HP Spectre x360 battery replacement

I have an HP Spectre x360 laptop. It’s a model 13-4009na from 2015. As I have noted previously, occasionally the battery fails to charge, but fixing that problem is easy.

However, in early 2021, I had a new problem develop. This was a battery failure. This had a very different symptom. The trick I used to get it charging did not fix it.

In this case, the battery charged fine, reaching 100%, but the moment the charging cable was unplugged, the laptop immediately powered off. It didn’t do a graceful shutdown, it just failed immediately. The laptop would not power on without the charging cable plugged in.

Interestingly, the battery diagnostics did not indicate a failure. However, they did indicate that the battery was down to 58% of its design capacity and that the voltage on cell 3 was lower than the others. At the time, I couldn’t tell if the voltages indicated a problem, or were the expected variation.

Note the difference in the two capacity measurements. The battery was (almost) full charged at 94% of its current maximum capacity, but its current maximum capacity was now 58% of the design capacity when new. (This is a three-cell battery, so cell 4 is correctly reading 0.)

Because the laptop powered off the moment it was unplugged, I could read the battery diagnostics only when the laptop was plugged in. I couldn’t see, for example, if the voltage dropped when the laptop was unplugged. While charging, the total battery voltage (12.6 V) was higher than the design voltage (11.4 V) but a low reading on cell 3 might indicate that it would not be able to provide any significant current. This would cause the voltage to drop when the mains supply was removed.

I concluded that the battery had now failed. Given that the battery was now over five years old, this was not unreasonable.

This gave me a choice of replacing the laptop or replacing the battery. The laptop was working on mains power, so complete replacement was an option as files could be copied over (and it was fully backed up). I chose to replace the battery. The primary reason was that I wasn’t prepared to spend my time commissioning a new laptop. I am technically competent enough to dismantle the laptop to replace the battery. And, since I was working from home, I had the appropriate anti-static kit.

If the battery had failed a year later, then I might not have decided to replace the battery. This laptop is not compatible with Windows 11. By replacing the battery I would be committing to five more years of Windows 10. This would take me past the current end-of-life date for Windows 10 of 14 October 2025.

Before I did anything, I looked up how to do it. I found an excellent step-by-step video by TearItDown. I acquired a decent set of Torx screwdrivers and made sure I could disassemble the laptop, remove the battery, reinstall it and reassemble the laptop, and confirm it all still worked, before I committed to ordering a new battery. This also allowed me to read the part number off the old battery. The part number was 788237-2C1 but a label said to replace with HP spare 789116-005. There was also the marking “PK03XL”.

Getting hold of a new battery was more steps than it should have been. I wanted to order directly from HP. I went to the HP parts store. I seem to recall that, at the time, searching was unreliable and it took me a while to find the right search terms. For example, the part might not have shown up on a search for “789116-005” but might have shown up for “789116” (or vice versa). Searching now, a year later, the battery shows up on both searches (but not “788237”, “788237-2C1” or “PK03XL”).

Once the battery was installed, the problem was completely fixed. I let it charge and drain a few times But the battery diagnostics, now running from the new battery, and while I was letting it discharge after its first full charge, read:

The battery now shows it’s at (nearly) it’s full design capacity. Cell 3 and cell 2 now have the same voltage as cell 1 instead of being, roughly, 100 and 50 mV lower as on the old battery.

It’s now been a year since I replaced the battery and I’ve had no more problems.

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