, the newer US$399 model features “special A5 chips manufactured using Samsung’s 32nm chip-making process.”



In testing, the website discovered that the 32nm iPad2,4 model boasted improved battery life of 15.8 percent, including a video playback test that lasted 15.7 hours — far better than the original iPad 2 model at 13.3 hours and even the new iPad with its larger battery, which ran for a mere 11.15 hours.

Unforunately, there’s no way to tell which iPad 2 you’re buying until you’ve opened the box and checked the system information.

“This particular iPad 2,4 sample came from Best Buy, and several attempts to find one elsewhere came up short. All indications seem to point to the iPad 2,4 being relatively rare, which makes sense considering what’s inside it,” stated the AnandTech article.

So, it’s sort of a golden ticket that’s out there.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CCTV battery, third-party car charger hacked into do-it-yourself external MacBook battery

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, 08:13
Category: battery, Hack, Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Pro

This falls into the “If You’re Feeling Brave” category, but it could work nicely.

Per The Verge, MacBook Pro user Evan Rodgers took a CCTV battery, a third party MacBook car charger, and some soldering tools to create a do-it-yourself external MacBook battery.

Watch the video, see what you make of it and if you have the parts on hand, you can avoid a fairly costly trip to the Apple Store for a replacement MacBook Pro battery and add about two to three hours of on-the-fly usage:



iPhone 4S battery issues remain after iOS 5.1 beta, further work might be needed

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2011, 08:06
Category: battery, iPhone, News

The iPhone 4S battery issue…it might take a little more work.

Per ArsTechnica, Apple’s first beta of iOS 5.1 issued to developers reportedly does not address battery problems experienced by some users, as solutions to the complex problem continue to elude.

ABI Research’s Michael Morgan spoke with ArsTechnica about the problems that some have reported since the release of iOS 5. In addition to existing iPhone users who updated their handset to iOS 5, the problems have been reported by those who have bought the new iPhone 4S, which comes with iOS 5 preinstalled.

Morgan said that although Apple has apparently not yet been able to solve the battery life issues for all users, an eventual software fix is still the most likely solution. He said that software is the most likely cause of the problems seen by some, not hardware.

“We tore down the 4S and tested some of the major components, including the new A5 processor,” Morgan said. “Nothing that we tested was significantly different from the iPhone 4, and power draw was right where we expected it to be.”

Of course the version of iOS 5.1 seeded to developers on Monday is only the first beta of the pre-release software, and Apple will continue to make changes to it before its release. The final, public debut of iOS 5.1 could turn out to resolve the battery issues being reported by some iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 users.

But Apple already released iOS 5.0.1 in November, an incremental update that aimed to fix bugs affecting battery life on the iPhone. However, some users said that installing iOS 5.0.1 failed to address the battery life problems they were experiencing.

Apple quickly responded the same week iOS 5.0.1 was launched, and issued a public statement in which it admitted there may be some issues that still need to be addressed. While Apple said iOS 5.0.1 addressed “many” battery bugs, the company said it was still investigating “a few remaining issues.”

General battery-related issues, or any “undefined glitch,” are a “massive problem” for Apple, Morgan said, noting how difficult it can be to pinpoint a problem in software as complex as Apple’s iOS 5.

Morgan said what makes the battery issues so difficult for Apple to completely address is not only the complexity of the software that powers the iPhone, but also the variables involved with how users actually use their device. New features like Notification Center, automatic updates to content in Newsstand, and syncing with iCloud mean people are using their device more, which will naturally drain battery.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Glowing iPhone 4 causes scare on Australian airline flight

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 08:58
Category: battery, iPhone, News

You’d probably remember seeing this if you were there.

Per PC Mag, an Australian regional airline had to extinguish a glowing red iPhone 4 that was emitting “dense smoke” on an airplane have sparked concerns over the handset’s battery safety.

Regional Express (REX), the country’s largest independent regional airline, said last Friday that a passenger’s iPhone was emitting a “red glow” and smoke on a flight from Lismore to Sydney. A flight attendant extinguished the smoking smartphone and no one was injured during the incident.



Judging by the model number of the device, the handset in question is the GSM version of the iPhone 4.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have both been notified of the matter. Though the mishap may prompt an investigation by officials, it does appear to be a relatively isolated occurrence.

The issue does, however, come on the heels of an Apple replacement program for the first-generation iPod nano due to potential battery overheating issues. After first rolling out replacement offers in select countries, Apple initiated the program worldwide earlier this month, noting that the problem is “very rare,” though the likelihood of overheating does increase over time.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill exempting lithium batteries used in consumer electronics from proposed limitations that would classify the batteries as hazardous materials. According to an analysis commissioned by the Rechargeable Battery Association, the limitations would have cost electronics makers US$1.13 billion alone in the first year.

One of the biggest consumer electronic battery scares in recent years occurred in 2006. Sony recalled 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries that year after microscopic metal particles were detected inside the batteries. The incident affected Apple, which had to recall 1.8 million iBook and PowerBook G4 batteries. Sony had also supplied the defective batteries to Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway and Toshiba.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple apparently exploring further updates to resolve MacBook Pro battery/Lion issues

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 15:11
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Sometimes the firmware update doesn’t fix everything…

Per AppleInsider, as some users continue to report battery life issues running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on older MacBooks, Apple continues to look into the problem in hopes of finding a solution.

One user reported receiving a phone call from an Apple technician last week. The representative was said to be following up on both an AppleCare call and Genius Bar appointment involving the customer in July, just after Mac OS X Lion was released as an upgrade on the Mac App Store for US$29.99.

“My (MacBook Pro) battery life dropped precipitously after the install, and the Apple support team was clueless,” this person wrote. “It kind of ended there, until the phone call last week.”

The user was given the impression that Apple is still working on addressing the bug, as they were asked to send an e-mail back to the Apple technician sharing data from a number of tests. These tests included running commands in the terminal window of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

“I was told to expect a software update addressing the issue eventually,” they wrote.

Other users continue to detail their own problems with battery life after upgrading to Lion on Apple’s official Support Communities website. One thread has ballooned to more than 1,200 posts and 130,000 views, with more being added every day.

“After a full charge on my 17 inch (MacBook Pro), I booted up this morning and it took 5% of the battery to boot up,” user “DucatiMonster” wrote on Apple’s forums on Monday. “It said 2:52 minutes left, and now 20 minutes later it says 1:33 left. I will be lucky to get a full hour out of this battery that got 8 hours a couple days ago.”

The person later posted that their MacBook Pro, after upgrading to Lion, managed 2 hours and 24 minutes of uptime, most of it with the screen off. Another user, “Nickofari,” said they went through two calls to AppleCare and two Genius Bar visits to troubleshoot the problem, but no solutions have been provided.

“At the last Genius Bar appointment, they said I need to check-in my computer so they could diagnose the problem more deeply,” they wrote. “It’s a reasonable approach, but not for me. If I had an extra machine, I would do this, but as my (MacBook Pro) is my primary work computer and I can’t live without it. Even with AppleCare, Apple suggested that I buy into the US$499 Business Joint Venture Program so they might provide a loaner. Disappointing to be sure.”

If you’ve seen these concerns on your end, please let us know.

Scientists looking into methods of boosting consumer battery strengths via millions of tiny holes

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 08:27
Category: battery, News

Even if you’d like to throw your MacBook or MacBook Pro’s battery through a wall on occasion, there’s hope.

Per BBC News, a new battery development technique could allow batteries for phones and notebooks to recharge up to ten times faster and hold a charge ten times larger than current technology allows.

Scientists at Northwestern University in the US have changed the materials in lithium-ion batteries to boost their abilities.

One change involves poking millions of minuscule holes in the battery.

Batteries built using the novel technique could be in the shops within five years, estimate the scientists.

In essence, a mobile phone battery built using the Northwestern techniques would charge from flat in 15 minutes and last a week before needing a recharge.

The density and movement of lithium ions are key to the process.

Dr. Harold Kung and his team at Northwestern said they have found a way to cram more of the ions in and to speed up their movement by altering the materials used to manufacture a battery.

The maximum charge has been boosted by replacing sheets of silicon with tiny clusters of the substance to increase the amount of lithium ions a battery can hold on to.

The recharging speed has been accelerated using a chemical oxidation process which drills small holes – just 20-40 nanometers wide – in the atom-thick sheets of graphene that batteries are made of.

This helps lithium ions move and find a place to be stored much faster.

The downside is that the recharging and power gains fall off sharply after a battery has been charged about 150 times.

“Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today,” said lead scientist Prof Harold Kung from the chemical and biological engineering department at Northwestern.

So far, the work done by the team has concentrated on making improvements to anodes – where the current flows into the batteries when they are providing power.

The group now plans to study the cathode – where the current flows out – to make further improvements.

A paper detailing the work of Prof Kung and his co-workers has been published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available…and a MacBook Pro battery that charged in less than 15 minutes, the ladies would love it.

Apple reaching out to users for iPhone 4S battery life data, firmware update may be in the works

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 05:17
Category: battery, iPhone, News

With any luck, a firmware update will fix the issue.

Per The Guardian, responding to complaints of battery life issues with the iPhone 4S, engineers from Apple are said to have contacted customers directly in an effort to solve any issues.

One user who spoke with the newspaper said that he was contacted by Apple, and was asked to install a monitoring program on his phone. Apple’s engineers hope to be able to use the diagnostics to determine what is causing shorter battery life for some users, though the report said the problems are thus far “unexplained.”

The person said they were contacted by a senior engineer at Apple who read a post they made online, and indicated that the company was contacting users to resolve the problem. The Apple representative also allegedly admitted that the company isn’t “close to finding a fix.”

“(He) asked lots of questions about my usage and then asked if he could install the file… and that he would call back the day after to retrieve the info,” the person wrote. “I extracted the file from my Mac after a sync and mailed it to him. He was incredibly helpful and apologetic in the typical Apple way!”

Experiences of reduced battery life are supported by a growing thread on the Apple Support Communities website, where numerous users have found they experience significantly less uptime with the iPhone 4S. As of Friday afternoon, the thread as nearly 100,000 views and 1,300 replies.

“Glad to see people are talking about this,” user ‘telarium’ wrote. “My 4S battery life is terrible… even worse than my 3GS, even though all the settings are the same.”

Another user, ‘Frenzi,’ said they found some success by turning off many of the features on the phone, and only gradually re-enabling them as needed. Among the features disabled included sending of diagnostic data to Apple, automatically searching for Wi-Fi connections, automatic date and time, iTunes Ping, and even the Siri “raise to speak” feature. “The improvement has been nothing short of miraculous,” they wrote.

Still another user on the Apple Support Communities website, “Snowwolfwarrior,” said they spoke with an Apple technician who also gave them special software to install on their iPhone 4S. The software logs all of the usage from the handset over a 24-hour period, after which the user obtains the data and sends it back to the Apple technician.

When it was unveiled earlier this month, Apple claimed that the iPhone 4S had an increased battery talk time of eight hours. But standby battery time, when compared to the previous-generation iPhone 4, is advertised at 100 hours less.

In spite of this, the iPhone 4S does have a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 4, and includes an extra .05WHrs when compared to its predecessor. Apple also limited the amount of RAM in the iPhone 4S to 512MB, in an effort to conserve battery life.

The iPhone 4S includes the same A5 processor found earlier this year in the iPad 2. It is a dual-core chip that runs up to twice as fast as the A4, and includes graphics processing up to seven times faster with the SGX 543MP2 GPU.

If you’ve seen battery issues with your new iPhone 4S and want to throw your two cents in, let us know what’s on your mind via the comments.

Apple patents look into improved hydrogen fuel cells

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 20th, 2011, 16:13
Category: battery, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

It’s the patents that show where the nifty stuff might come from.

Per AppleInsider, a pair of new patent applications published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office demonstrate the work Apple has done internally on fuel cells. The filings describe how Apple could build the power sources smaller and lighter for portable devices.

The first application, entitled “Parallel Fuel Stack Architecture,” describes how Apple could arrange a set of fuel cells into a fuel stack. In the second filing, named “Reduced-Weight Fuel Cell Plate,” Apple describes how it could use lightweight electrically conductive and corrosion-resistant material to build a fuel cell.

The applications explain that fuel cells provide electrical power by converting a fuel, such as hydrogen or a hydrogen-containing compound, into an electric current. Fuel cells contain an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte between them.

In a fuel cell, a catalyst at the anode oxidizes the fuel and produces positively charged ions and electronics. Ions from the oxidization process then pass through to the cathode while blocking the passage of electrons, and the electrons then drive a load connected to the fuel cell.

For a waste product, the ions recombine with a negatively charged atom, such as oxygen, at the cathode. Any waste from a fuel cell escapes as carbon dioxide and/or water.

A fuel cell typically produces low voltages between 0.5 and 0.7 volts, requiring multiple fuel cells to be combined to create a fuel cell stack. But these stacks come with a number of inherent issues.

For starters, fuel cell stack architectures can have a single point of failure in a connected series. Fuel cells may also fail for a number of reasons, including accumulation of nitrogen in the anode, degradation of the electrolyte, or water flooding in the anode or cathode. Because of this, the reliability of a fuel cell stack can decrease as the number of cells in the stack grows.

Apple’s solution for this issue is to build multiple fuel cells connected in a parallel configuration by a power bus, along with a voltage-multiplying circuit to increase the voltage of the stack. In this way, the reliability of the stack would be increased while the fuel cells could also potentially power devices with higher operating voltages.

Another problem with fuel cells detailed by Apple is their bipolar plates are typically built with conductive and corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel, that are high in density and add weight to the fuel cells. A stack of cells, all made of stainless steel, can create a power source and portable device that are too heavy to be used practically.

To address this problem, Apple proposes arranging the fuel cells in a monopolar configuration to enable sharing of electrodes between adjacent fuel cells in the fuel stack. This sharing of electrodes could significantly reduce the number of electrodes in the fuel stack, and also enable the use of monopolar plates that are lighter and thinner.

In this method, Apple believes it could build a monopolar fuel cell stack that is both lighter and cheaper than a typical bipolar fuel cell stack. Even with the reduction in weight and cost, the filing says the stack could contain the same number of fuel cells, or even be more powerful than a traditional bipolar fuel cell stack of the same size.

Both patent applications, made public this week, were first filed with the USPTO in April of 2010. The parallel architecture filing is credited to Steven. C. Michalske and Bradley L. Spare, while the reduced weight application is credited to Vijay M. Iyer, Jean L. Lee and Gregory L. Tice.

Apple has frequently explored the possible use of alternative energy sources in its devices to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly. While the mention of fuel cells in an application from Apple is unique, the company has repeatedly explored the option of solar power in its portable electronics.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.