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I know that one of the big innovations in the MacBook Air was in the battery (which gets most of the internal volume of the computer!)

What is a normal loss of battery life (change in usable time on battery starting from a full charge) for a mid-2011 13" MacBook Air? After how many charge cycles does one expect to see a substantial reduction in usable time? Is there any recommended course of action for someone to take to slow or reverse this degradation once it begins?

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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Battery Life

Apple's documentation states that the battery of the Macbook Air performs just like the batteries of the Macbook Pro:

  • The built-in battery of your MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air is designed to deliver up to 1000 full charge and discharge cycles before it reaches 80 percent of its original capacity.
  • In addition, Adaptive Charging reduces the wear and tear on the battery giving it a lifespan of up to 5 years.
  • During this lifespan the batteries will have a fast charge to 80% of the current battery capacity (2-3 hours). [source]

    enter image description here

Battery Maintenance

  • Do not leave your Macbook plugged in all the time. The battery juices need to move from time to time. It's recommended that you charge and discharge the battery at least once per month.

  • Temperature: Keeping your Mac at room temperature (22°C/72°F) is ideal.

    enter image description here

  • Long Term Storage: Apple recommends that you store the battery with a 50% charge, if you are not planning on using it for at least half a year.

The innovation in the design of the battery of the Macbook Air was not about increasing capacity, but about the ability to manufactures them very thin. The batteries of the Macbook Air are located towards the thin end of the Macbook Air.

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The real revolution in Apple's battery technology seems to be the combination of adaptive charging, better use of multiple cell collections and better chemistry in the individual cell units that make up the battery. Whereas you could pretty much count on the pre-unibody batteries to start showing their age at the 200 cycle counts and the majority of cells not being useful between 350 and 450 cells. Now the majority of batteries are never wearing out after 4 years and far more common for batteries to be lasting past 1000 cycles as a matter of routine. –  bmike Mar 18 '12 at 19:47
    
@bmike The old batteries I have provide decent capacities (~80%) after about 450 cycles. But the time that they need to recharge is just very, very long. –  gentmatt Mar 18 '12 at 19:55
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I don't know what the expected life is (although the specs on the Apple website are always pretty accurate for me) - but of course it depends on your usage.

As far as I understand it, the MBA batteries are of a similar design to the MBP ones of the same generation. I always link to this page (which is on the Apple Discussions site) about preserving battery life - as I've followed it as closely to the letter as I can, and I still get a good 85-90% of the life out of my two-year old pro. I've quoted some below.

Do’s & Don’ts

DO use your battery frequently and lightly, ideally completing 1-2 charge cycles per week (minimum one charge cycle per month).

DO properly calibrate your battery when new and approximately every 2-3 months thereafter.

DON’T fully discharge your battery frequently (the infrequent, periodic calibration is an exception).

DON’T store your battery (or your computer) in a high temperature environment, such as the trunk of a car, especially a fully-charged battery.

DON’T run your MacBook or MacBook Pro on AC power with the battery removed.

Note: I had a quick look and the pro and air batteries are the same material, so the above instructions will work well for them too.

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Although the air batteries and the pro batteries share many of the common care tips - the Air batteries by nature of being so thin seem to charge slower and be more prone to failure if you subject them to high temperatures. The good thing is that both are inexpensive to replace and are commonly covered by Apple when they fail to perform before 1000 duty cycles whether you have the one year warranty or the three year care plan. –  bmike Mar 18 '12 at 19:52
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I believe this question will probably tell you a lot about the Macbook's battery.

And, however this movie is about the 2009 MacBook Pro, the same technique is used in the 2011 MacBook Air. Which will allow you to charge your MacBook Air about a 1000 times before the battery is dead. (Which in that case, you probably could use it anyway, but not on the 8h lifespan)

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It's not very helpful to just point to other websites as links may break. Please rephrase needed content. Also, the information of your fist link is outdated. –  gentmatt Mar 18 '12 at 15:09
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Based on my personal experience with my wife's MacBook Air 13" i5, and my 11" i5, I would say, on average (just browsing the web, typing, email, watch a few YouTube videos, etc.), the 13" models will get 5-6 hours, while the 11" models will get 3-4 hours.

One thing that has helped both of us keep getting an extra hour or two is the installation of FlashBlock in Chrome. Every time you load a site with flash ads or videos (besides YouTube), the fans go on after a minute, and processor activity jumps to 50-100%. Just leaving the window open, and doing nothing else, battery life is usually halved.

I would dump flash altogether, but there are one or two sites I visit that only use flash for video :(

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