iFixit: Retina Macbook is Apple's least repairable laptop ever

By Rick
Jun 18, 2012
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  1. Endowed with a display as impressive as it is pricey, the new "Retina" Macbook sports a number of definite improvements which Apple fans have eagerly awaited. However, as iFix it co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens points out, there's one rather…

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  2. captainawesome

    captainawesome TechSpot Booster Posts: 410   +42

    Yep. AppleCare ftw !
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TechSpot Maniac Posts: 865   +279

    It'll be interesting to see how this one blows over. The MBA never struck me as anything more than a cool (but expensive) machine for light work or casual web browsing, so I don't think it's all that surprising that people didn't mind the hardware drawbacks. MBPs are another story altogether.

    Retina graphics were a big selling point for me because I don't like using multiple monitors, which is sometimes a necessity on my 13". Removing pretty much all upgradability & serviceability from the system is a deal-breaker, though. I don't mind paying a premium for something that does exactly what I want it to do, but paying a premium for something that necessitates an extended warranty? I'll wait for some competition offerings.
  4. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    For anyone interested in rebutals to the article referred in this story see:

    "It's Called Progress, Folks": http://garre.tt/its-called-progress

    "Why are Apple laptops becoming harder to take apart?": http://rc3.org/2012/06/16/why-are-apple-laptops-becoming-harder-to-take-apart/

    "Hackers gonna hate": http://nickchaves.com/post/hackers-gonna-hate

    So the CEO of a company that makes a living selling 3rd party components doesn't like that Apple uses non standard parts with the sole purpose of innovating then BOO HOO, please adapt to these changing times.
  5. That's OK. Mac users are plenty rich and will just buy another when it craps out.
  6. davislane1

    davislane1 TechSpot Maniac Posts: 865   +279

    I agree with this with regard to repair companies. If you make a living repairing someone else's products, it's part of your business to adapt. Whoever does it first is going to have an edge, so crying foul from this side of the fence is silly.

    The consumer side is where people are getting shafted. The changes to the system make sense from a manufacturing standpoint. By gluing (figuratively speaking, of course) everything together to cut down on space they don't have to reinvent the wheel simply to retain serviceability. Frankly, I think it was a shrewd move - they get the new & improved MBP on the shelves and make a killing selling the extra warranty and making repairs to boot.

    I think it's a stretch to call anything other than the screen innovation, though. Securing everything together with solder & adhesive to eliminate space-hogging screws and interfaces isn't innovating, it's just smart (assuming your customers don't care). Innovation would have been finding a way to reduce the profile of the machine while retaining serviceability.
  7. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    Serviceability has nothing to do with innovation in my opinion, it's a great feature but not a must have for a consumer's product, how many people actually service their cars by themselves? Hybrid cars can be less serviceable but that doesn't stop them from being innovative.

    Internally Apple redesigned almost every component you could think of to achieve that portability and still push that much pixels, even the SSD has a custom slot connector. They essentially designed a laptop from scratch even the fans where redesigned.

    Related: http://oleb.net/blog/2012/06/progress/
  8. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,105   +18

    It makes selling their warranties a no brainer when the repair cost will run close to the cost of the item.

    You can argue Apple trying to control their product vs Apple trying to squeeze more money out of their consumers, but ultimately it comes down to this. If the main factor, or at least significant reason for creating these very solid connections was getting more money in warranty sales or repairs sales, then its was a plain **** move on Apple's part.

    If the reason they did this was mainly technical, with the warranty and repair profits being just a bonus, then you're right, it was just a rational business decision.

    And since nobody here was at that meeting, we'll never know Apple's true motivations, and we'll never know how much this was weighed between profit and technical reasons. Any of us who have worked in any business at a high enough level, people start talking about everything, from employees to customers to whatever in very blunt monetary terms, where three people become a mere 100,000 in salary cuts, and raising prices on coffee by 50 cents means an extra 4 million in profits. But lets not kid ourselves that they, like every company, don't think about these things. They probably take surveys of customers, see how much they'd pay, think carefully if they'd incur displeasure of their customer base, etc. They consider these things.

    I am certain that they set their prices as high as they think their customers can pay, and they don't just make up these numbers. They have huge profit margins, they can go lower. They very carefully set the prices of their items where they are, and so when its comes to things like this, the profit aspect of it had to have been considered, and like it or not, they analyze the psychology of their customers very carefully, for many things, but chief among them probably is how much money they can spend on Apple products each year.
  9. "even the fans where redesigned".

    No, the fans are the same. They would all still pay top dollar for a turd from Apple as long as it had the logo. ;)
  10. Just because some people don't care about upgrading, others certainly do. I'd argue these people are the professionals that this laptop is meant to be aimed at. There's no way I'd buy something I can't even change the HDD on, in my current laptop if the HDD were to fail I simply pop into the shops buy a new one and slot it in, with a MBPR I simply try and book an appointment online and then drive for 2 hours to my nearest apple store, where I can pay hundreds for them to replace it for me. Sounds really pro to me.
  11. davislane1

    davislane1 TechSpot Maniac Posts: 865   +279

    Not sure the comparison to auto maintenance works with what's been done with the Retina MBP. For instance, if you have an issue with one of the electric motors in a hybrid you don't have to replace the entire electrical system just to fix the motor -- you just put in a new electric motor. Innovation that leads to more complexity I have no problems with (such as the CLS in the linked article), but having your tires fused to your wheels is a bit much for me.

    That said, I agree with you that serviceability is a feature, not a necessity. If they had to redesign everything else to make the product doable, more power to them. I'm actually hoping that future iterations of the Retina MBP will be refined to the point where they don't have to resort to making the hardware so consumer-unfriendly. Until then... Well, I can just dream about having that CLS wagon instead. :D
  12. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    The thing is Apple do have very serviceable alternatives (Old Gen Macbook Pros) it's just that least serviceable ones are selling like crazy (Air, iPhone and iPad). Personally I've only upgraded the RAM when I bought my PC and then only upgraded the HDD to a Seagate Momentus XT, but I would say 99% of Macbook owners never have the need to open the laptops themselves.
  13. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TechSpot Booster Posts: 808   +51

    I'm content with a DIY PC, thanks.
     
  14. Who exactly is this laptop aimed at? It doesn't have the performance for gaming or for a work station. It is too expensive for a Facebook machine (though I'm sure many will use it as such). The 'retina display' only has a 70% NTSC gaumut which is unsuitable for graphical work. It hardly has features you would expect in a 'professional' machine (no built-in ethernet port, no upgradability).

    Who the hell is buying this thing??
  15. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 6,443   +268

    I think the story is relevant because the new Retina MacBook Pro is proving popular already. That said, serviceability doesn't make or break a consumer product, it doesn't make it amazing and it doesn't make it crap either. It's just one factor among many others and in this case you'd be making a compromise if you want thin and light on a powerful spec'd 15" machine.
  16. Mario is bang on. Jokes aside, the truth is the majority of Apple's laptops will function fine until they're obsolete, a minority will break. Is it worth sacrificing size, weight, ergonomics, etc. in every single laptop just to make it slightly easier to repair the faulty ones? Like clearly it doesn't make any sense from Apple's point of view to help out third party companies by sacrificing the quality of their own product, that's a given, but it doesn't even make sense in terms of doing what's best for customers as a whole either. So really, who cares how hard it is to service? I don't, and neither will the vast majority.
  17. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,264   +215

    I don't really know the answer because I don't work in an industry, let alone one that uses Macs. AutoCAD though is/has released a new version with full retina support, and AutoCAD just came back to the Mac platform, so somebody is buying/using it. I don't think the lack of ethernet port on a portable is really a lack of professionalism. If you are a professional and are going to use an ethernet connection, then you probably have a desktop. Between me and my roommate, we have 5 laptops in the house, 4 of them use wireless. Most people never use an ethernet cord with a laptop unless it is the only choice.
  18. Davislane1 said: "I agree with this with regard to repair companies. If you make a living repairing someone else's products, it's part of your business to adapt. Whoever does it first is going to have an edge, so crying foul from this side of the fence is silly."

    That comment makes no sense, because it an advantage to all of those who make a living out of repairing this stuff, if it requires more efforts (time=money) to repair.
  19. shame how much apple stuff is overpriced you can buy a windows laptop for almost half the price thats better then any mac book
  20. Disrespect to consumer. well done Apple
  21. You know how many times I had to take my macbook pro for a repair over the last four years? ZERO times...
    Build a product that doesnt need a repair and I am more than happy.
  22. davislane1

    davislane1 TechSpot Maniac Posts: 865   +279

    Not necessarily. By making it more expensive to work on they've created incentive for people to purchase an extended service plan & take it to Apple to be fixed instead. It could also reduce the profitability of repairing the computers. For example, with the fused display if your webcam dies you have to install an entirely new display to fix it. Labor isn't going to be too bad (pure speculation on my part), but the price of the assembly is going to be huge. As such, you'd potentially have to charge less for the labor to remain competitive.
  23. fteumer

    fteumer Newcomer, in training Posts: 16

    To all those crying about not being able to fix it and "needing" to buy a warranty, I present to you this:

    AppleCare is a 3 year warranty for $350. A retina pro runs from ~2500-3200. If one part is broken, they need to replace the WHOLE thing (according to this article).

    So, $350 for a $3000 computer for THREE YEARS is a SMALL price to pay for YOU the consumer, and a huge one to Apple.

    BTW I have a PC (HP envy) and any PC laptop I have owned has DIED at 2 years (no warranty).

    Prices Per Year:
    Apple - ~1100 (with warranty)
    PC - ~1500 (no warranty)

    Food For Thought...
  24. fteumer

    fteumer Newcomer, in training Posts: 16

    fixed** sorry!
  25. @fteumer

    So because you can't take care of your laptop properly that justifies overpriced products and warranty plans? :p


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