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Apple Says Battery Can Be Replaced Individually in New MacBook Air With Retina Display

Big news for repairability and environmental responsibility: the battery can be individually replaced in the new MacBook Air, according to Apple's internal Service Readiness Guide for the notebook, obtained by MacRumors.

Apple demonstrating removal of battery in the new MacBook Air

In all other MacBook and MacBook Pro models with a Retina display released since 2012, when a customer has required a battery replacement, Apple has replaced the entire top case enclosure, including the keyboard and trackpad. This is because the battery is glued into the top case in Mac notebooks with Retina displays.

The battery in the new MacBook Air is still glued into the top case, the aluminum enclosure that houses the keyboard and trackpad, but Apple will be providing Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers with tools to remove the battery and reinstall a new one with no top case replacement required.

Once the new battery is installed, technicians are required to place the notebook in Apple's existing iPhone display press tool to activate the new adhesive. The glue strips are exactly the same as those used for iPhone batteries.

"This is a huge step forward," said Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, a popular website dedicated to repairing Apple products. "Apple's glued-down battery design has been a challenge for consumers, recyclers, and for Apple's own technicians. Preserving the removability of the MacBook Air's battery is really important."

The trackpad in the new MacBook Air can also be individually replaced, according to the Service Readiness Guide, obtained from a reliable source.

We'll have to wait until iFixit tears down the new MacBook Air for a closer look inside the notebook, but Apple has presumably made design changes that allow for Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers to more easily replace the battery and trackpad, eliminating the need for a full-out top case replacement.

If there are indeed design changes, then Apple likely won't extend its new method to individually replace the battery to existing MacBook and MacBook Pro models with Retina displays, but it is certainly possible with next-generation models.

iFixit does have do-it-yourself guides for replacing the battery in MacBook and MacBook Pro models with Retina displays, which requires purchasing its battery replacement kit, but the process requires quite a bit of work and a careful hand. Do-it-yourself repairs also void Apple's warranty.

For comparison, the previous-generation MacBook Air has a screwed-down battery that can be removed and replaced by Apple and its service providers without a top case replacement, in line with other non-Retina notebooks.

In related news, Apple also states that replacing the Touch ID button on the new MacBook Air does not require a logic board replacement, but the notebook must pass Apple diagnostics in order for the repair to be completed.

Apple replacing the entire top case for a simple battery swap-out has always been a point of contention, so this change should be well received by the repair industry. It's also better for the environment, and will likely save Apple money, so it's a win-win-win. We've reached out to Apple for comment.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)


Top Rated Comments

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1 week ago
Astonishing that we need to applaud the undoing of a previous stupid decision. They needed to make it right and they did.
Rating: 10 Votes
1 week ago

Astonishing that we need to applaud the undoing of a previous stupid decision. They needed to make it right and they did.


Headphone jack next.
Rating: 9 Votes
1 week ago
:eek:

they...
listen?!
Rating: 9 Votes
1 week ago
If Apple truly cared about the "environment" they would make most parts of a computer easily replaceable or repairable. Thats what I would like to see more of in the future.
Rating: 6 Votes
1 week ago

If Apple truly cared about the "environment" they would make most parts of a computer easily replaceable or repairable. Thats what I would like to see more of in the future.


On the flip side, Apple continues to reduce the size of components and circuit boards, which is a huge step forward in terms of the environment. Unlike many companies out there chasing the cheapest way to build, and being wasteful in the process, Apple continues to chase the best way to build, cost aside.
Rating: 5 Votes
1 week ago
I paid $100 for a out of warranty 2013 MBP battery replacement and got a new top case, keyboard, and trackpad along with it.

No more shiny keys and trackpad feels like new. I think that was worth it. I bet they will now still charge $100 just for the battery.

I’m sure apple did this to save money, not to make our lives easier.
Rating: 5 Votes
1 week ago
Do people replace their Macs battery often? I never have.
Rating: 5 Votes
1 week ago
New Mac mini: socketed ram
New Macbook Air: Easier to replace battery

Could it be...a new day and age for Apple?
Rating: 4 Votes
1 week ago

That really isn't how computers work these days, and certainly won't in the future. Have you looked at the component density and/or component size on modern circuit boards?

Yes - I've noticed - been watching for a long time. They are hard problems to solve. Apple has VERY SMART people working for it. IF they wanted to they could make their products more repairable. Add repairability to their recycling program and you would have a even better mix of options.

We live in a fast paced, disposable society and Apple is a great company. I would love for them to do even better - they have the creative brain power to do it. Just seems wasteful to throw out a whole mother board because one component has gone bad. Or throw out whole computer because it can't be upgraded to last a few more years. Its great for a companies bottom line to sell a whole new computer, but very wasteful for society as a whole. I hope reuse and recycle go hand in hand.

I hear your point.
Rating: 3 Votes
1 week ago

Do people replace their Macs battery often? I never have.

Use mine enough that I use ~1 battery every 2 years.
Rating: 3 Votes

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