Apple recalls 1.8M laptop batteries

Apple Computer has announced a voluntary recall of lithium-ion battery packs used in certain Apple notebook computers. The recalled packs contain battery cells originally manufactured by Sony.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall today.

According to the announcement, the recall affects about 1.1 million battery packs in the United States and another 700,000 battery packs sold abroad. The faulty packs were assembled in Japan, Taiwan and China.

Apple has received nine reports of batteries overheating, including two reports of minor burns from handling overheated computers and other reports of minor property damage, CPSC said. No serious injuries have been reported.

The recalled lithium-ion batteries were used with the 12-inch iBook G4, 12-inch PowerBook G4 and 15-inch PowerBook G4, the commission said.

Consumers should remove the battery from the computer to view the model and serial numbers on the bottom of the unit, it said.

Sony said microscopic metal particles in the recalled battery cells may come into contact on rare occasions with other parts of the battery cell, leading to a short circuit in the cell.

Typically, a battery pack will power off when a cell short-circuits, Sony said in a statement. However, under some conditions, an internal short circuit may lead to cell overheating and even flames. The potential for this to occur can be affected by variations in different notebook computers’ system configurations.

Sony said it anticipates no further recalls of battery packs using these particular cells.

The company has introduced a number of additional safeguards into its battery manufacturing process to address this condition and provide a greater level of safety and security. “We believe the issue has been addressed to the satisfaction of our customers,” according to the statement.

Affected Apple computers and batteries

Computer model name
Battery model number
Battery serial numbers
12-inch iBook G4 A1061

ZZ338 through ZZ427
3K429 through 3K611
6C510 through 6C626

12-inch PowerBook G4 A1079 ZZ411 through ZZ427
3K428 through 3K611
3K425 through 3K601
15-inch PowerBook G4 A1078 and A1148 6N530 through 6N551
6N601

Last week, Dell recalled 4.1 million laptop computers containing Sony batteries because of the potential for overheating. Sony expects the recalls will cost the company between $172 million and $250 million, according to the announcement.

Apple owners should call (800) 275-2273 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Central Time from Monday through Sunday or log on to Apple's Web site to check the battery's serial number and request a replacement battery.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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