Modding MacBook Air could cause fire

November 9, 2010 // 1:41 p.m.

Tags: #apple #battery #fire #laptop-fire #lithium-fire #macbook-air #macbook-air-battery #modding-macbook-air

Tinkerers hoping to make something more exiting out of Apple's new MacBook Air ultra-portables are being warned to watch the battery: its fragile design can lead to fire if it isn't handled with care.

The claim comes courtesy of French site HardMac, which dismantled one of Apple's latest ultra-slim creations and discovered that the non-removable battery is not protected in the usual way.

Traditional lithium-ion and lithium-polymer laptop batteries include robust protection to ensure that the casing doesn't get cracked, damaged, or cut - any of which can lead to leaks or localised overheating. The MacBook Air, however, eschews these protections, relying instead on the casing of the laptop to provide a damage-proof covering for the volatile internals.

While that's fine for most users, who won't be able to get at the non-user-replaceable battery anyway, anyone hoping to mod the device is warned to take extra care around the unusually exposed battery.

HardMac warns modders that 'one should be very careful to not apply any pressure to the modules, even less to knock them in any way with a screwdrivers or to make to scratch them that could damage the envelope seals' or they could run the risk of causing the battery to ignite.

It's further claimed that Apple knows of the risk, issuing its repair centres with plexiglass plates that fit over the battery while work is being carried out. This is specifically to avoid any risk of damage.

With Toshiba having released its ultra-slim SSDs to the general market, it's not hard to imagine a future where a MacBook Air owner fancies upgrading the storage inside their laptop - but it certainly looks like they'll have to take care when they do.

Are you shocked that Apple would put such a fragile battery into the MacBook Air in the first place, or is its inaccessibility to most people protection enough? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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