Got MacBook Pro battery issues? Apple may give you a new laptop

Update: According to an internal Apple memo highlighted by Mac Rumors, the relevant replacement part (top-case assembly) is now back in stock and available for repairing machines with dud batteries. Therefore it seems Apple is no longer swapping out old MacBook Pros for newer models.

Original story follows…

There are reports circulating that some owners of certain old MacBook Pro notebooks with run-down batteries are getting their laptops replaced with newer models – and in some cases a current-generation MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

As Mac Rumors spotted, this is happening in the case of 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display notebooks from mid-2012 and early 2013 which require a battery replacement. The reason behind these replacement seems to be that Apple is short on the part needed to make that fix (essentially the top half of the case, including the keyboard and trackpad, as the battery is glued into this in typical Apple style).

So if you have one of these Apple notebooks which needs the battery servicing – it must hold less than 80% capacity on maximum charge (and it should have been fully charged less than 1,000 times) – you can take it into an Apple store and attempt to get it replaced.

Incidentally, you can check the laptop’s battery status by going to About This Mac > System Report > Power, which will bring up all relevant battery information including your ‘cycle count’ or number of full charges made.

As to exactly what will happen in any individual case, that’s difficult to say, and may well depend on the store and Apple employee in question. There's possibly some element of blind luck, too.

The shortage of the top-case assembly part is set to run until mid-September, so apparently customers are being given the option to wait a couple of months for inventory to replenish, and if you take this route Apple will cover the cost of replacing the battery.

But if you insist you don’t want to wait, that’s when you may get the option for either a trade-in deal on a new machine, or to exchange your old MacBook Pro for a replacement model.

Replacement lottery

If the latter does happen, the other factor that’s up in the air is exactly what replacement you’ll get. Some folks have been provided with a refurbished MacBook Pro from 2013/2014, others have got a higher-end refurbished model from 2015. As we mentioned at the start of this story, a few lucky people have even got a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Seemingly, the more top-spec and costly your original MacBook Pro was, the more likely you are to get a high-end replacement model. So those who customized their original laptop to the max with beefy RAM, storage and so forth are more likely to get ‘lucky’.

Note that you can also try this via one of Apple’s authorized service providers, but anecdotal reports seem to suggest it’s best going direct to Apple itself. Feedback on Reddit and across the internet in general further suggests that it’s a good idea not to mention that you have knowledge of Apple providing replacement machines – play innocent so it doesn’t look like you’re angling for a new model, in other words.

These replacements have reportedly been happening on a global basis, so not just over in the US, and you don’t need to have AppleCare+ to benefit either.

For those who have managed to get their old MacBook Pro switched for a new laptop, that’s a sweet deal to say the least, and in these cases Apple certainly has to be commended for its customer service.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).