Tag Archive for ‘Battery’

Apple Changes Default MacBook Charging Behavior to Improve Battery Health ➝

Jason Snell:

The way MacBook batteries charge is about to change. Apple has released a new developer preview of macOS Catalina 10.15.5, and as these releases often do, it contains a new feature: Battery Health Management.

The new feature, which will only be available on Mac notebooks with Thunderbolt 3 ports, enables a new default approach to charging and discharging MacBook batteries. According to Apple, the feature is meant to reduce the rate of chemical aging of the MacBook’s battery, thereby extending its long-term lifespan—but without compromising on day-to-day battery life.

This is the type of feature that I love seeing from Apple — something that seems infinitely obvious, but only after you’ve heard about it.

➝ Source: sixcolors.com

Low Power Mode on the Mac ➝

Marco Arment makes the case for Apple to add Low Power Mode to macOS which would disable Turbo Boost, limit CPU voltage, turn off the discrete GPU on relevant models, and make a number of other adjustments. He ran several tests to show what these changes could do to extend battery life and the results are compelling.

I’ve wanted Low Power Mode on the iPad from the day it launched on iPhone, but the iPad’s battery life is already quite good whereas the Mac would benefit greatly from the feature. I rarely use my MacBook Air, but if Apple was only going to bring it to one platform, I’d rather see it on the Mac.

Belkin Debuts First MFi-Certified Power Bank With Lightning Input ➝

Eric Slivka, writing for MacRumors:

Belkin today is launching the first power bank with Lightning input to be officially certified under Apple’s MFi licensing program, assuring that the product meets Apple’s standards for quality and compatibility. Belkin’s BOOST↑­CHARGE Power Bank Lightning 10K, priced at $59.99, offers 10,000 mAh of charging power and is recharged over a Lightning connector using either a USB-to-Lightning cable or a compatible Lightning dock sold separately.

I bought Aukey’s 3600 mAh power bank with Lightning input last year in my quest to go Lightning everything in my travel kit. But the Aukey isn’t MFi certified, the capacity is fairly small, and the unit tends to get hot while in use. This Belkin model looks like a great replacement and it even features LED indicator lights that give you a decent amount of granularity regarding the battery’s current charge.

I’d like to see Belkin head this direction with their Valet Charger as well, which has an Apple Watch charging pad on top. That would be an ideal travel charger for me because I wouldn’t have to clutter my bag with an Apple Watch charging cable. But the Valet Charger charges over Micro-USB and I’d likely want to keep a compatible cable in bag, which defeats the purpose. If Belkin offered a Valet Charger with Lightning input, it would be a no-brainer.

Update: Greg Morris noted on Twitter that Besiter has been selling MFi certified power banks with Lightning inputs for some time.

Zens Power Bank With Integrated Watch Charger

Last year, I wrote about removing everything from my travel kit that charged over micro-USB. My iPhone and iPad charge over Lightning, why can’t everything else? It was a neat idea that worked well. At least, for the most part. The two biggest hurdles were in finding a way to charge my Apple Watch and tracking down a power bank that featured a Lightning port.

Zens Charging iPhone and Apple Watch

If you read my piece from last year, you may remember that I discovered that Aukey offered an external battery that charged over Lightning. It was a neat product — it didn’t have much capacity, but it was more of a safety net than anything else. I didn’t need a giant battery to charge all of my devices at once, I just wanted a compact unit that I could use to top-off my iPhone in a pinch.

The Aukey has a couple of other downsides, though. It often got warm while in use and it took, what seemed like, forever to charge. That’s not something I would normally complain about, but when you’re leaving on a trip the following morning, it’s nice to have everything actually packed the night before. With the Aukey, I would often have to leave it to charge overnight and risk forgetting it in the morning.

That brings me to the other hurdle associated with an all-Lightning lifestyle — charging my Apple Watch. Up until a few months ago, my solution was to just leave my Watch at home when I traveled.

This worked out okay for a while — I would have those moments where I’d look down at my wrist for the time and realize I’m not wearing it, but I didn’t miss it much. That is, until last Fall when I made an attempt to better utilize the Watch in my daily life — which manifested itself on this site when I wrote about my favorite watchOS apps.

My newfound love for the Apple Watch made it much harder to leave home without it. But I didn’t have a great solution for charging. I brought my Watch’s charging cable a few times, but I hated having to bring a dedicated cable that serves no other purpose than to charge my Watch.

Zens Power Bank in Hand

Then I stumbled across this nifty Zens Power Bank. It doesn’t charge over Lightning, but it features an Apple Watch charging pad and a USB port for powering my iPhone, iPad, or AirPods. I could leave my Watch charging cable at home and replace the Aukey battery with this Zens model.

I’ve had the Zens Power Bank for just under two weeks and I’ve been very impressed so far. The hardware feels study, without being too heavy, and the outer casing has a grippy coating to it. This material makes it easy to carry and helps prevent the unit from sliding off of surfaces or slipping out of pockets in a bag.

Before purchasing the Zens I was little worried about whether the magnets in the integrated Watch charging pad were going to be strong enough. I didn’t want my Watch to be easily knocked off of the Zens, especially since I was going to be using it for travel where I wouldn’t have the familiarity of my home’s bedside table. I just imagined setting my phone down for the night and accidentally bumping my Watch off of the charger without realizing it.

Luckily, the folks at Zens must have considered that possibility because the charging pad’s magnets feel stronger than those in Apple’s own charging cable. To test their strength, I tried holding the battery upside down with my Watch attached to it. The magnets were powerful enough to maintain its hold on the Watch, even with a bit of shaking. I have no worries, at all, that my Watch will get bumped off the charger.

The Zens Power Bank has a 4000mAh capacity — the product page says that it should offer up to ten full charges of an Apple Watch or two charges of an Apple Watch and iPhone simultaneously. This is a great capacity for me. I can take the Zens on a weekend trip and charge my Watch every night without having to bring the Watch’s charging cable. And on the way home, the Zens will still have enough power left to top-off my iPhone in a pinch.

Zens Power Bank’s Power Button, USB, and Micro-USB Ports

The power button, USB, and micro-USB port are located on the small edge of the Zens, right next to the Watch charging pad. And it features a small, dimly-lit LED that indicates how much charge is left in the battery — blue is 90-100%, purple is 20-90%, and red is 0-20%. I wish there was an additional color to indicate charges below 50%, but there are so many benefits to using the Zens that I can forgive this little annoyance.

As for the Zens’ use of Micro-USB and my interest in keeping my travel bag Lightning-only, I don’t plan on charging the unit’s battery when I’m away from home. The Zens will be, primarily, used to charge my Apple Watch while traveling and will only be used to power my iPhone if I’m stuck in some unforeseen circumstance away from a power outlet. And even then, if the Zens is only able to provide my iPhone with one full charge, that should be more than enough to get me by. I can still leave my Micro-USB cables at home without worry.

I own a handful of power banks and the Zens is by far my favorite. It doesn’t offer the largest capacity, it doesn’t have multiple USB ports, and it charges over Micro-USB. But it offers a unique feature that helps it stand out amongst a sea of competitors. It features a great balance of capacity and physical size giving you a fair number of charge cycles without having to sacrifice too much space in your bag. If you’re an Apple Watch enthusiast looking for an external battery pack for travel, the Zens is a fantastic option.

iFixit Lowers iPhone Battery Replacement Kit Pricing to $29 or Less ➝

Kyle Wiens, writing on iFixit’s weblog:

Effective immediately, we’re cutting the prices on all of our DIY battery install kits to $29 or less as well. The kits include all the tools you need to open up and swap your own battery. We also have options for the iPhone 4S, 5, 5s and 5c — which are excluded from Apple’s new program.

I might purchase one of these battery replacement kits for my wife’s iPhone SE. The device isn’t as snappy as it once was and I’m almost certain the battery is to blame.

Apple Store Employee Says iPhone Battery Replacement Plan Is a Mess ➝

Ben Gilbert, reporting for Business Insider:

One longtime Apple store employee told Business Insider the battery replacement takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. It may not sound like a lot of time, but for store employees, those replacements add up.

In the case of the employee we spoke with, even though they’re not in a flagship store in a major city, the staff is seeing anywhere from 15 to 30 battery replacements every day — that’s limited by the number of replacements that can be conceivably done in a workday by a single Apple Store technician. Their store “takes in more than we replace in a day,” they said.

This is exactly why I’ll wait until after Christmas to get my battery replaced. As annoying as it is to have these problems, I’d rather deal with it for another couple of weeks than have to wade through the crowds at the Apple Store. They’re already busy enough during the holidays, but this battery replacement program seems to be making things much worse.

iPhone 6s Battery Woes

Over the past few months, I’ve been having some major battery issues with my iPhone 6s. On a typical day, I’m lucky if I get over 4.5 hours of use on a single charge. And I’ll occasionally experience unexpected shutdowns — my iPhone will have anywhere from 30-50% left, but will just shutdown and offer the dead battery indicator. Once I plug the device in for a minute or two, it will reboot and display roughly the same battery life as when it shutdown, but will be usable for another hour or two without issues.

That’s pretty pitiful if you ask me — I feel like I’m constantly tethered to my wall charger. And on days when I know I’m going to be using my device extensively without access to power, I’ll usually keep it in Low Power Mode the entire day. That, of course, means that I miss out on Hey Siri, background app refresh, and automatic downloads until I return to a location with reliable charging capabilities.

As someone who preordered the iPhone 6s on the first night it was available, the device is just outside of AppleCare’s reach. I was beginning to consider replacing the battery myself. iFixit offers a battery replacement kit for $45 and I’m fairly confident I could perform the repair without too much trouble.

Then, a few weeks ago, Apple announced a battery replacement program for iPhone 6s owners. If your iPhone’s serial number fell within a certain range and you were experiencing issues, you could get the battery replaced for free. And anyone who paid to have their battery replaced by Apple could request a refund. Problem solved!

Except for one little issue, I live about two hours away from the nearest Apple Store. I don’t want to take the four hour trip (total) just to find out they don’t have the part in stock, leaving me with no option but to return at a later date. In order to get a bit more information about the process, I contacted Apple Support through their online chat system.

The person I spoke with was knowledgeable about the issue and could confirm that my iPhone was within the affected serial number range, but was only able to offer a couple pieces of advice to help the repair go smoothly. She told me to make an appointment so I wouldn’t have to wait after I arrived and call the store before I leave my house to see if they have the part in stock. That sounded like great advice, but with how busy life is this time of year, I decided to try a different approach before trying my luck at the Apple Store.

I contacted my local Best Buy early last week to confirm that they were an Apple authorized service provider — they are — and to see if they would be able to handle the battery repair. My nearest Best Buy is about 20 minutes from my house and it would be much more convenient if I could go through them. The person I spoke with on the phone didn’t seem particularly knowledgeable about the issue or even about Apple repairs in general. From what I can gather, the two Apple repair techs were the only ones on staff who had any idea what was going on.

Unfortunately, neither of the Apple techs were available when I called, but the employee I spoke with set up an appointment for me to come in later in the week. I came in fully prepared — I had unpaired my Apple Watch, backed up my device with iTunes, and was ready to sign out of iCloud and erase the contents of my device before handing it over for the repair. But none of that happened.

Instead, I was told that they don’t offer loaner phones at all and that they would have to hold my phone while they waited for the part to arrive. That’s three days at the earliest before the part arrives, another day for them to perform the repair and test it to ensure everything was working well. And again, that’s the fastest timeline he could offer me — I’d have to go four or more days without my iPhone or Apple Watch. That’s ridiculous. At that rate, I’d be better off mailing my iPhone to Apple for them to perform the repair.

So now I’m left trying to find enough time to travel to my nearest Apple Store. It’s not something I can really do on a random afternoon — four hours, round-trip, means I’ll have to go on my day off, at some point, scheduling around all of my family gatherings and other holiday-related commitments.

But even if I did make it up to the Apple Store, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to perform the repair that day. Based on Dr. Drang’s experience, I’ll have to go to the Apple Store and speak to a Genius in order for them to order and reserve the part for me. Then I’ll have to return once the part arrives. I might have to make two trips to the Apple Store — a total of eight hours of travel time — in order to get this repair completed.

I can understand that Apple is constrained on replacement batteries and I also know that I’m a unique case in that I live so far from an Apple Store, but there has to be a better way to handle this. The cost, in gas alone, for me to travel to my nearest Apple Store is about $20. If I take two trips, I’m getting dangerously close to the cost of that iFixit repair kit — which is currently in stock and ready to ship immediately.

I’m not sure how I’ll end up going about the replacement. I’ll probably just wait until after Christmas, when things slow down, and make the trip to the Apple Store. Hopefully by then they will have sorted out the supply issues and I’ll be able to get it replaced in one trip. But, if they continue having supply problems, I’m not ruling out the possibility of just replacing the battery myself. According to iFixit’s guide, it only takes about 30 minutes to perform — I could have it done the day the part arrives, I wouldn’t have to spend much time without my device, and I wouldn’t have to travel 4-8 hours. That last point alone certainly makes it an appealing option.

Why Your Phone Dies When It Claims to Have Battery Left ➝

Tons of interesting information from Mark Smirniotis regarding the battery percentage indicators on our devices. He uses simple analogies and explains the process in plain English — it’s a great read.