The New MacBook Pro Has an Improvement You'll Hope to Never Use
Apple's latest MacBook Pro models have a raft of new features, including the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, mini-LED displays with ProMotion, an HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, fast charging with MagSafe 3, and more. As the first teardowns start to be shared online, iFixit has revealed a previously unknown improvement with the new machines.
In its 14-inch MacBook Pro teardown, iFixit explained that the machine now features pull tabs for the battery cells, which the repair website said allows for easier do-it-yourself battery replacements.
2018 and newer MacBook Air models are also equipped with battery pull tabs, but the MacBook Pro has had batteries that are notoriously difficult to replace since 2012. This is because they are glued into the "top case," a large part housing the keyboard and trackpad. When an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider needs to replace the battery in these previous MacBook Pro models, they must also replace the entire top case, although the customer only pays a battery service fee of $129 to $199 out of warranty.
Inside the new MacBook Pro, the four outer battery cells have easily-noticeable iPhone-like pull tabs, and once the trackpad is removed, there are cutouts in the chassis to access the pull tabs that hold the middle two battery cells in place, according to iFixit.
The four outer battery cells all sport subtle but noticeable pull tabs, a.k.a. stretch-release adhesive—those thin white strips we know and love from the iPhone and MacBook Air. If your technique is right, you just pull on these things to stretch out the adhesive, and, in theory, whatever’s attached to it falls right out.
Some kinds of adhesive are just 10x more fun than other kinds. Like stretch-release, the most goofy, friendly adhesive we know.
Even better, it appears this battery isn’t trapped under the logic board. That could enable straightforward battery swaps without removing all the brains first—a procedure we’ve been dreaming about for a while.
But wait, we don’t see any pull tabs on the two center cells, and they refuse to budge. Are we screwed—or, worse, glued? (It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve found some promising-looking pull tabs, only to be let down.)
This stumped us for a bit, until we had the desperate brilliant idea to remove the trackpad. We hoped for a better look underneath the battery, but got something better.
It turns out there are pull strips under the remaining battery cells, accessed through precise cutouts in the chassis, beneath the trackpad. What do you know—some smart person gave repair and access some thought.
And just like that, the battery is jettisoned. No alcohol. No pry tools. No incessant cursing.
It is unclear if the pull tabs will result in a change to Apple's repair procedures, but they will certainly benefit do-it-yourself repairs by making the battery cells more easily accessible. While most MacBook Pro users will hope to never need to replace the battery, this improvement may make the new machines more long-lasting and is a step in the right direction for Right to Repair advocates.
For more on what the new high-end MacBook Pro models have to offer, see our comprehensive roundup.