Apple this week expanded its self-service repair program to MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models equipped with the M1 series of chips, giving customers in the US access to select parts, manuals and tools to repair laptops.
While the expansion of the program is good news for the right to fix movement, the iFixit repair guide website is not entirely happy with the implementation. (It’s worth noting that Apple is now an iFixit competitor in this area of business.)
In a blog post, iFixit’s Sam Goldheart said that Apple’s program makes the MacBook Pro look “less repairable,” primarily because Apple’s current procedure for replacing a MacBook Pro battery is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming.
The problem is that Apple’s program still doesn’t allow a customer to order a stand-alone replacement battery for the MacBook Pro. Instead, a customer must order a part known as a “top case,” which includes a glued-in battery. The customer must then follow Apple’s comprehensive 162-page repair manual to replace the “top case” on their MacBook Pro, as the procedure involves removing all other case components.
Top cases are an expensive part since they include the keyboard, battery, speakers, and more. For example, Apple’s self-service parts store charges $527 for a top case for the 14-inch MacBook Pro, making it significantly more expensive to replace a MacBook Pro battery through the program compared to an Apple Store. or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. the job for $199.
“Apple is presenting DIY repairmen with an unbearable challenge of hurdles: read 162 pages of documentation without feeling intimidated and decide to do the repair anyway, pay an exorbitant amount of money for an excessive replacement part, decide if you want to waste other $50 on the tools they recommend and do the repair yourself within 14 days, including completing System Setup to pair your part with your device,” iFixit wrote. “Which makes us wonder, does Apple want even better repairability?”
Apple says a “battery replacement part” will be available for the MacBook Pro at some point “in the future,” which could make the replacement procedure easier, though details remain scant. But even if Apple releases a standalone replacement battery, it will probably still be cheaper and easier for Apple to handle the task.