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MacBook Pro battery case ruptures, Apple refuses replacement

updated 02:35 pm EDT, Tue September 29, 2009

Incident matches reports from Apple online store

MacNN reader Robert-Anthony Bunoan has voiced frustration with Apple after the battery in his 17-inch MacBook Pro reportedly swelled to the point of rupturing the case. The notebook was approximately two years old, with a removable battery instead of the integrated lithium-polymer design featured in the latest aluminum-unibody models.

Bunoan claims he ran a Disk Utility scan as a potential remedy for a trackpad problem. Several hours after the scan was finished, the MacBook housing was still hot and the device appeared to be lifted in the front.

"I quickly turned the laptop over and noticed a huge bump of 8 mm in height, coming out of the computer, on the battery's surface as if it was hit from the inside," says Bunoan.

After contacting Apple Support and sending along photos, the company allegedly refused to replace the faulty component. The customer service representatives recommended that he purchase a new battery, as it is not considered "part of the computer."

The swelled battery does not appear to be an isolated incident. The replacement battery has received a variety of similar reviews on Apple's online store. "Count me in as another victim of the battery bulge," writes BB from Santa Fe. "And it's not one, but TWO 17" MacBook Pros."

Apple has been similarly criticized for its handling of iPod batteries that have reportedly exploded or ignited. The company's lawyers allegedly attempted to block a Freedon of Information Act request for documents relating to the fires. Over 800 pages of relevant material described at least 15 different incidents, despite the denial of such problems when customers contact Apple following issues with burning iPods.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This is not what an explosion looks like

  1. davlab

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple replaced mine

    The battery on my 17" MacBook Pro swelled up (not quite as badly as the one illustrated) and quit holding a charge in 2-3 days about 5 months ago. It was about 20 months old and out of warranty. I brought it to the nearest Apple Store (Baton Rouge) and they looked at it and gave me a new battery with no questions asked.

  1. joecab

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Where the kaboom?

    There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom.

  1. johncarync

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not News

    This isn't news to me. We have a dozen 15" and 17" MacBooks from this era and they ALL have required battery replacement after two years. All of the batteries expanded--some worse than the photos in this story.

    One interesting piece of info to add to the puzzle: we have two MacBooks that are slightly newer (6 months with slightly faster processors) and their batteries have not expanded. So it may be the charging circuitry in the older MacBooks causing these batteries to expand.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No boom?

    Perhaps deformed would have been a better choice of words, though it appears much like one might expect from an explosion (minus the singe marks, broken plastic bits, battery chemicals splashed about...).

    One thing to remember when dealing with this sort of thing is to handle the component as little as possible. Applying clamps doesn't really fit that handling idea.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The battery was glad to see you

    One time an Apple rep said that it was 'normal'. I asked him to have it in writing.

    The tune changed.

  1. AlenShapiro

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The trackpad and battery problem are related?

    I've had two laptop batteries replaced that had become "pillows" in each case the trackpad had stopped working as a result of pressure the expanding battery was putting on the underside of the trackpad mechanism. It is likely that the reporting user's actual sequence of events was that the battery started to expand, it interfered with the trackpad, the user ran the disk check utility and then noticed the expanding battery as it deformed its enclosure.

    The word "expansion" may be substituted for "explosion" in my experiences of this phenomenon. The process was not violent.

    Each time Apple replaced the battery with no fuss. In a similar occurrence, where a friend of mine's battery deformed their laptop's outer shell (causing the DVD player to "smile") Apple replaced both halves of the lower laptop shell - again with no fuss.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No, it needs to be "explodes"

    Wouldn't generate any hits otherwise.

    After-all, this has been happening with complete regularity ever since the Sony battery debacle on machines of that generation.

    Another ho-hum day in Mac News Land.

    Wait, no - A BATTERY ASPLODED! OMFG!!!!1!1!1

  1. drdidg

    Joined: Dec 1969


    3 for me

    I had 3 of them go on me now for the 17". First gen 17" Intel and I got a spare one for when needed. Both of those were replaced and even one of my replacements did the same and started to expand. Down to my last one now and hoping it does not go.

  1. Xinnix

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Seen it

    I've had a couple of my customers who have had the same problem with their batteries.

    The difference here is, they all admitted that they had been running their laptops or left them running on their beds or pillows, etc, and not on a hard flat surface!

    I'd be willing to bet that this guy isn't telling whole truth?

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