By all accounts, Apple’s MacBook Pro with the Retina Display is an elegant, capable machine with a dazzling screen. That beauty, it turns out, is only skin deep.
If you crack open the case, you’ll discover like iFixit did, that the laptop’s innards are a disaster for people that like to repair and upgrade their own computers.
Planned obsolescence taken to the extreme?
Over the past few years, Apple’s hardware has won a reputation for being a little more challenging to teardown than the average PC. But according to Kyle Wiens, the new MacBook Pro takes the cake.
In an editorial for Wired, he details the DIY unfriendliness of the new ‘Retina’ MacBook Pro:
Unlike the previous model, the display is fused to the glass, which means replacing the LCD requires buying an expensive display assembly. The RAM is now soldered to the logic board — making future memory upgrades impossible. And the battery is glued to the case, requiring customers to mail their laptop to Apple every so often for a $200 replacement.
You read that right, soldered and glued. If you’re wondering what that looks like, take a look at iFixit’s teardown. Uncharacteristically for Apple, it’s not a pretty sight. Worse, you risk literally tearing vital components apart if you try to fix or upgrade the laptop.
Here are some of the warnings issued in iFixit’s guide.
The lithium-polymer battery is glued rather than screwed into the case, which increases the chances that it’ll break during disassembly. The battery also covers the trackpad cable, which tremendously increases the chance that the user will shear the cable in the battery removal process.
After reading that and dropping over $2,000 for the computer (price of entry: $2,199), few would consider taking even the briefest of peeks inside.
End of an era
It’s a time-honored tradition among tech-savvy Mac enthusiasts to shop for cheap RAM — in price, not necessarily quality — and other components online, install it themselves and beam with pride at having avoided the Genius Bar tax.
It was one of the perks of belonging to the tribe hardware hackers and modern day tinkerers. Those days seem to be drawing to a close as far as Apple is concerned.
Wiens rightfully calls the company out, but we’re equally to blame he argues. We’re voting with our dollars, filling up Apple’s coffers to nosebleed levels by snapping up their latest gadgets regardless of how un-repairable each iteration becomes.
According to Apple’s environmental report, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display — a mouthful, also uncharacteristic for the company — is a green machine (PDF). Unfortunately, it also seems to be on a faster path to an electronics recycler (hopefully) or the landfill (hopefully not) than its predecessors.