Shortages force Apple to swap old MacBook Pros for new models

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MacBook Pro
You old MacBook Pro could get you a free upgrade.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has been forced to swap old MacBook Pros in need of repair with new models due to severe component shortages. It means some lucky customers get a free upgrade to the latest machines when in need of service under warranty.

A common fault with any laptop after regular use is that its battery loses its ability to charge. The cells can only withstand so many cycles before they no longer perform as intended. Fortunately, Apple will replace them for free under warranty.

However, MacRumors reports that the company is currently facing “a severe constraint of top case assemblies with integrated batteries” for 15-inch MacBook Pros released in mid-2012 and early 2013 — and this is expected to last until September.

As a result, Apple reportedly instructed its Genius Bar employees and Authorized Service Providers to swap affected notebooks for a newer, “functionally equivalent” model.

This allowed some lucky customers to swap aging machines for brand new models. One Reddit user had his 2012 MacBook Pro replaced with a 2017 model with Touch Bar, and it cost just $199, the usual price for an out-of-warranty battery repair.

MacBook Pro battery replacement or upgrade

Dozens of others report similar experiences, though not everyone is getting a 2017 model; Some received refurbished 2015 units, while others got machines released in 2016. Only a small number report unsuccessful attempts.

If your MacBook Pro is still covered by the one-year manufacturer warranty, or an extended AppleCare plan, the a battery replacement (or upgrade where eligible) is completely free. If your warranty has expired, the fee is $199.

However, Apple has been waiving this fee for customers who are willing to wait for new batteries to arrive rather than taking an upgrade for $199.

To be eligible for a potential replacement, you must have a mid-2012 or early 2013 model of the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a faulty battery in need of service. The policy does not apply to any other model, or any other component failure.

“Since the process appears to differ on a case-by-case basis, each customer’s mileage may vary,” adds MacRumors. “Apple could stop acknowledging this internal policy at any time, and not all employees may be aware it exists.”

  • gulliverian

    I suspect it was a limited policy do deal with a temporary shortage in one market that they would never acknowledge for fear of people trying to game the system.