How useful or necessary is it to calibrate the battery on a MacBook?

If it is, should it be carried out when first purchased and does calibration of the battery mean it will also last longer?

  • That's a good question. Apple used to advise doing this but I never hear about it anymore. I don't know if they gave up on it for lack of interest on users' part or they changed the battery formula such that it's not needed. You never hear about doing it on an iOS device and they all use LiON batteries too, right? – Richard Nov 30 '12 at 15:03
  • Thx for your response Richard, I'm not sure of how much value it is, although I know Battery Calibration exists, whether it was done or is still being done (for performance issues ?) i'm not sure. I agree with what you are saying about perhaps it is no longer needed as the battery formula may have changed. Its interesting you say that you never hear about it for iOS devices, because I've heard about it for android smartphones. Hopefully someone can provide further "insight" – Simon Nov 30 '12 at 15:08

There is almost no value in a user trying to "calibrate" a unibody MacBook's internal battery since it has multiple cells and the system handles this continually.

Older MacBook that were non-unibody construction with removable batteries did benefit periodic calibration runs to update the Mac's estimation of time remaining. Calibration didn't actually give you more power, just a more accurate estimate of the time remaining before that battery needs a recharge.

If you seek to extend the time between when you buy a battery (or computer) and the time when it needs to be replaced three things will help prolong the useful life of your battery.

  • Discharging it until the Mac sleeps at least once every month or two.
  • Not letting it drain totally for months.
  • Avoid exceeding the re-charge cycles (new models typically are rated for 5 years and 1000 equivalent charge cycles).
  • Avoid storage in very hot temperatures and use (charging / discharge) in hot temperatures.

In the end, you might pay between $100 and $150 for a new battery, but something that happens once every 3 to 4 years, Apple's new battery technology is far better than the old days where heavy users needed a new battery yearly and failures were far more common.

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  • Thanks for your response bmike, so as long as unibodied Macbooks are produced calibration goes out the window. Is a Macbook Air unibodied as well ? – Simon Nov 30 '12 at 15:28
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    Yes - Every Air fits into the new battery scheme and is also considered unibody construction. They self-calibrate continually. All machines where the battery is sealed inside the case are considered unibody construction. Same with the Retina models. Only iBooks and older PowerBook and MacBook from before about 2008 are non-unibody. – bmike Nov 30 '12 at 15:32
  • Fine thx for clarification, I guess when I go to buy a new Macbook in a couple of years time, I'll look to see if they are unibodied, if they are not...I'll get back to you. All developers of battery calibrations apps...Beware – Simon Nov 30 '12 at 15:35
  • I just replaced the battery in my 2011 unibody 15" MacBook Pro. It was lasting about 2 hours and was losing time fast so it was time to do it. It cost about $120 and was done at our "local" Apple store while I waited (an hour). Given that this machine has plenty of RAM and a big SSD I figured it was worthwhile as I plan to keep it another year before moving up to a retina model. – Richard Dec 1 '12 at 3:49
  • The calibration procedure that Apple recommends (i.e. fully charge, discharge completely until sleep, let it rest for 5 hours and recharge) is very similar to your first tip; ("Discharging it until the Mac sleeps at least once every month or two.") – Joost Jul 26 '13 at 9:29

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