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MacBook Air Q&A - Updated January 11, 2016

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Is the battery in the MacBook Air models really not replaceable? Is there a "hack" to replace it?

The battery in all MacBook Air models is "integrated," which means it is not designed to be replaced by end-users, and it certainly is not easily "swappable" like the battery in "pre-Unibody" MacBook and MacBook Pro models.

The MacBook Air battery is replaceable, though. Thankfully, no soldering is required and Apple did not secure the battery in place with adhesive, either.

Official Replacement Option

Officially, when the battery life of any MacBook Air drops enough to justify replacement -- and it is no longer under warranty -- one is required to provide Apple with the entire MacBook Air for service.

Additional information is available from the company website -- and the price varies in different countries -- but as of the date last updated, it costs US$129 in the US, C$149 in Canada (originally C$209), £99 in the UK (originally £159), and A$199 in Australia (originally A$229) to have Apple replace the battery (including the battery itself).

If you live close to an Apple Store, you can opt for same-day service with an appointment. If you do not, you may alternately have the battery replaced by mail, which takes 3-4 days.

Self-Replacement Option

Although it might be a bit of a stretch to refer to battery replacement as a "hack" per se, as it is rather straightforward, it is entirely possible to replace the battery yourself.

Replacing the battery yourself not only saves a bit of money, but it also can save time, and it can be much more secure as you are not required to turn your entire notebook over to a third-party, either. However, be very certain to purchase a quality battery. A low quality battery may not hold a charge for as long as a quality one, but it also may leak or even cause a fire.

AnandTech was the first to tear into the original MacBook Air and found that it is not difficult to replace the battery, although it does require the removal of a whopping nineteen screws.

MacBook Air Battery Exposed
Image Credit: AnandTech (Original MacBook Air -- Bottom Panel Removed)

The battery replacement procedure is quite similar for subsequent models. However, starting with the "Late 2010" series, Apple uses five-point "Pentalobular" screws (which some refer to as "Security Torx" screws) on the exterior to more seriously discourage end-users from "tinkering" with their computer. The battery assembly likewise is attached with T5 Torx screws. It's not really any more difficult to replace the battery in these models, it just requires a more obscure screwdriver.

Identification Help

Not all MacBook Air models use the same battery, so it is critical to identify your MacBook Air correctly in order to purchase a compatible battery.

The MacBook Air can be identified by the Model Identifier "closely enough" to an exact match for the purpose of replacing the battery. In turn, each model can be uniquely identified via model identifier and one or more secondary identifiers (like processor speed and/or processor type).

EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app -- also can uniquely identify these models by the Serial Number, which is listed on the bottom of the notebook in small type toward the hinge and within the operating system alongside the model identifier. More details about specific identifiers are provided in EveryMac.com's extensive Mac Identification section.

To locate the model identifier in software, select "About This Mac" under the Apple Menu on your computer and click the "More Info..." button. If the MacBook Air is running OS X 10.7 "Lion" or later, you will need to click the "System Report" button after clicking "More Info..." as well. EveryMac.com has carefully hand documented each model identifier for your convenience.

The model identifiers for each of these models follows:

MacBook Air

Subfamily

Model ID

"Core 2 Duo" 1.6 13"

Original

MacBookAir1,1

"Core 2 Duo" 1.8 13"

Original

MacBookAir1,1

"Core 2 Duo" 1.6 13"

Late 2008

MacBookAir2,1

"Core 2 Duo" 1.86 13"

Late 2008

MacBookAir2,1

"Core 2 Duo" 1.86 13"

Mid-2009

MacBookAir2,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.13 13"

Mid-2009

MacBookAir2,1

"Core 2 Duo" 1.4 11"

Late 2010

MacBookAir3,1

"Core 2 Duo" 1.6 11"

Late 2010

MacBookAir3,1

"Core 2 Duo" 1.86 13"

Late 2010

MacBookAir3,2

"Core 2 Duo" 2.13 13"

Late 2010

MacBookAir3,2

"Core i5" 1.6 11"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,1

"Core i7" 1.8 11"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,1

"Core i5" 1.7 13"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,2

"Core i7" 1.8 13"

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,2

"Core i5" 1.6 13" (Edu)

Mid-2011

MacBookAir4,2

"Core i5" 1.7 11"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,1

"Core i7" 2.0 11"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,1

"Core i5" 1.8 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,2

"Core i7" 2.0 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookAir5,2

"Core i5" 1.3 11"

Mid-2013

MacBookAir6,1

"Core i7" 1.7 11"

Mid-2013

MacBookAir6,1

"Core i5" 1.3 13"

Mid-2013

MacBookAir6,2

"Core i7" 1.7 13"

Mid-2013

MacBookAir6,2

"Core i5" 1.4 11"

Early 2014

MacBookAir6,1

"Core i7" 1.7 11"

Early 2014

MacBookAir6,1

"Core i5" 1.4 13"

Early 2014

MacBookAir6,2

"Core i7" 1.7 13"

Early 2014

MacBookAir6,2

"Core i5" 1.6 11"

Early 2015

MacBookAir7,1

"Core i7" 2.2 11"

Early 2015

MacBookAir7,1

"Core i5" 1.6 13"

Early 2015

MacBookAir7,2

"Core i7" 2.2 13"

Early 2015

MacBookAir7,2


Battery Replacement Instructions

For the original, "Late 2008," and "Mid-2009" MacBook Air models you essentially have to remove the bottom case (ten screws), unscrew the battery (nine screws), and finally, just unplug the battery and remove it.

The procedure is slightly different for the original model and the "Late 2008/Mid-2009" models and a bit different for the "Late 2010" through "Early 2014" models, too.

Site sponsor Other World Computing both provides quality, compatible batteries (complete with the correct screwdriver) and has precisely documented the replacement steps for each, as well:

Original MacBook Air Battery Replacement Video (MacBookAir1,1)


Late 2008/Mid-2009 MacBook Air Battery Replacement Video (MacBookAir2,1)


Late 2010-Early 2014 13" MacBook Air Battery Replacement Video
(MacBookAir3,2, MacBookAir4,2, MacBookAir5,2, MacBookAir6,2)

OWC doesn't yet provide a video for 11-Inch MacBook Air notebooks, but the company does provide quality batteries for the 11-Inch "Late 2010" MacBook Air and the 11-Inch "Mid-2011," "Mid-2012," "Mid-2013" and "Early 2014" MacBook Air models alike. Installation is quite similar to their larger 13-Inch brethren, as well.

As of the date last updated, quality batteries are few and far between for the "Early 2015" MacBook Air models, but these models should not need to have their batteries replaced yet, either.

After watching these videos, it should be clear that replacing the battery is simple. When you remove the screws, though, pay careful attention to where each screw goes. In particular, some screws are longer than others.

However, if you do not feel comfortable doing the work yourself, hiring a professional is a good idea.

Battery Replacement Summary

Ultimately, those with modest technical skills can easily replace the battery in the MacBook Air models themselves should they choose to do so. Replacing the battery requires nothing more than a compatible, quality battery and the correct screwdriver or screwdrivers.

It cannot be stressed enough that it is very important to purchase a quality battery. Low quality batteries may not hold a charge for as long as a quality one, but even may leak or cause a fire.

Battery Purchase Options

In the US (and many other countries), site sponsor OWC offers quality batteries for nearly all MacBook Air models.

In Australia, site sponsor Macfixit is a local distributor of OWC batteries and provides a 30 day money back guarantee as well as affordable flat-rate shipping across the country.

In Southeast Asia, site sponsor SimplyMac.sg sells the entire line of OWC batteries for the MacBook Air series with free delivery -- and optional upgrade service -- in Singapore and flat rate shipping to Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea.


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