Apple Recalls 15-Inch MacBook Pro Laptops Over Battery Concerns (Update: FAA Ban)

(Image credit: Apple)

Updated, 8/14/19, 6:05am PT: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told airlines not to allow MacBook Pro models affected by this recall onto their flights, Bloomberg reported, in accordance with a 2016 order prohibiting devices with recalled batteries from taking to the skies. That ban doesn't allow the affected MacBook Pro models to be included with carry-on luggage or checked as cargo. It's not clear how well the airlines would enforce this ban, though, considering the identification of recalled batteries is a multi-step process.

Original article, 6/20/19, 1:24pm PT:

Apple today voluntarily recalled "a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units which contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk." The company is now offering free battery replacements for MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, mid-2015) laptops. 

Batteries are wonderful components that enable many of the devices we use every day. But until companies announce recalls like this, it can be easy to forget that batteries can also be dangerous, given their occasional acts of apparently spontaneous combustion. Samsung's exploding Galaxy Note 7 from 2016 helped remind us of that fact with smartphone batteries, but laptop batteries can also have real safety problems.

See: Lenovo's recall of certain Thinkpad X1 Carbon models in February 2018, HP's expanded recall of various laptop models in March and now Apple's recall of 15-inch MacBook Pro units "sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017." All three recalls were prompted by concerns about the batteries overheating. The best-case scenario is for the laptop itself to be ruined; the worst-case would be for its owner to be injured in the process.

How to Get a Replacement Battery

Apple said in a support article that only MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, mid-2015) models are subject to this recall. Owners can determine what model of MacBook Pro they have by checking the "About This Mac" page found via the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen. If you confirm you're using the affected model, you can submit you serial number via the support article to see if your particular unit needs a new battery. 

There are three ways to participate in the battery replacement program:

  • Find an Apple Authorized Service Provider.
  • Make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store.
  • Contact Apple Support to arrange mail-in service via the Apple Repair Center.

Apple said that units "will be examined prior to any service to verify that it is eligible for this program" and that the service can take 1-2 weeks. While a free battery replacement is a decent gesture (paying for a replacement part that's less likely to blow up isn't fun), we wonder how many people will continue using the defective units simply because they can't go that long without their laptop. Hopefully the answer turns out to be 'not that many.'

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • NightHawkRMX
    Apple? A recall?

    People must have been holding the laptop incorrectly!
  • thegriff
    Well, when Dell had an issue my son just needed to contact them and they sent a new one. He has one of their slim ones so, if Apple would make their computers so
    a regular person can replace the battery their users wouldn't have to lose access to their computers for a week or 2 or be inconvenienced to have to drive to an apple store.
  • closs.sebastien
    but you need to "think different"... so apple makes everything different.. even if it is worse than others..