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17″ Macbook Pro Battery: Revolutionary or a Deal-breaker?

At Macworld ‘09, Apple’s Phil Schiller introduced the brand new 17″ unibody Macbook Pro. Aside from unveiling natural design changes, the new notebook was introduced with what Apple calls a “revolutionary new battery.”

battery lifeThe brand new battery has been designed and developed by Apple specifically for the new 17″ Macbook Pro. In a nutshell, when designing replaceable batteries, a lot of space is wasted using latches, levers, clasps and closures. Apple drew inspiration from the Macbook Air and integrated a battery that isn’t user replaceable, so these space wasting latches and levers weren’t needed. This way, they could design a battery that seamlessly flowed with the rest of the notebook’s design. Additionally, it allowed Apple to efficiently design the battery with power management and allocating resources throughout the machine.

They tout the battery as having a 40% greater capacity than anything else on the market, as well as explain that the battery can take nearly 1,000 recharges, which equates to a 5 year lifespan.

To give the 17-inch MacBook Pro the biggest battery possible without adding size or weight, Apple engineers eliminated all the parts required of a removable battery and embedded the battery into the notebook. This created enough space for a battery with 40 percent greater capacity — one that can run for up to 8 hours on a single charge.

While the new approach to longer battery life is sure a welcome relief, especially from Apple. Could the direction and conceptual reasoning behind it be a bit too much form over function? Perhaps Apple could have focused on making the battery gain a 20% capacity (instead of 40%) and focus on making the swapping process smooth, seamless and simple. Maybe even include hot swapping so the user never needs to turn off the machine, so long as it is plugged in.

Surely potential owners of the 17″ Macbook Pro are traveling as much as they are sitting at a desk. But those same professionals are bound to pay attention to their battery life meter. If not, OS X has handy alerts that notify the user when the battery is running low. The moments when a 17″ Macbook Pro user is away from a power outlet for more than 5 or 6 hours are few and far between. In general, the concept of packing or traveling with an additional battery, which could in essence garner 10+ hours of battery life instead of 8, might have been the better direction. Especially if it was hot swappable.

The current unibody Macbooks and Macbook Pros have an extremely welcomed battery compartment which offers easy access to vital internals, as well as the hard drive. The picture below depicts this well.

15″ unibody Macbook Pro battery compartment

In direct comparison to this, Apple’s new 17″ Macbook Pro does not offer any access into the machine as described above. Instead, it is wrapped seamlessly within the unibody enclosure. Owners have no access to the battery. However, when the alleged 5 year lifespan comes around, Apple will offer a battery replacement option for $179. The picture below depicts this well.

17″ unibody Macbook Pro, no battery compartment

This puts the 17″ Macbook Pro, which is the highest end of Apple’s portable machines, and the Macbook Air in the same category when it comes to user replaceable batteries. As with replacing Ram on the Macbook Pro, Apple claims it to be an easy process.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro supports up to 8GB of 1066MHz DDR3 memory and comes with a large 320GB hard drive,4 so there’s plenty of room for your photo and video projects and other files. It also offers an optional 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive, which has no moving parts for enhanced durability. And for burning DVDs, it includes an ultrafast 8x SuperDrive. You can upgrade the memory and hard drive yourself, or take it to an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

The new 17″ Macbook Pro will be shipping at the end of January and be available at the Online Apple Store.

Comments [7]

7 Comments to “17″ Macbook Pro Battery: Revolutionary or a Deal-breaker?”

CDOHEARME @ January 12th, 2009 at 1:20 pm
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How about…… Revolutionary DealBreaker ?!?!? See what I did there ;)


Aviv @ January 12th, 2009 at 2:22 pm
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Well played sir. Well played.


David Russell @ January 15th, 2009 at 5:02 am
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Deal breaker. A £1500 laptop that is effectively disposable (the ‘battery replacement program’ is actually ‘hand in your own, new-to-you machine and get someone else’s second hand refurbished one back’) is pathetic even by Apple’s ripoff standards.


sampan @ January 19th, 2009 at 6:59 am
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I like notebook-macbook verymuch because it’s the future computer


Nubo @ May 8th, 2009 at 1:33 pm
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Are these the same people that moaned when Apple took away the floopy drive? “It’ll never work!!!” :) For me, an 8 hour battery that I don’t have to fuss with for 5 years sounds wonderful. Secondly, anyone who can read and has 2 useful hands will be able to replace their own battery when the time comes. The case is not welded shut, you just have to undo a few screws and have a good online take-apart guide –they’re already out there. Far preferable to having to scrub the hard-disk, install a base OS, take it for service, restore the disk… Don’t EVER take/send a computer for service with data on the hard drive!!!


Aaron B @ September 9th, 2009 at 11:12 am
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How many people actually own two notebook computer batteries anyways? I don’t know what the big deal is. If you need portable power get a $100 gas powered generator for camping, and or grab a car battery $50 and 40watt sine wave inverter $40 and there you go, dozens of hours of power on the go. Likewise there are power outlets to the US grid almost everywhere in the States. Airplanes have power outlets, and so do cars. So get over your self. If you are staring at the screen for 7 hours straight, then something is wrong with you,,, get a life or plug it in. Apple builds very solid well design functional hardware with a great OS, very much unlike the netbook’s produced by the others. Plastic cases are wack, and LED backlighting kicks CCFL in the nuts for response time, color richness, and power consumption– mercury free too! Plug that in your windows 7~


Aaron B @ September 9th, 2009 at 11:21 am
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Oh, and another thing, macbooks run vista better than most non-apple vista machines; bootcamp said what? Windows = unstable, unsecure, memory hog, hardware hog, GPU CPU hog, hard disk hog, update hog, latency hog, freeze champion, system hang— black/ blue screen of memory dump fun. Apple’s taste great, windows are inefficient! IPOD Touch said what? IPHONE said What? Macbook said what? Sure they cost more, but you are paying for quality. Mac’s are like the Lexus of computers: quality inside and out; built to function and built to last, efficient and fast. The latest version of OSX is smooth as silk, and you show me a windows machine that can shut down in 2 seconds safely. You show me a windows computer that has a GUI as clean as OSX. You show me a version of windows built on a UNIX base that can do what the mac can do and then we can have a debate, otherwise you have nothing worthwhile to say to downplay the quality of apple’s products!