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Device: M1 pro Macbook pro, 16'', 16GB memory, 512GB SSD

Service Recommended

A month back, the battery icon suddenly showed an 'X' mark with the 'Service Recommended' warning.

  • The power source was shown as power adapter. So the laptop would switch off immediately whenever unplugged.
  • The maximum battery capacity was shown as 85%
  • Glitchily, the cycle count was shown as 0
  • Until now, I rarely ever heard the fan, but now it was almost always on

enter image description here

Apple Service

When SMC reset/safe mode/apple diagnostic didn't help, I took it to the official apple authorised service centre:

  • Reinstalling the OS didn't fix it
  • They checked the hardware and didn't find any physical damage/swelling etc

They told me it's a "battery issue" since their diagnostic said so and since its in the "service recommended" state, the only option is to replace the battery. When asked then what exactly the issue in the battery is, they said it's "completely dead" (when in fact it shows 85%).

After Sonoma Update

After I updated to macOS Sonoma from Ventura, temporarily

  • The power source was back to Battery, so the laptop wouldn't shut down immediately after unplugging
  • Cycle count was properly shown as 286
  • The device actually worked fine on battery. It was holding power like normal, and I'm pretty sure it could give me 10+ hours of battery life from the way it was draining.

enter image description here

But after a restart, the condition is back to how it was previously. (X symbol)

Main Issue

Based on the observations after the update, the issue is clearly software related. My guess is that there should be some glitch in how the OS is interacting with battery. (0 cycle count)

I don't mind the 85% capacity. I'm OK with using it mostly while plugged in. But I'm NOT OK with it switching off every time there is a power outage or I unplug it temporarily. I at least want to be able to unplug it for few minutes at a time, to move around, without it dying on me.

My only option right now is to downgrade to Ventura, then upgrade to Sonoma again, and never restart the laptop ever again, unless there is a workaround for the blocked battery.

Summary

Macbook battery has degraded to 85%. I'm okay with the lesser battery life, but currently, since power source is forced to be power adapter, it's unsuable when unplugged. Is there a workaround to this, so that I can continue to use it on battery power?

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Even though you're getting slightly different behaviour on a different OS (which I don't think is significant), you've already had confirmation from an Apple Store that this is a hardware problem, which requires a hardware solution: namely, a replacement battery.

I'm quite surprised that an M1 16" MBP should have already failed within the 2 years that they've been out. The standard lifespan is around 1000 cycles; so I suspect you were very unlucky and got a duff battery. (Unless you were exposing it to extremes of temperature, and regularly leaving it at 0%.)

You might see if Apple will replace it gratis, if you can persuade them that it is defective, rather than just 'used up'. (I usually find you get better results by smiling than finger-poking.)

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  • I'm inclined to take the Apple service review with a pinch of salt, since they didn't find any physical damage/swelling and they aren't authorized to check the internals of the battery, thus being unable to point to an exact cause for the issue. The safe, out of book (and profitable) answer for them would then be a battery replacement. But what if it's actually a software issue which managed to crawl through their diagnostic? Oct 7, 2023 at 13:28
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    @BharathHegde They can get all kinds of information from the battery controller; which may not point to the cause, but will certainly point to the effect. They only offer battery replacement when certain criteria are met. If this were an OS issue, then I would expect to see many similar reports on MacRumors, etc.
    – benwiggy
    Oct 7, 2023 at 15:30
  • Then I guess I got unlucky with a defective battery, since I believe I have fairly good charging habits and rarely do very performance heavy work on it. If only the signs started showing within the warranty period; will contact (with a smile) Apple anyway as a last hope. Oct 7, 2023 at 15:38

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