iFixit Details Retina MacBook Pro’s Repair Limitations, Estimates Battery Replacement At $500

iFixit Details Retina MacBook Pro’s Repair Limitations, Estimates Battery Replacement At $500

Fixing this baby will cost you an arm and a leg.

Following its Retina MacBook Pro teardown back in June, iFixit declared Apple’s latest portable “the least repairable laptop” it has ever taken apart. While some components aren’t too difficult to upgrade or replace, others — such as the battery and RAM — are near impossible without professional help. In its new repair guide, published today, iFixit details further repair limitations with the notebook, and estimates that a third-party battery replacement could cost around $500.

iFixit has published 15 repair guides for the Retina MacBook Pro today, which cover things like the AirPort board, the logic board, fans, the trackpad, speakers, and the flash storage. It has also published one maintenance guide for reapplying thermal paste.

Despite giving the notebook its lowest repairability score yet, iFixit explains that many components can be removed or replaces without too much trouble — provided you use the right tools:

Many components within the laptop can be removed without much fuss, provided folks use the correct tools. Pentalobe screws hold the lower case in place and Torx screws secure everything else. Spudgers and plastic opening tools are absolutely necessary, as many of the components are designed with such tight tolerances that using fingertips is simply not an option.

Fair warning: working on the laptop is no easy task.

The site also warns, however, that removing some components is simply “infeasible.” The FaceTime camera, for example, requires you to separate the notebook’s display from the aluminum enclosure. It’s almost impossible to do that without breaking the glass, and so the only way around this is to replace the entire display:

Some repairs are simply infeasible. For example, there is no way to replace the trackpad without removing the battery. And while it’s possible to remove the battery, chances are high that it will be punctured in the process. Puncturing Lithium-polymer batteries releases noxious fumes and can cause fires. Additionally, removing the LCD glass from the aluminum frame will almost certainly break the glass. So components residing under the LCD — such as the FaceTime camera — will have to be replaced with the entire assembly.

iFixit also notes that sourcing replacement components for the Retina MacBook Pro isn’t easy at this point. This, along with the notebook’s intricate design, means third-party repairs won’t be cheap. In fact, to replace the battery, iFixit estimates a bill of $500:

Apple’s design direction is disturbing. We estimate that third party battery replacements will cost over $500 if technicians follow the safer Apple-suggested procedure and replace the entire upper case assembly along with the battery.

If you’ve picked up a new Retina MacBook Pro, then, you’re going to want to treat it with a lot of care. You’ll most definitely want to pick up the extended AppleCare warranty as well, because the longer you can keep your machine covered by Apple, the better.

  • mr_bee

    Good Grief! I am so tired of hearing iFixit complain about this stuff.

    All electronic devices have been more or less disposable after a year or two of use since the early 80’s. Toasters, TV’s Microwaves etc. are all *purposely* designed to have about a two year life span and then stop working. The time to complain about this trend and try to reverse it, was back when it started.

  • Bryan Dobson

    I agree, things change and while it would be awesome if they were totally user serviceable that is just not going to happen. I see this as the direction for all of these ultrabooks in the future. I see a lot of people complaining about not being able to replace the battery and I wonder what percentage of these people have actually ever done this?

  • Rob Klaproth

    The problem is that these laptops last 5-10 years, but the battery only lasts 1 year, maybe 2 if you’re gentle on it. Every MacBook pro I’ve owned always needs a new battery when I sell it on Craigslist. I’m fortunate to be able to afford a new one every 2-3 years, but most people I know aren’t, and they’re going to need a viable option for replacing their battery. This is the first Apple Product that I’m actually going to get the AppleCare for before my 1 year warranty is up.

  • technochick

    This is the first Apple Product that I’m actually going to get the AppleCare for before my 1 year warranty is up.

    That won’t help you if you consume your battery. They aren’t covered even with Apple Care if it’s normal use wear down.

    As for the prices, IFixIt says’s $500. Apple says $199 plus sales tax. I’ll stick with Apple.

    Also, I believe these batteries are rated at 1000 full charge cycles before the battery is consumed to 80%. Most folks don’t use up a full cycle every day as they leave the laptop on a charger a lot (like 75-80% of the time). So that means a good 2-3 years on one battery. So what’s the worry really?

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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