Surface Book (1st Gen) Screen Yellowing/Battery Issues – Remedy?

I didn’t see anything about this posted anywhere else on the forum, so I thought I would ask. I have a 1st gen Surface Book (the i5/256 with dedicated GPU). In recent months, the battery in the screen half of the unit started to swell, creating the yellow areas around the edges of the screen. I understand this is common.

I called MS support a few months ago and was quoted a $599 repair charge. I assume that means they would send me a new unit since I don’t see them popping open the screen to replace the battery. What I don’t know is what do they replace it with. Will it be another 1st gen with the same specs? Anyone know the answer. The rep I spoke with didn’t know.

I declined to send it in at the time because the $599 seemed steep and I thought I might do better if I took it into my local Microsoft Store once the pandemic eased and the stores reopened. Now we know the pandemic is nowhere near over and the stores are never reopening.

So what is my best play here? I can’t use it with the battery swollen. Too dangerous. But I really liked it and don’t want to just dump it. Is the $599 worth doing? Has anyone with a similar problem received a better deal. If I pay the $599, what will they send me to replace my Surface Book? Any answers or suggestions?

Conversation 11 comments

  • Paul Thurrott

    Premium Member
    08 August, 2020 - 11:54 am

    <p>Ugh. Sorry to hear this.</p><p><br></p><p>You're right not to use it. </p><p><br></p><p>I assume Microsoft will send a refurb unit. Is that worth $600? I guess we'd need to research what it would cost to buy a used first-gen Surface Book. But the problem with this product is that many of them are simply defective This is kind of a gamble.</p>

    • sgbassett

      Premium Member
      08 August, 2020 - 5:01 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#559957"><em>In reply to paul-thurrott:</em></a><em> Thanks. I suppose spending $600 on a nearly 5-year old anything with a Skylake processor, even a "premium" device like a Surface Book, is not wise. This was a "day one" device that was delivered on the first day of availability, so I suffered through all the power management "hot bag" issues. Come to think of it, if the battery is swelling, it may be due to excess heat from those original few nightmare months. Once those problems were under control by the spring of 2016, it was a nice device. </em></blockquote><blockquote><em>The same $600 would get me most of the way toward a Surface Pro 7 or Surface laptop when on sale. In fact, the i3 Pro 7 is $600 right now at Best Buy with the type cover. This would be a secondary (maybe even tertiary) machine for me, so maybe I could live with 4 GB? Could go $200 more and get the i5 with 8 GB and type cover. That might be the better option. </em></blockquote><blockquote><em>Not worried about 128 GB SSD on the sale units. I never came close to filling the 256 GB on the Surface Book. I use OneDrive for most everything, keeping just currently needed files on the local SSD. As you've pointed out on Windows Weekly, 128 GB of storage can work fine if cloud storage is used effectively. Decisions, decisions ….</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • lwetzel

    Premium Member
    09 August, 2020 - 5:58 pm

    <p>Had the battery swell on my original Surface Pro. It was pushing the screen out the front. Stopped using it. they said they would get rid of it for me if I brought it into the Store. </p>

  • earlster

    Premium Member
    04 January, 2021 - 5:24 pm

    <p>The same just started happening on my Surface Pro 4. Dug around on the web, where this appears to be quite the common problem for SP 4s, and SB 1s. </p><p>Checked on the microsoft site, and found that this has it's own category when creating a support ticket, and it routes you straight to a chat, and call with support.</p><p>The support analyst gave me two options:</p><ul><li>$450 for an exchange to a equal refurb (SP4, core i5, 8GB RAM, and 256GB storage), or </li><li>Buy a new one</li></ul><p>I get it that batteries get old, and I'd be OK to pay $200 for a battery replacement, but $450 is not worth it, it's an insult IMHO.</p><p><br></p><p>When I asked to speak to a supervisor, she tried several times to connect me, mentioned something about the supervisor having problems, and finally I hung up after 20 mins on hold.</p><p><br></p><p>I'm pretty disappointed, and for sure won't buy any new Surface device, just to have the same problem again in a few years.</p><p><br></p><p>Oh, the analyst also mentioned a '3 year grace period' for battery expansion issues, but mine is 4 years old. So again, this is a known issue for them, and they are just trying to avoid it.</p><p><br></p><p>MS, it's time for a recall, or a proper way to deal with this.</p>

  • paradyne

    05 January, 2021 - 5:39 am

    <p>I'm part way through repairing one that was left over after a friend got a replacement in the same situation (he had to threaten them with a small claims court case (this is in the UK) but then they gave in). They do indeed provide what appears to be a complete brand new 1st gen unit with the keyboard too. They didn't want the other unit back, it's just scrap so I'm trying to fix it.</p><p><br></p><p>A battery and screen (I broke the original getting it off) came to about £120. I'm putting in a new and larger SDD while I'm at it.</p>

  • crp0908

    05 January, 2021 - 8:18 am

    <blockquote><em><a href="#605622">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>$450 for a 'new to you' refurb 4 year old unit replacement seems unreasonable to some because that money could instead be applied as a good down payment towards an all new, better device. </p><p><br></p><p>I suppose $450 to cover a device that is no longer covered under warranty may seem reasonable to some. Perhaps one should limit their expectations when they purchase a new Surface device – hope that they will get 3-4 good years of use before it becomes a brick. Then maybe this isn't a disappointing experience. However, I have higher expectations – I like to keep using my Windows and Linux devices longer than 4 years. The possibility of this particular experience is a reason why I would not consider a Surface device for myself, nor would I recommend Surface to friends and family.</p>

  • earlster

    Premium Member
    05 January, 2021 - 11:34 am

    <blockquote><em><a href="#605622">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>Three issues that I see here:</p><ul><li>Would you buy a corei5 tablet/convertible with a 6th gen processor for $450 right now? I would argue, that it's not worth that anymore.</li><li>This is a design flaw, batteries are a wear part, and making it this hard/expensive to replace them, is not what I would expect from a premium device.</li><li>I get it that a battery looses capacity over time, I would be fine using it at this point, mostly plugged in. But the battery swelling and becoming a fire hazard, is not acceptable.</li></ul><p>Finally, I just dropped it off at a uBreakiFix place, they will do the battery replacement for $200, so yes, MS charging $450 for their bad product quality, and design compromises, is an insult, and shows a lack of standing behind their products.</p><p>My work Dell laptop had a swelling battery, Dell handles this a lot better then MS.</p><p>I've seen plenty of Mac Pro's at work that had battery issues, again, Apple is handling this way better.</p>

  • crp0908

    06 January, 2021 - 11:17 am

    <blockquote><em><a href="#605752">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>I agree. I don't expect my phone to last longer than a few years, that's why I would buy a good but cheap smartphone that meets most of my needs. The thinness of today's laptops and tablets imply that they're not going to last as long as the old school thick laptops that were built like tanks like my 10 year old Dell Latitude e6410. But I expect that my newer Dell Latitude 5491 to still be serviceable and usable for longer period of time than a comparably priced Surface Pro or any other tablet or device that is burdened with unserviceable and soldered components.</p>

  • waethorn

    07 January, 2021 - 1:47 pm

    <p>The stores won't exist by that time (which is never if politicians have their way).</p><p><br></p><p>You're stuck with it unless you can find a shop that specializes in out-of-warranty repairs on Surface products. Ask Microsoft what they'll do for $599. If you're happy with the current performance, what do you care if they repair or replace it? Just make sure there's some kind of repair guarantee for x # of days so that you don't get another lemon back, and what your recourse is if it does go bad again within that repair warranty term. If they won't replace it with a newer model with their current policy and the repair costs $599, ask if you can send it in for a diagnostic and if they offer discounts for existing customers on new units if you'd rather go that route (although let's be honest – they're most likely going to charge you more than $599 for a new unit). Really though, Microsoft doesn't make these systems and they won't be the ones repairing it, so a lot of this is set up under third-party contract service providers and Microsoft probably doesn't even know what the repair shop is going to do with it other than what they describe in the support ticket system, which is why you have to pay up-front when getting repair services through the manufacturer's channels. Any deals that they offer would have to be coordinated with the repair shop. The repair shop might take a look at it and decide it's not worth repairing. If they have another one of the same model that was worth repairing, you might get a refurbished one, so you're taking your chances. Ask lots of questions. If you don't get your questions answered satisfactorily, don't give them your money.</p>

  • stevem

    08 January, 2021 - 3:37 am

    <p>Same battery swelling problem on my Surface Pro 4. At the bottom right corner the screen is now 20mm (just under an inch for you imperial folks) away from the chassis and I can easily see most of the insides. Amazing the touchscreen and everything still works. Microsoft wanted around £600 for a repair. I set the battery to 50% in the bios as it is pretty much always on main power. I'm still using it everyday for around 8 hours, it's my main machine, and it does heat up as the cooling is comprised I guess. Needless to say I won't be paying the repair and am holding out for a new Surface Pro 8 when it is released. </p>

    • earlster

      Premium Member
      08 January, 2021 - 12:30 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#606363">In reply to SteveM:</a></em></blockquote><p>As I mentioned in a previous post here, I found a 3rd party repair service that will replace the battery for USD200, which is a more reasonable price for this work. Batteries can be found on amazon and other places in the $50 range, if you are able to do the repair yourself (it's not an easy one, due to how the screen is glued to the chassis, but since yours is already detached it might be a lot easier).</p><p>In any case, your battery at this point is a fire and explosion hazard, be aware of that.</p>


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