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MacBook self-repair program highlights Apple’s flawed repair progress

MacBook self-repair program highlights Apple's flawed repair progress
Zoom / The 2021 MacBook Pro 16-inch.

Samuel Axon

On Tuesday, Apple expanded its reach M1-Based MacBooks Self-Service Repair Software. give customers Repair Manuals The ability to purchase spare parts and purchase or rent tools for them MacBook Air M1 And the MacBook Pro M1 A far cry from yesterday’s apple. After a few days of availability, the MacBook Self-Repair Program is showing welcome progress, but work is still needed before Apple can be considered a true ally for the right to repair.

The past few days have seen many things right to repair Activists criticize Apple’s MacBook self-repair program. Perhaps the most prominent of them is stern tone Articles from iFixit, which said the software “succeeded in making MacBooks look less repairable.” While iFixit found the MacBook Air repair guide to be “in-depth, mostly logical, and worth an extra repair point,” it was less impressed with the MacBook Pro repair guides.

iFixit focused heavily on Apple’s approach to replacing the MacBook Pro battery, citing the normal deterioration of the lithium batteries. Apple’s 13, 14, and 16-inch MacBook Pro self-repair guides say that to replace the battery, you need to remove more than just the battery. Manuals instruct users to completely remove the top case, bottom case, battery management unit, flex cable, cover angle sensor, trackpad and its flex cable, vent/antenna unit, logic board, display hinge covers, monitor, sound board for laptop, fans and MagSafe board 3 plus USB-C and Touch ID boards.

From Apple's 14-inch M1 MacBook Pro Repair Guide.

From Apple’s 14-inch M1 MacBook Pro Repair Guide.

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This requires reading most of the 160-page manual, which warns that “the battery is part of the top case” and that you shouldn’t try to separate the two. The manuals also state that the top case includes the BMU, keyboard, keyboard flex cable, microphone, and speakers, all of which are “non-removable.”

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Disassembling and reassembling a laptop to change its battery, a part that is known to need replacing after time, is not easy to use or…typical. iFixit, for example, has a file 2021 MacBook Pro 14-inch Battery Replacement Guide It breaks the process down into 26 steps and mostly removes the bottom case, trackpad, and battery board.

And take a quick look at the repair manuals for other computers, such as Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon [PDF] or HP Zbook Fury G8 Battery replacements are simpler and shorter. Although these designs are different from Apple’s MacBook Pro.

To replace the battery on M1 MacBook Pro via Apple Self Service Repair Shopyou’ll have to buy a full top case as well, which will pay you about $527 to $615, minus the $88 credit if you return your original part (you can see a deeper price breakdown in this Manual price list from the edge). This is a high price to pay for a new battery, especially if everything else is working.

Apple says it will eventually sell individual battery replacements for the M1 MacBook Pros but hasn’t said when. Until then, battery replacements made at Apple Self Repair Store Way were time consuming and expensive.

“…Apple presents DIY repairers with a tough hurdle challenge: Read 162 pages of documentation without fear and decide to do the repair anyway, pay an exorbitant amount of money for an overrated part, and decide if you want to drop another $50 on the tools they They recommend it, and fix it yourself within 14 days, including completing the system configuration to pair your part with your device. It makes us wonder, does Apple want better repair capability?” wrote iFixit content consultant Sam Goldhart.

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The iFixit blog notes that Apple isn’t the only company that bundles self-service battery replacement with other fixes. The Screen battery replacement kit to Samsung Galaxy S21 He is an example. But iFixit argues that insulting Apple is worse.

Apple requires the keyboard and upper case to be replaced he is It’s worse than Samsung’s OEM range of monitors because it makes repair significantly more difficult, requiring you to completely disassemble the device to replace the battery, Elizabeth Chamberlain, director of sustainability at iFixit, told Ars. “Also a pity,” it simplifies the battery replacement process.

The iFixit blog also lamented the mysterious disappearance of repair manuals for 21.5 inches And the 27-inch iMacs published by Apple in 2019. We’ve reached out to Apple to inquire about their reasons and will update this if we hear back. But there is hope that the brochures will come back at some point (maybe they have been modified) as Apple continues to expand its self-service repair program.

A less expensive concern is replacing the M1 MacBook Air’s keyboard function row. It costs the same amount of money, $39, to replace it as it does to replace the keycaps on your keyboard. As explained by The Verge, Apple, in a move that feels painfully wasteful in more ways than one, will sell users seven sets of function row keycaps for that price.

On Apple’s whim

Since Apple is responsible for self-service efforts, there is concern that the Apple Store will eventually make parts unavailable, limiting self-repairs in the future.

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“They’ll likely phase out product parts availability before the hardware’s lifespan (our desk is full of 2012 MacBook Pros, for example),” Chamberlain told Ars.

Right to reform legislation has seen a notable movement recently, including The first bill of right to repair electronics passes in New York. iFixit argued that more legislation is still necessary, even though Apple has become more amenable to self-repair. Because just as easily as Apple decided to better accommodate self-fixing, it could change its mind.

MacBook M1 Repair.

MacBook M1 Repair.

“When we’re at the manufacturers’ whims, we get the fix on their terms,” ​​Chamberlain said. “Apple can withdraw product parts support and repair manuals at any time – proven by deleting 2019 iMac manuals.”