The MacBook Air Retina is slightly more repairable than Apple's other laptops
The crew over at iFixIt got their hands on the new MacBook Air Retina this week and set to work tearing the laptop apart. While the notebook is by no means easy to disassemble, it is a far cry more accessible than the latest MacBook Pros. Still, that’s not saying much.
The iFixIt team gave the 2018 MacBook Pro an abysmal 1 out of 10 in their “Repairability Score” metric this past summer, citing the fact that every component is soldered or glued into place and, thus, irreplaceable. Apple seems to have learned from their mistakes, at least a little bit, with the MacBook Air Retina.
There are a few highlights. The keyboard of the new MacBook Air Retina uses a plastic membrane underneath the keycaps, likely in response to the keyboard failure crisis that has plagued recent MacBook Pros. The membrane should keep dust particles out; their intrusion was likely the root cause of the MacBook Pro’s keyboard woes. Additionally, the two Thunderbolt 3 ports are on a separate logic board, which should make replacing a broken port relatively simple.
Perhaps most importantly for device longevity, there are now adhesive pull tabs underneath the battery. By pulling these tabs, users can remove the glue holding the battery in place and should be able to more easily replace an expired power pack.
The MacBook Air Retina still has some problems consistent with Apple laptops. For one, the butterfly keyboard is fully integrated into the keyboard deck, which makes replacing a broken keyboard difficult (and potentially expensive). Also, the Air continues Apple’s annoying trend of soldering both the RAM and storage into place, making upgrades impossible.
Overall, the MacBook Air Retina scored a 3 out of 10 for repairability. While not good by any metric, it’s a far cry better than Apple’s other offerings.