Apple’s self-service repair program is still fairly new, but it’s already expanding. Recently the company added support for MacBooks with M1 technology, allowing people to fix any problem without necessarily paying for an official repair. Unfortunately, repair experts I fix it (opens in a new tab) I have some harsh words on how to set up automatic repair on the MacBook Pro.
As iFixit points out, Apple has officially started letting Mac owners order parts and guides from the self-service repair store. (opens in a new tab) on August 23, which is good news, right? However, in a strange twist, iFixit claims that the new self-repair program makes the MacBook Pro look less repairable than before.
iFixit points out that repairing electronic components requires three things: the right parts, the tools, and the knowledge to perform the repair. That last part usually relies on guides, whether it’s multi-source offers like those from the iFixit community or official from the manufacturer.
Apple’s repair guides are generally pretty good, according to iFixit, citing service manuals for the new MacBook Air as an example. But the MacBook Pro guide is another story. While the MacBook Air guide is detailed and “mostly logical,” the MacBook Pro repair guide is long and intimidating.
For example, the 14-inch MacBook Pro battery replacement manual is 162 pages long, with several steps per page. Apple also has a very prominent warning, telling users to read everything before getting started and not to attempt any repairs they’re not comfortable with.
It all stems from the fact that Apple’s instructions have self-repairers go through almost the entire laptop to get to the battery. The steps involve opening the top edge, then the keyboard assembly, and handling a load of other parts before they reach the battery; Touch nameplate, display and display hinge covers, touch panel circuit, etc.
Naturally, once you’re done with the battery, you need to reverse the entire process to put your machine back together. That’s followed by system setup, which matches part numbers; if things don’t match, those parts could stop working.
To make matters worse, Apple doesn’t sell the MacBook Pro keyboard as a separate part. Instead, you should buy a “Top Case with Battery and Keyboard” for $500. For reference, a new 14-inch MacBook Pro would set you back at least $1,999.
Apple told iFixit that it will sell the battery alone at some point in the future, but there’s no clear indication of when that might be. In the meantime, you have to pay for some expensive parts and go through what iFixit calls “an excruciating series of hurdles.”
It’s almost enough to make you want to pay for an official Apple repair and not have to deal with the pressure of seamlessly disassembling and reassembling a laptop yourself.
This wouldn’t be the first time Apple’s fledgling self-repair program has been criticized. In April, when Apple released its first iPhone auto repair kits, we noticed that your phone repair process required expensive equipment and official parts. Not to mention the fact that parts purchased from Apple must first be linked to your phone’s IMEI number.
Considering Apple’s history with the “right to repair” issue and the moves that seem to try to curb third-party repair work, it’s all enough to make you wonder how serious self-repair work really is.