iFixit Says Apple's DIY Repair Program Makes MacBooks 'Seem Less Repairable'
Apple this week expanded its Self Service Repair program to MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models equipped with the M1 series of chips, providing customers in the U.S. with access to select parts, manuals, and tools to repair the notebooks.
While the program's expansion is good news for the right-to-repair movement, repair guide website iFixit is not entirely pleased with the implementation. (It's worth noting that Apple is now a competitor to iFixit in this area of business.)
In a blog post, iFixit's Sam Goldheart said Apple's program manages to make the MacBook Pro seem "less repairable," primarily because Apple's current procedure for replacing a MacBook Pro's battery is prohibitively expensive and time consuming.
The issue is that Apple's program does not yet allow a customer to order a standalone replacement battery for the MacBook Pro. Instead, a customer must order a part known as the "top case," which includes a glued-in battery. Then, the customer must follow Apple's exhaustive 162-page repair manual to replace the "top case" in their MacBook Pro, as the procedure involves removing every other component from the case.
Top cases are an expensive part given that 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's battery through the program in comparison to having an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider complete the job for $199.
"Apple is presenting DIY repairers with a excruciating gauntlet of hurdles: read 162 pages of documentation without getting intimidated and decide to do the repair anyway, pay an exorbitant amount of money for an overkill replacement part, decide whether you want to drop another 50 bucks on the tools they recommend, and do the repair yourself within 14 days, including completing the System Configuration to pair your part with your device," wrote iFixit. "Which makes us wonder, does Apple even want 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, although details remain slim. But even if Apple releases a standalone replacement battery, it will likely remain cheaper and easier to have Apple handle the task.