iFixIt Tears Down Apple's Convoluted And Discouraging Self Repair Program

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iFixIt is on a mission to improve the serviceability of all the devices we depend on to make our lives easier. That does not mean the company cheers for every DIY repair program that comes along from manufacturers, though. iFixIt does not hesitate to levee criticism where it is due. To that end, it has released a scathing breakdown of the sins it believes Apple has committed through the new Self Service Repair program for MacBooks.

Beyond advocacy, iFixIt and its community are well known for creating detailed yet concise teardown guides for various electronics. These guides are easy to follow as the company rightfully puts a lot of effort into them. Now, the Apple Self Service Repair program provides full official service guides in addition to official OEM parts. This should be a win, right?

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iFixIt MacBook Pro 14 Battery Teardown

For the MacBook Air, iFixIt rates Apple’s repair guide efforts as quite good. “They’re in-depth, mostly logical, and well worth an additional repairability point” for iFixIt’s ranking system. Unfortunately, iFixit does not believe that the same can be said for the MacBook Pro. Apple’s manual for the MacBook Pro's battery replacement process spans a whopping 162 pages, but the trouble only starts there. For contrast, iFixIt’s own guide to replace the MacBook Pro battery clocks in at 26 steps. Not pages, just steps. Apple’s MacBook Air procedure is similarly brief with 25 steps shown in its manual.

iFixIt’s gripes that the MacBook Pro’s battery is not simply replaceable according to Apple’s official documentation. In fact, Apple does not sell the battery as a standalone part at all. It is only included as part of a “Top Case with Battery and Keyboard” kit. Users who wish to change out the battery have to effectively replace a majority of the notebook piece by piece. Additionally, those who purchase this kit for the MacBook Pro will pay $439 – after you get back $88 in credit from the battery core return. This represents around a third of the cost of the laptop itself.

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Screenshot of Apple MacBook Air Service Manual

The cost alone is not even what irks iFixit. It argues that it feels like Apple is going out of its way to make DIY repairs seem unnecessarily daunting. They believe that some level of specialized tooling like a Torx or even pentalobe screwdriver is understandable, but that demanding users rent an iPhone display press to replace their MacBook’s battery is unreasonable. That is, by the way, part of the shorter and simpler MacBook Air process, not the Pro.

iFixIt does not merely criticize Apple. Its post includes a disclosure note that the "Samsung OEM display, including the battery" it sells has similar complexity concerns including similar relative cost. While iFixIt may be unable to bend Samsung’s arm either, it at least makes an alternate guide and has a third-party battery available for sale. Some may cast iFixIt as trying to push its own aftermarket parts. However, it could be argued that other avenues are limited if Samsung, Apple, or other manufacturers do not make first-party options available.

Top Image Credit: John Finkelstein on Pexels