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I bought the MBP around 2016 April. Few months ago, around 2018 Nov, bottom of the device appears a bit uneven, with slight gap with my desk. Over past few months, it wobbles more and more serious. Today I brought it to Apple Store Singapore for diagnostic, specialist at Genius Bar confirmed that it's caused by swollen battery. Consider it was just after about 2.5 years use, I find it hard to believe. According to the staff, it depends on usage. If under heavy usage or often charge it overnight, it's normal that MacBook Pro's battery can become swollen pretty soon.

My battery charge cycle is under 300, battery life drops a bit but still strong (9 hours instead of 10). I rarely charge overnight, normally turn AC power off and leave my MBP in sleep mode. I do use my MBP heavily though, say 10 to 13 hours a day. However, I still find it hard to accept the explanation given by Apple Singapore. I wonder if other MBP 15" users experience the same? Or... am I the isolated case?

-- edit

To make the question more specific, is it generally expected that, Macbookpro battery will start swelling after 2-3 years use if laptop usage is heavy, e.g. 10-13 hours a day? The concern is not about the slightly reduced battery life (the battery life is still strong), but the physical expansion. I'm asking this because I've used few other laptops before, among which I never experience battery swelling except one (after near 5 years use). If the experience with my MBP is aligned with most other users, which means it's just a matter that I should adjust my expectation, and include the near SGD300 battery cost per 2-3 years into my next purchaser's consideration; Otherwise, I will try to ask them to consider replacing without me paying the full cost.

-- update 2019/6/21

Apple has just announced a battery recall for Macbook Pro 15" mid-2015 model. They confirmed that these batteries may pose fire safety risk: https://support.apple.com/en-sg/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall

  • I'm not sure what kind of answer you're looking for? Batteries can go bad after a few years, even Apple batteries. Recently, Apple had a replacement program for 2016/17 MBP 13in because of swollan batteries. – fsb May 2 '19 at 20:46
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    @fsb I've updated the question to make it clearer. – shiouming May 3 '19 at 0:09
  • It may be worthwhile to note here, that certain 2015 MBPs are now eligible to a battery recall: support.apple.com/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall – n1000 Jun 21 '19 at 14:34
  • Yup, I just read it today, mine is from the affected batch. I already done the repair at Apple Store last month and paid the battery replacement cost. Not sure if they will refund me though. Anyway I have to revisit Apple as the new speaker set which they installed on last month turned bad in just few days. My karma must be very poor, else I can't explain why am I getting two lemons continuously from Apple :P – shiouming Jun 21 '19 at 15:27
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No, it is not “generally expected” that batteries will swell after a certain amount of time.

What you have is a defective battery - it happens. It needs to be replaced.

The swelling is caused by trapped off gasses from the chemical reaction not venting properly. It could swell and not cause any issues or it could go into a condition known as thermal runaway where it will burst and catch fire igniting the off gasses in an uncontrolled manner.

This is not typical, but it does happen. Batteries, like everything else produced by humans, aren’t “faultless.” Trying to pin down how common it is, is like trying to determine your odds of getting a “lemon” Toyota. It’s rare, but it happens.

MacBooks from 2013 on started using batteries that were glued into place requiring you to replace the entire top case.

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  • When I hand in the MBP for repair, I had a chat with one of the Apple specialists. He did briefly mention about gas thingy (I don't quite understand though), and he said this is kind of normal. Based on his experience, he would expect battery to start giving this problem after one year plus if usage is heavy, or three year plus if not under heavy usage. Surprisingly, I learned from the visit that even without AppleCare+, the warranty covers battery expansion for 3 years. This is different from what I was told when I inquired authorised reseller two months ago at Malaysia. – shiouming May 5 '19 at 8:40
  • Since most users here believe this is not supposed to be the norm, I'm going to mark this answer as accepted. – shiouming May 5 '19 at 9:01
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Update: It may be worthwhile to note here, that certain 2015 MBPs are now eligible to a battery recall: https://support.apple.com/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall

Although I really like @Allan's compact answer (first version), I think the danger of a swollen battery should be stressed here.

  • "It happens", however, very rarely.
  • It is potentially dangerous as the battery may catch fire or explode.
  • The device should be disconnected from the power source and not be used anymore as of now.
  • The battery should be replaced immediately by a professional.
  • Store the computer in a fire-safe environment until you get it fixed.
  • In case it should catch fire, emit smoke or start smelling, do not use water when trying to extinguish it as Lithium reacts with water.

You find more info here: https://www.ifixit.com/Wiki/What_to_do_with_a_swollen_battery

A SWOLLEN LITHIUM-ION BATTERY MAY CATCH FIRE OR EXPLODE. PROCEED WITH EXTREME CAUTION AND AT YOUR OWN RISK WHEN REMOVING A SWOLLEN BATTERY FROM AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS ABOUT YOUR ABILITY TO DO SO SAFELY, POWER DOWN AND ISOLATE THE DEVICE, AND CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL REPAIR TECHNICIAN IMMEDIATELY.

Removing a swollen battery can be hazardous, but leaving a swollen battery inside a device also poses risks. To prevent potential device and bodily harm, a device should not operate with a swollen battery. These guidelines offer best practices for removing swollen batteries, but cannot guarantee a safe repair. If you have doubts, power the device down, place it in a fireproof container, take to a repair professional and ask them to remove the faulty battery. Do not delay battery removal. If your swollen battery was purchased from iFixit, take photos of the battery before and after removing it, then contact our customer service team for warranty claims or replacement.

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I purchased my mid-2015 15" MacBook Pro (top end model with dGPU) in 2016 with AppleCare. I had zero hardware issues with it in my 3 years of use. In August 2019 I read the news about the battery recall, so I visited Apple's website and typed in my Serial No. which said my machine was not covered in the recall. Since my AppleCare had just expired in July, and with nothing to lose, I decided to open my bottom lid to repaste the CPU and GPU (after seeing videos on the subject) and to clean out dust. To my surprise, I found my battery swollen. I was very surprised because my computer reported a 92% battery health and only 183 charge cycles over the 3 years of use (which is a very low cycle count).

When I telephoned Apple about my swollen battery, I asked if my leaving the MBP plugged into the official Apple power adapter most of the time could have led to a swollen battery. They told me, "No." They then told me, "it would be an inherent defect in the battery itself that would have led to it becoming swollen." Naturally I was not pleased with myself for waiting so long to open the bottom case and check. Had I done so during my AppleCare coverage (assuming the problem existed then), I could likely have avoided paying $200 to Apple for the replacement. But such also indicates that Apple's battery recall program is perhaps a bit limited in that it only covers a small number of 2015 15" models, whereas my case indicates there could be many more inherent battery defects which fall outside the coverage of the program.

I made a video about this topic today, showing my before and after battery condition:

https://youtu.be/Om1c-FCc5u0

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  • You're lucky to get away with $200! Here in Japan it will cost $800 to replace my MacBookPro12,1 battery (as quoted by Apple Service Tech). I ended up just buying a new computer. – phil Dec 18 '19 at 0:33
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    Actually, I am in Japan and used Apple Japan. I simply said "$200" because most people don't understand Japanese Yen. But the price was roughly ¥20,000 for the replacement, which included the 2 way shipping. So if Apple told you the cost would be $800 equivalent, you spoke to the wrong person! – JDW Dec 19 '19 at 3:03
  • I spoke to the tech company apple told me to on the apple site! Can you tell me how you contacted Apple?!? – phil Dec 19 '19 at 6:09
  • Prices shown here on Apple Japan's website, with links at the very bottom of the page (screw driver icon) to get started: support.apple.com/ja-jp/mac/repair/service – JDW Dec 20 '19 at 7:35
  • Sadly that is exactly what I did and they directed me - because I was out of apple care, so I can't do phone or chat - to phone their service company (Too) and they are the ones who quoted me 80000¥ – phil Dec 20 '19 at 11:11
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There are no guarantees how long any battery will last or that it will or will not swell up. I have had batteries last for 6 or 7 years before losing their ability to be recharged altogether that never swelled up. If you are still under warranty, you should take it back to where you purchased it for replacement. If not,then it will be up to you to buy a new battery but be careful of low quality replacement batteries. They may be cheaper, but may not last as long or hold the same amount of charge. The cheap battery also may not respond to requests from OS X or third party software as to it's status so you won't know if there is a problem until it becomes blatantly obvious. You do have to get that swelled up battery taken care of, though. It may still hold a good charge but swelling up means there is something wrong. You don't want it to ignite or explode when you're using it and cause yourself an injury. A good quality replacement battery is cheaper than a visit to the hospital with third degree burns.

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I too facing the same problem I bought MacBook Pro-2015 mid 15.4 inches on 2017 and used it very rarely even my cycle count is 88 but from past few months I was observing the same problems you mentioned where my MacBook battery is swelling I visited apple care and my warranty is expired on Sep 2018 bad luck I didn't opt for extended apple care plan so I need to pay for the new battery replacement it was ridiculous because Apple is replacing mac book pro 2015 13inch model battery for free of cost but they refusing it for 15inch model I contacted apple care but there is no proper response from them I hope they would consider all the 15inch customers pleas and replace the battery for free of cost

you see trackpad is throbbing out due to battery swelling

cannot close the MacBook lid due to the expansion of battery

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  • Apple Singapore staff at Genius Bar told me that 2015 15" model comes with 3 years warranty for swollen battery, 1 year warranty for other battery issue, even without buying AppleCare+. You should definitely check with Apple again, although I'm not sure if Apple's warranty coverage is consistent globally. In my case, my problem became serious enough to annoy me few weeks right after the 3 years mark, so I was asked to pay the part cost and labour cost (~SGD 340). The AppleCare+ is not worthy for our case anyway, as the price is higher than the battery replacement cost. – shiouming May 14 '19 at 14:40
  • hey thanks for the advice @shiouming I visited apple care and submitted my laptop for diagnosis and they found out manufacturing defect and replaced my battery and top case for free of charge – SANDEEP May 21 '19 at 10:15
  • Out of curiosity, may I know how do they identify if it's caused by manufacturing defect? Which country are you in? In my case, Apple only did visual inspection on external condition for drawing conclusion. – shiouming May 21 '19 at 13:43
  • @shiouming If it swells before 3 years of purchase they assume it's a manufacturing defect. I was told the same: 3 yrs warranty for the swollen battery even without AppleCare. I believe it is global... I purchased mine in the US but got it serviced in Spain for free (just a few months before the 3yr mark). See my answer below – zundi Oct 28 '19 at 0:47
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I have a mid 2015 15 inch retina Macbook Pro, and also had my battery swell. In my case it was on the top side, so my trackpad and keyboard were lifted and I was unable to close the laptop. Mine was not eligible for the recall others have linked to.

I use it normally plugged in and very rarely disconnect it (somewhere I had read that a low battery cycle count is a sign of a healthy battery, so I decided to keep it connected as much as possible). The person said this could happen because it is plugged in all the time. He recommended to let the battery fully discharge at least once a week or two.

Even though mine is not longer under warranty, he said that if this occurs within 3 years of purchase it is considered a manufacturing defect and the battery (and case) are replaced free of charge (I purchased it in the US but took it to an Apple Store in Spain and even here I was not charged). In my case this occurred about 2.5 months before the 3 years, so I was lucky in this sense. The replacement of battery and case would have cost 176€, so even then it would have been a reasonable price.

After the battery and case are installed, there is an additional 6 months of warranty for these parts.

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