Notebook Users Report Battery Errors Under Snow Leopard, Workarounds/Fixes Suggested

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Date: Thursday, January 7th, 2010, 06:43
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

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Since installing it, I have to admit that I like Snow Leopard and it has yet to kick my pets or burn my apartment to the very ground.

These are good things.

Even so, per CNET, a large number of MacBook and MacBook Pro owners have noticed a problem with the computer frequently displaying a “Service Battery” warning in the battery system menu. This also seems to be coupled with relatively short battery life, either with the battery discharging rapidly or with the computer going to sleep but still reporting high percentage of charge left in the battery. As of the Mac OS 10.6.2 update, affected users are still experiencing the problem.

This problem appears to be an issue with Snow Leopard’s handling of the battery hardware, where the services that are supposed to detect battery problems are incorrectly reporting the battery status, and subsequently triggering the system to go into a precautionary sleep mode or claiming the battery is draining. This theory is backed up by the fact that affected people who have downgraded back to Leopard either by reinstalling, restoring from backup, or even booting off the 10.5 Leopard DVD have not had the problem occur on the same hardware.

A recent TUAW article suggests this behavior stems from Snow Leopard being fine-tuned to reveal existing battery problems that Leopard was not aware of. While this may be the case for some people, the sheer number of people reporting the problem indicates there may be errors in the software. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to discern those with pre-existing battery problems from those with healthy batteries.

In order to address the issue, the article offers the following tips to help sort things out via the mighty Apple Knowledge Base:

- Calibrating the battery

- Resetting the PRAM

- Resetting the SMC

Strangely, the battery issues have cleared for a few users who have just shut down and restarted their systems on a regular basis. While keeping the power supply plugged in to prevent any issued with the battery, they’ve turned off the machine and rebooted to see the battery being normally recognized. This suggests the problem may be with a setting more than a specific bug, that hopefully can be reset by a full restart. MacBook owners may tend to sleep their systems instead of restarting them, which will keep various settings from being refreshed.

Further supporting the claim of software issues in Snow Leopard is that some users have cleared the problem by booting into 64-bit mode. If you do not have any software that requires a 32-bit kernel and system extensions, try booting into 64-bit mode by restarting and holding down the “6″ and “4″ keys simultaneously. For some the problem has returned when booted back into 32-bit mode, but for others the switch to 64-bit mode has fixed it even when booted into 32-bit mode.

Another suggestion to address this problem is to remove the power management system preferences, which contains parameters that determine how the system will behave when running on either AC power, battery, or a UPS. This file is called “com.apple.PowerManagement.plist” and is located in the /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ folder, and can be removed without harming anything. This isn’t a fix, however, and those who have done this have found it only seems to temporarily remove the warning in the battery system menu, and does not address the underlying issue.

Lastly, the issue may lie with the upgrade process itself, where settings for Leopard are not working with Snow Leopard. The temporary successes with removal of the Power Management property list suggests this may be a possibility. As a result, try booting off a clean OS installation of Snow Leopard to test the hardware.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end of have found a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.

Tales of Getting a MacBook Pro Battery Replaced

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 3rd, 2009, 07:29
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, Opinion

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Blogger David Alison describes a process many of you have been through: going to an Apple Store with a nigh-dead MacBook Pro battery here and the details therein.

The piece also links to Apple’s terms as to which batteries are covered under an AppleCare plan, the company’s page on battery care and how to do a battery calibration via an Apple Knowledge Base article.

It’s a useful read, so give it a gander and if you have any MacBook Pro battery replacement stories of your own, please let us know.

iFixIt Posts Teardown Gallery, Video for White Unibody MacBook

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 22nd, 2009, 05:17
Category: Hardware, MacBook

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On Tuesday, the ultimate nerds over at iFixIt published a full teardown gallery of Apple’s new white unibody MacBook laptop that is in turn replacing the low-end US$999 white polycarbonate MacBook notebook.

Some of the major changes include:

- Polycarbonate unibody construction.

- Display featuring LED backlighting.

- A multi-touch glass trackpad.

- Integrated battery.

- No more FireWire or IR port.

- No external battery indicator.

- No Mini-DVI port, replaced by a Mini DisplayPort.

iFixit has highlighted several interesting aspects of the new design:

-The new battery is only 5 more watt-hours than the previous version’s yet it adds two hours of run time, meaning the machine is markedly more efficient.

-The battery is actually lighter than the older model.

-Unlike the earlier model, AirPort and Bluetooth share the same board, and all three antenna cables route into the display, meaning a possible improvement in Bluetooth range.

-The MacBook has exactly the same GPU and CPU as the baseline 13″ MacBook Pro.

Since a picture’s worth quite a few words, take a gander at the video:



Head on over, take a gander and if you pick up a new unit for yourself, let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Apple Releases Unibody MacBook to Replace White MacBook Design

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 21st, 2009, 04:21
Category: Hardware, MacBook, News

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Apple Inc. on Tuesday announced an updated, unibody version to its low end MacBook notebook. The new model, available immediately, is still covered in white polycarbonate but features the same unibody construction and bright LED-backlit screens as Apple’s other laptops, as well as the same glass multi-touch trackpad found in the MacBook Pro line.

According to Macworld, the new 13.3″ MacBook still retails for US$999, but is powered by a 2.26GHz processor. It also features 2GB of 1066MHz RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics chip, and a 250GB hard drive.

The new notebook weighs in at 4.7 pounds compared to 5 pounds for the old design and now features a non-swappable battery. Apple says that will boost battery life for the MacBook to seven hours, up from five hours in the previous model; it also means users will have to pay US$129 for replacement batteries from Apple. As a result of the battery change, the bottom of the laptop has no feet—instead, the entire bottom surface is rubberized, save for eight screws.

The redesigned MacBook case introduces at least one other change from the previous model—the FireWire 400 port is gone and Apple’s MacBook Pro offerings are now the only Apple portables with FireWire ports.

If you want to vent your spleen about the new notebook, let us know in the comments.

Apple Hunting Down Feedback from iPhone 3GS Users Citing Poor Battery Life

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 21st, 2009, 04:52
Category: iPhone, News

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Albeit Apple is not openly acknowledging the issue, it’s taking the “shy kid” approach to reaching a solution. Per iPhone Blog, Apple is apparently seeking feedback from iPhone users over claims that the recent iPhone 3.1 Software Update is draining batteries.

Short battery life has been a concern since the introduction of the iPhone 3GS amongst many users, despite Apple promising improved performance at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple said the iPhone 3GS would deliver 9 hours of use on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback and 30 hours of music on a single charge, about a 30% upgrade to the iPhone 3G.

However, a recent teardown by iFixit noted that the iPhone 3GS’s battery was just 6% more powerful than the battery in its predecessor.

Recently, the company has contacted a number of users on Apple’s discussion boards who have posted negative comments asking for feedback. A list of 11 questions – covering e-mail, push notifications, Wi-fi, Bluetooth and application use – is being sent out reports The iPhone Blog.

The note also contains an attachment which, when double-clicked, installs what looks like an unsigned profile, which apparently enables Battery Life Logging on the iPhone.

Once enabled, the iPhone will sync power logs back via iTunes, and they ask that those logs be sent back to Apple reports the The iPhone Blog.

The blog notes this isn’t the first time Apple, via AppleCare, has contacted iPhone users after posts on the company’s discussion boards.

It is not known what percentage of iPhone owners might be experiencing the problem.

NewerTech Releases Intelligent Battery Charging Station for Apple Unibody Notebook Batteries

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 7th, 2009, 06:26
Category: Accessory, MacBook, MacBook Pro, News

newertechcharger

Yesterday, accessory provider NewerTech announced the release of its Intelligent Battery Charging Station, a peripheral designed to charge and condition the batteries used by Apple’s 13″ and 15″ unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.

The unit features two bays (one that charges while the other charges and conditions) and NewerTech claims that by conditioning the battery, you can get longer runtimes and better lifetimes from your laptop batteries. The charger retails for US$150 before shipping and handling.

iPhone 3GS Users Noticing Poor Battery Life on Handset

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009, 04:36
Category: iPhone 3GS

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In spite of Apple’s claims that the iPhone 3GS boasts “longer battery life”, some users are complaining that the new handset actually has less battery life than the previous model.

Per The Apple Core and a recent iFixIt teardown, the company noticed the the 3GS battery is 6% larger than the iPhone 3G battery, leading many to suspect that iPhone OS 3.0 may be the culprit.

ComputerWorld followed up on this by noting that users have been reporting worse battery life on all iPhones since the day the iPhone OS 3.0 was released:

“After updating to [iPhone] 3.0 the battery life is very short. It consumes 5%-10% an hour,” claimed an original iPhone user identified as “ukfasthands” in a message posted on Apple’s support forum June 17.

If you’re afflicted you’ll most likely have to wait until Apple releases iPhone OS 3.1, or if we’re lucky, some battery improvement could come with the security update that’s been promised for the end of July. In the mean time, try implementing some of the following iPhone battery savings tips, including:

1. Minimize use of location services
2. Turn off push notifications
3. Fetch new data less frequently
4. Turn off push mail
5. Auto-check fewer email accounts
6. Minimize use of third-party applications
7. Turn off Wi-Fi
8. Turn off Bluetooth
9. Use Airplane Mode in low- or no-coverage areas
10. Adjust brightness
11. Turn off EQ
12. Turn off 3G

Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to Offer Warning for Near-Dead Notebook Batteries

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 17th, 2009, 18:06
Category: Software

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While the immediate charge on a Mac notebook’s battery has been available for years, Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) users will be able to see when their batteries are nearing the end of their useful lifespans.

According to AppleInsider, the Mac OS X 10.6 build offered to Worldwide Developers Conference sports a feature in which clicking the battery icon in the menu bar now shows a new, one-word “battery condition” summary in addition to the energy for the current charge and the power source.

When the battery has been used often enough that it ‘s losing capacity, the icon is overlaid with an exclamation mark warning and the battery condition changes to “poor” — both signs that the pack is due to be replaced. While not every condition is known, Snow Leopard presumably reports varying degrees of battery status when the pack has only been moderately used or is like new.

Though Apple has yet to document the reasons behind the change, the most logical explanation is simply that the company’s decision to seal in most notebook batteries makes it more important to have an early notice that a battery is near failing.

Apple has lately been paying closer attention to battery life on all its devices and with iPhone OS 3.0 will add a numerical percentage to the iPhone’s previously icon-only battery indicator.

iFixIt Posts Full 13″ Unibody MacBook Pro Disassembly/Report

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 11th, 2009, 17:58
Category: MacBook Pro, Pictures

With Apple’s new 13″ Unibody MacBook Pro (formerly the MacBook) having been released, the guys at iFixIt did what they do best: making a mess of the latest Apple hardware and reporting on it.

Over in their latest teardown, the guys have dug into Apple’s newest notebook and discovered some cool stuff, such as a similar battery architecture to the 17″ unibody MacBook Pro, the new .5″ SD card slot and how to cleanly remove the logic board if necessary.

Take a gander and let us know what you think!

iPhone “3GS” Code Name Leaked, New Unit to Feature Longer-Lasting Battery

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 8th, 2009, 08:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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With only hours to go before Phil Schiller’s keynote address at the 2009 Worldwide Developers Conference, a couple of interesting details have emerged.
According to Daring Fireball, the third-generation iPhone is code-named “iPhone 3GS.” The code name could tie into the Apple IIGS, which shipped in 1986.
The other interesting rumor is that battery life on the new iPhone is 15-20% longer than the iPhone 3G. This will have to be seen and tested, but would prove to be an extremely welcome change if true.
If you have any ideas as to what to expect from the keynote, let us know.