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One of the affected MacBook Pro models.

Photo by Apple

26 comments

Stop Using Your 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro

Apple has issued a voluntary recall for certain 15-inch MacBook Pro units sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017. These are older-model MacBook Pros that predate the Thunderbolt 3 models that Apple now ships.

Apple said that it “has determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk.” To see an example of what Apple is talking about, check out the video on Cory Andersen’s Reddit post and tweet, which shows his MacBook Pro spewing smoke, with clear burn marks on his wooden deck. We certainly hope Apple will be giving Cory a new 15-inch MacBook Pro for his trouble.

For this reason, Apple says that if you have an affected MacBook Pro, you should stop using it immediately and turn it over to Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for a free battery replacement. To see if your 15-inch MacBook Pro is included in the recall, enter your MacBook Pro’s serial number on Apple’s recall page.

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Comments About Stop Using Your 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro

Notable Replies

  1. Mine…purchased in Feb 2016…shows on the web site as “may be eligible”.

    I don’t know how they’ll verify whether it is unless it’s just by serial number.

    Still though…I’m not panicking. Mine’s not caught fire and we routinely shut off the power strips powering it and my wife’s 2013 MBA at night…and it hasn’t caught fire yet so I wonder what the real deal is.

    I hope they release some better info in the next few days so folks can tell whether theirs is under the recall or not…

  2. Just heard from a friend who had his battery in a 2015 MacBook Pro replaced a few weeks ago because it was swelling and expanding the case such that it no longer sat straight.

  3. I have two 2015 Macbook Pros, and both developed “battery bulge”, one so bad that it looked sort of pregnant and wouldn’t sit flat! Looked dangerous as well. Apple replaced both without charge (I did have AppleCare though). After replacement all is good!

  4. Definitely check the serial numbers with Apple’s recall site. I have a bunch in this range at work and we didn’t find a single one that needed to be recalled.

  5. On the other end of the spectrum, one of the consultants who subscribes to my TidBITS Content Network said that of the 2015 MacBook Pros that he manages for clients, 10% were in the recall range.

  6. jrg

    We have 8 in our office, so far 3 out of 4 checked are in the “need checking” camp.

    They were purchased May/June 2016. The other was bought a year later.

  7. I have been using this model since early 2018 and I am happy to find that mine is not in the recall.

  8. We checked ours and one might be on the recall. We are trying to find out without having to ship the unit to Apple. Hopefully the local Apple store might be able to do the inspection.

  9. I bought a refurbished 2015 MBP in January but when I checked the s/n I was told it MIGHT have already been replaced, OR it might not be one affected. When a unit is refurbished is the serial number changed? Mine has two Xes in the middle of the s/n.

  10. Download the free MachineProfile app, distributed by Micromat, from the App Store. The System Info tab will show the month that the original system was manufactured while the Battery Info date will show the date the battery was manufactured. If the battery date is later than the the manufactured date, it has been replaced.

    For example, I had the top case and logic board of my 2018 MacBook Pro (bought in the summer of 2018) replaced in February due to a partial backlight failure in the Touch Bar. Machine Profile shows that the system was manufactured during July 2018 while the battery was manufactured in late December 2018—so I know that battery replacement was part of the repair.

  11. A heads up.

    The Apple web site showed I was eligible. Made an appointment; they did a diagnostic and determined that when they replaced my screen (staingate or whatever that smudged coating repair thing was called) they ALSO replaced my battery. Woot! So no need to send mine in and the battery is great.

    The tech told me that one could call and they could maybe do something remotely to run the same tests. Not sure she’s right, but if you’re not close to an Apple Store then it might be worth checking out if your serial number is among the affected.

  12. Just to be absolutely precise here…

    This battery issue is precisely about just one machine: the 15" MacBook Pro (mid-2015) model. And only a percentage of those units; hence the online checker.

    To quote the Apple support page:

    Confirm your model is “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015).” If you have that model, enter your computer’s serial number below to see if it is eligible for this program.

    If it isn’t that model, it isn’t part of this recall. :wink:

  13. I have one. I was hoping I would get a free battery replacement, not my lucky day.

  14. Many times, the key is when the trackpad stops working. In such cases, a battery will swell against the trackpad and keep it from being able to be “clicked”. Which is a sure sign to check the battery. Of course, lots of folks just figure
    they’ll use a mouse as they don’t want to pay for a trackpad. I get to explain when I hear what’s up that this is now a fire hazard, not a trackpad stopped clicking issue.

  15. Designer Steve Gagne has posted photos on Facebook of what happened after his MacBook Pro caught fire. It looks like the battery burnt a hole through the laptop! If you have one of these models, please don’t mess around, contact Apple support ASAP.

  16. I just ran MachineProfile on my MacBook Pro (Retina,15-inch, Mid 2015) and it tells me the MBP was manufactured in October 2015 and the battery was manufactured on 2015-09-19. I ran the MBP serial number again and received the same result. So since the battery has NOT been replaced, then my MBP serial number is not in the affected serial number range. Whew!

  17. According to Apple, the only way to have a battery replaced is by sending it to Apple. Currently this process is taking as long as 14 days. I don’t understand why Apple can’t speed this process up significantly so loyal Apple users who rely on a single MacBook Pro that is essential to their work on a daily basis don’t lose their ability to do their work for as long as two weeks.

  18. I’m afraid there’s a similiar problem (albeit of smaller magnitude) even for those of us who can take it to an Apple store. They will quote you 5 business days as if your MacBook were some kind of fashion gizmo you could easily be without for many days. They’ll then say it usually turns around quicker (and it often does), but that’s the official party line.

    I have in the past sometimes been successful in saying, “no, you guys get the part first, tell me when to bring it in, and then a few hours later I pick it up”. That has worked and some of their reps have been very understanding about the situation and really tried to help. But it’s always them going the extra mile, officially Apple doesn’t do that. It’s as if Apple as a company fails to realize that a lot of people use these machines for actual work and depend on their availability and uptime (and hence Macs in the first place, duh :wink: ). Of course you could pay for a loaner and transfer all your data, but if that’s going to take a few hours I’d rather they just get the repair done in those few hours. And it usually is on that order since this is not component level fixes. It’s swapping a component that they usually identify quite quickly and then testing. So the bulk of the wait is getting the part and/or shipping of your Mac. And no, getting people on some kind of corporate contract is not a solution. If customers wanted that they’d have gone to IBM. FTR, I’ve dealt with some great reps who went above and beyond to make turnaround quick and something you can plan around. It’s that that was all their own personal effort rather than official Apple policy (that I’d also pay extra for) that I dislike.

  19. As @Simon suggests, the best workaround would be to buy a new MacBook Pro, use it for 2 weeks, and then return it. My understanding is that Apple Store employees sometimes even recommend this approach. I wonder what the support reps would suggest if you explained that you cannot be without your computer for 14 days?

  20. California Boat Fire: Coast Guard issues emergency bulletin - Los Angeles Times

    https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-11/coast-guard-issues-new-safety-rules-after-boat-fire

    A standout among the new rules is this:

    — Reduce potential fire hazards and consider limiting the unsupervised charging of lithium-ion batteries and extensive use of power strips and extension cords.

    That fits with my own hunch that the ongoing investigation will conclude that a defective lithium battery (like for a camera, cellphone, or laptop) was responsible for this tragedy.

    The one in my 2015 MacBook Pro was beyond scary (grotesquely deformed top case), but they needn’t be so obviously swollen to be a risk. Mine wasn’t even on the recall list!

    Also be aware that you cannot fly with any 2015 MacBook Pro without providing convincing evidence that yours is either exempt from the recall or has already had its battery replaced.

    I had mine replaced by an Apple authorized service center in Santa Barbara called Mobile Kangaroo. Excellent, one-day service.

  21. At least with a boat fire you can toss it in the water easily. :wink:

  22. Sorry, Adam, that was in poor taste due to the tragic fire off Catalina Island where 29 people died trapped BELOW deck.

  23. 34 died of smoke inhalation. If the ignition source turns out to have been a faulty battery, then if the night watchman had been awake he might have tossed the ignition source overboard. But it seems the entire crew was asleep, with all the passengers below decks on the other side of the fire.

    The source of ignition is still unknown, but because the fire may have started where all the phones and cameras, etc. were charging, Lithium-ion is currently a prime suspect.

  24. Apologies if that seemed insensitive—I didn’t read the linked article beforehand. At least on airplanes there’s a lot of safety training and alert crew, neither of which seems to have been the case here.

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