Apple has introduced a new battery health management feature to improve the lifespan of your new or existing MacBook battery.
The system evaluates how your MacBook battery has been used and then optimises charging settings to make your battery live longer. It all happens behind the scenes, so you don’t need to do anything apart from applying the upcoming macOS Catalina 10.15.5 software update.
How a MacBook battery ages
Apple’s notebooks, like many others, are powered by Lithium-Ion batteries. The thing about batteries, in general, is that they are consumable, meaning that they degrade over time. After each charge cycle, they hold a little less, until their charging capacity is all but diminished.
Batteries don’t degrade at a constant rate either. Two batteries purchased on the same day may work very differently a year later. ‘Chemical age’ is a term that describes how much ‘life’ a battery has left based on how it has been used, not its physical age.
For example, you always leave your laptop plugged in, versus constantly draining the battery and only plugging it in to top it up. Temperature can also be a factor, such as occasionally baking your laptop in a hot car or leaving it in the garage overnight in the middle of winter.
If you’d like some tips on preserving your battery life, check here.
Apple’s MacBook battery health management will figure out how you use your laptop in terms of temperature records and charging activity. It will then set limits to prolong its health.
This can include reducing the battery’s maximum capacity, meaning that it won’t last quite as long on a single charge. We’ve had it enabled for a few days, and the difference isn’t at all noticeable. However, the extent of the limit depends on the battery’s use history, so ours may not be as throttled as others.
Enabling MacBook battery health management
Once you’ve installed macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the feature automatically appears in you System Preferences in the Energy Saver menu.
You click on the ‘Battery Health’ button at the bottom of the box to find a tick box to enable the feature.
For a detailed description of the feature, check Apple’s support page here.
It appears that the trade-off for keeping your battery healthy for the long term is a slightly lower charge capacity.
Don’t freak out, if you need to max-out charge-time, you can simply disable the feature. Still, if it means fewer batteries in a landfill somewhere, it is a fair tradeoff.
You can read our 2020 MacBook Air review here.