After years of letting its popular MacBook Air languish without any meaningful updates, Apple finally updated the ultra-portable notebook late last month. While the overall wedge-shaped chassis is familiar, the new MacBook Air features a completely redesigned inner layout.
Given that the new 2018 MacBook Air is now shipping to customers, it should come as no surprise that the teardown experts at iFixit have put the laptop on the operating table. What they found is that the MacBook Air is using Apple's third-generation butterfly key mechanism for the keyboard. While the keys have far less travel than what traditional MacBook Air users are familiar with, it does at least include the silicone membrane that should prevent debris from fouling up the keyboard.
In a move that is extremely repair-friendly, the speakers are now held in place with pull-tab adhesives. This allows the components to be easily removed without having to hammer through mounds of glue. The new approach to securing components also bleeds over to the internal batteries, which are secured by both screws and the aforementioned pull-tab adhesive.
This allows the entire battery pack to be replaced separately without Apple having to order an entire new case top-half (as it does with current MacBook Pros). The move should cut down on repair times for customers, and should help reduce unnecessary hardware replacement costs for Apple.
While these changes are definitely much appreciated, there are still headaches that await those looking to tinker inside the MacBook Air. The keyboard is still integrated into the top case, and requires complete disassembly of attached components to access. However, the silicon membrane should help cut down on the need for future keyboard replacements. In addition, in typical Apple fashion, RAM and storage is not user-replaceable.
In the end, iFixit gave the 2018 MacBook Air a rather dismal repairability score of 3 out of 10.