I’m currently working on replacing a battery for an Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Mid-2012 Model A1278 laptop computer and have completed the initial research for purchasing a replacement battery.

Research is needed because each computer has specific battery requirements due to slight differences in computer model, size, and year.

So, even for someone who replaces batteries regularly, for each job it’s necessary to compare batteries for pricing, availability, reliability, and customer satisfaction with the vendor.

Choosing a Store, Vendor and Manufacturer

These are some of the potential concerns and considerations we may have when making a product purchase.

  • Store – The store is the top-level source or provider for products. This can be a local physical store or an online store like Amazon. Many big-box brick-and-mortar stores like Costco, Best Buy, Staples, and Walmart have extensive online inventories that are similar to Amazon. People have their favorite stores. This can be similar to deciding which credit card to use. People tend to choose stores that provide some added benefits and value. Best Buy for example offers cash back and other benefits for “Rewards” customers, including extended return periods. Amazon offers free shipping and easy returns to Prime members.
  • Vendor – Sometimes within a store there can be various vendors. You may notice that products are sold on Amazon but fulfilled by a third-party. This means that Amazon takes the order and the payment, but someone else will package the product and ship it. There are also vendors who let Amazon handle the shipping, but the vendor handles the product listing and some customer service needs. If a vendor has a bad reputation, it may be because they are selling products that aren’t authentic, or they could be selling refurbished products as new. Perhaps they have poor customer service reputation. It’s important to choose a good vendor.
  • Manufacturer – It’s desirable to find a manufacturer known for good product design and quality control. Buyers may have other concerns such as the manufacturer’s reputation for good labor and sourcing practices. We generally think of a manufacturer as a company like Apple. Some buyers will want to know more about the specific factories where the products are being made. Sometimes the company has their own factories and makes their own products, like Tesla. Yet, that’s not always the case. Apple, for example, designs the products and has oversight over the factories where they are made, but the actual manufacturing is being done by third parties.
  • Brand – Manufacturers sometimes have different brands or product lines. Dell for example has Inspiron computers which are more consumer focused and full featured. There are also Dell Optipex computers that are more expensive but also more reliable. Sometimes the brand and company are the same. Brand is also a general term used to refer to the overall impression of a company and its products.
  • Model – With high-end cameras, the same camera model may be sold for several years. So, we learn from buyers how the product performs. With other items, product models change from one year to the next, but there can be a model line with a good reputation. For example, HP OfficeJet Pro has been a series of printer models with a good reputation.

Decision Process Overview

For this particular purchase, it was desired to have quick delivery and low cost. So, I chose to shop with Amazon since I’m a Prime member. Also, Amazon typically has many products to choose from to meet a specific need. This makes it possible to compare vendors, manufacturers, and products.

As you’ll read below, I chose the Runpower brand of battery. Using the service Fakespot, I was able to determine that the reviews for the battery were legitimate. [View Report] Other products clearly had paid ‘fake’ reviews.

In this case, Runpower is the brand, manufacturer, and seller on Amazon. Because the battery is Prime qualified, there is free one-day shipping. A benefit of having the manufacturer be the vendor is that usually customer service can be more streamlined.

One doesn’t end up having a vendor say “We’d like to help you but this is really a manufacturer issue” and then the manufacturer saying “The vendor is really the one responsible for these customer service issues.”

By clicking on the Runpower vendor link, I was able to see other products sold by Runpower on Amazon. Those seem to have good reviews. This is another way to check on a smaller and less familiar vendor on Amazon.

Battery Replacements Not Selected

Here are some of the batteries I didn’t choose for this project:

  • NinjaBatt – This battery was a good option to consider. [View] NinjaBatt has a ‘B’ score on Fakespot which isn’t bad. [View] Out of 126 ratings this particular battery had 9% 1-star and 2% 2-star reviews, with many people describing quality control and reliability issues.
  • POWERWOO – This battery has an unusually high number of 5-star (79%) and 4-star (10%) reviews, with a combined 5-star and 4-star of 89%. There are only 26 reviews. The battery itself does not have the POWERWOO( name on it. So it’s probably manufactured by a third party and being resold. [View] On Fakespot, POWERWOO has been given the grade of F as a vendor. [View]
  • SNSYIY ($36) – This battery has 11% 1-star reviews and 4% 2-star reviews which suggests there could be issues with quality. [View] Also, the vendor/brand SNSYIY has just an average reputation (grade of C) on Fakespot. [View]

Battery Selection Process

There are generally two categories of replacement batteries: economy and quality.

  • ECONOMY. Economy priced batteries can cost $30 to $50 and usually have average or satisfactory ratings on Amazon. [View] However, some vendors and brands may use paid (fake) reviews, so a person can’t rely entirely on customer reviews. The most common problems with economy batteries are: batteries that don’t work when they are received, batteries that don’t fit properly, lower than expected longevity during use, or batteries with failing cells so they may drop from 30% to 0% unexpectedly. These are typically manufacturing quality control issues. So, the purchase is a bit of a gamble. If you get a battery that works well in the first few weeks, it will likely continue working well. However, if it fails during that time, it’s easy to return items using the Amazon prime convenient return options.
  • QUALITY. A high-quality battery with a 1-year warranty can be purchased for about $90 from Other World Computing – MacSales. [View] The product description states: “These highest-quality batteries are backed by free, award-winning US-based support and a one-year, 48-hour or less turnaround warranty.” These are probably made in China, but with higher quality design, components, and quality control. The batteries are likely to provide better longevity during use and last longer. The brand of this battery is NewerTech which has been around since the 1980s and is owned by Other World Computing. So, a good product backed by a reputable company.

If someone wants to keep costs down, they may choose the lower priced economy battery and hope it works out. For this project, I ordered a Runpower battery for about $46 plus some tax. [View] That brand and vendor seem to have fairly good ratings. This particular battery model has only 40 ratings, which is generally low for Amazon products but not of concern considering this is a very specialty item for a computer that is 8 years old. So, it’s a product that probably isn’t being sold in large quantities. This purchase is a bit of a gamble, but if it works, it should be a good solution. It’s scheduled to arrive in two days, which was an important factor for this purchase.

If this battery doesn’t work for some reason, the best next choice will be the higher quality product for about $50 more. The extra cost will perhaps be worthwhile in the time saved not having to further test other low-cost solutions.

Battery Installation

I’ll update this post in a few days with some additional notes regarding the battery installation for this particular model.