Some 2019 MacBook Pros Shut Down Randomly

Although Apple products generally exhibit high quality, they’re not perfect. The latest defect from Cupertino has some 2019 MacBook Pros shutting down randomly.

By Chand Bellur

December 4, 2019 at 2:13 p.m. PDT

2019 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar Can Shut Down Unexpectedly

The MacBook Pro is a workhorse for productive professionals. I’m typing this article on a 13″ 2017 MacBook Pro. It’s far more powerful than an iPad and much more reliable and faster than a comparably equipped Windows 10 PC.

Not all is well in Cupertino. Occasionally they make mistakes. Sometimes, these “mistakes” are just quirks of physics. For example, lithium-ion batteries have certain properties that Apple and all device manufactures must accept.

The latest issue with the 2019 MacBook Pro is related to the physical characteristics of lithium-ion batteries, however, Apple bears some of the blame. Some of these machines are shutting down randomly, even when fully charged, which is likely a result of power management software.

Most modern-day lithium-ion powered devices use “smart battery” technology. Since devices need to save their state before they shut down, battery properties, such as last charge time and current, are monitored. If there’s a defect in monitoring this data, it can cause devices to shut down unexpectedly.

Apple has been silent about the root cause of this issue, but their solution is telling. It’s clear that there’s a defect in their battery monitoring technology. Fortunately, it’s easy to solve and they will likely issue a permanent fix in an upcoming macOS release.

Unexpected Shutdown Can Be Fixed with Battery Calibration

If your 2019 MacBook Pro is shutting down unexpectedly, it’s possible to fix the problem yourself. Simply let the battery drain down to below 90%, close all apps, plug in the charging cable and put your MacBook Pro to sleep. Let your device charge for over 8 hours and start it up. If the problem persists, bring it in for service.

There’s an obvious catch-22 here. If your MacBook Pro is shutting down randomly, how do you get the power to drain below 90%?

The shutdowns likely occur when an app or process is using a significant amount of power. You may need to drain the battery at a slower rate, by simply leaving your machine idle with the screen on. You can adjust sleep and screen power settings in System Preferences.

Similar “Problem” with iPhone and Most Lithium-Ion Battery-Powered Devices

The technique of draining and recharging batteries is nothing new. It’s known as battery calibration. This problem affects all lithium-ion powered devices that use a smart battery. Although the case of the 2019 MacBook Pro may be a software defect, this same process can happen to any device as the battery ages. As the battery loses charge capacity, the software needs to be recalibrated to account for faster drainage.

Apple gets more criticism for the issue because they sell hundreds of millions of the same phone model. Other tech companies sell hundreds of thousands or maybe a million of one model, and have dozens of other models. They’re not under the microscope, like Apple.

If your iPhone or any lithium-ion battery powered device shuts down unexpectedly, simply drain the battery and recharge it fully. With the iPhone, you’ll want to do a soft reset at the end of the charge cycle.

For the full iPhone battery calibration process, please read “How to Calibrate iPhone Battery”.

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