Battery tales and bruised egos
how far should one go for a battery change? Really?
My primary machine is a Mac Mini with two large 4K monitors. I also used a hand-me-down notebook computer from my daughter, an early 2015 MacBook Pro retina which is 7 years old as my secondary machine. Recently the notebook battery has degraded to an hour of use, compared to the nine hours a new battery used to offer.
I am in a few weeks undergoing major surgery so decided to get the battery upgraded so that I could have a fully functional laptop for use during my recovery period. So, how does one get a battery changed and how far should one go?
I went to school in the computer age and since my late teen years have been hands-on with computers. I should have put together, upgraded, and troubleshot a couple of hundred of them in my lifetime.
So, the first step was to figure out whether I could do it myself. There were different battery vendors selling mostly Chinese-made counterfeit (or replacement) batteries with hundreds of reviews. In today’s product review space, there is a thriving business to sell five-star and four-star reviews (by the 1,000’s of course) so I tend not to read the good reviews at all. Reading the bad 1-star and 2-star reviews gives a more clear story and patterns emerge. These batteries had huge install problems and high failure rates and though I would save 50% over a replacement battery, this route might not lead to a permanent fix. So, I gave up on these as an option.
Except one. Which was iFixIt.com and they had excellent reviews, great videos on how to get the job done and the price was about $50 less overall compared to the Apple service option. I spent an hour reviewing the videos and found that quickly changing this particular model’s battery will take me 2-3 hours of my time. The repairability score of this particular MacBook Pro model was a 1/10. The battery is glued to the body at four different places and needs to be unglued and reglued as part of the replacement process. Heavily loaded towards servicing by the manufacturer rather than through a personal hobbyist approach to fixing it.
Finally, the decision was made. It was not worth the trouble at all. It is worth having a bruised male ego (I am stereotyping) and worth not being a real man sometimes, whatever “real” means. So, with my tail tucked between my legs, I went down to the Apple Service center and dropped off the computer for service in order to get the battery replaced. And it should be back sometime next week.
PS: After I came back from the store, I got a call back from Apple service - it is easier for them to replace all of the boards that control the keyboard and the trackpad along with the battery as well as a brand new keyboard that is again fused to the control boards. So, net of it not only am I getting the battery replaced, but I also get a new keyboard and logic boards that control it. Now, this would not happen if I did it as a home-brew project and Apple can afford to do it this way for whatever price they had earlier committed to me. So, I am hoping that in the end, all's well that ends well.