Latest MacBook Pro 13 Gets Low Ease-of-Repair Score From iFixit

iFixit found it difficult to remove its battery and other parts when it tore apart a new standard MacBook Pro 13 with function keys, and so gave it a score of 2 on a scale of 10 for ease-of-repair.

iFixit, MacBook Pro, Apple, laptop, computer, Touch Bar

When Apple unveiled its new three MacBook Pro models on Oct. 27, the company touted the new Touch Bar on the two premium versions and their thinner, lighter and faster form factors. But when computer tear-down vendor iFixit deconstructed one of the new MacBook Pro 13 models that contained a standard function key array, it reported that the machine only received a score of 2 on a scale of 10 for ease-of-repair.

The problem, according to iFixit, is that the new thinner, lighter and denser MacBook Pro 13 model has been designed and assembled in ways that don't allow easy disassembly. The two new 13-inch and 15-inch Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro models won't ship for another few weeks, so iFixit has not yet taken them apart for analysis.

The 13-inch model with the standard function keys, which iFixit has dubbed the "Escape Edition" because it still has a physical ESC key, has a "battery [that] is stubbornly adhered and really tough to remove," according to the report, and it only has three cells instead of the six used in previous MacBook Pro machines.

Apple also claimed an "advanced thermal architecture" in the new MacBook Pro models, but instead of big changes, iFixit said it "couldn't find anything especially advanced. Okay, variably spaced fan blades, but we mostly noticed the heat sink is screwed on from the other side."

Removing the bottom case also took extra effort using a suction cup to help lift the lower edge enough to get an opening pick in to pop hidden clips on each side, according to iFixit. "After that, you slide the entire lower case down and you're home free. All of the extra clips and hooks help the lower case serve as case-stiffener, in lieu of the normal amount of screws."

Also noted is the machine's still-present headphone jack, which has been removed from the latest iPhones. It "probably won't stick around much longer" in the MacBook Pro models because this version of the jack "is a modular unit (with two microphones) taped to the top of the fan," according to the report. "That should make it pretty easy to replace with a Lightning or USB-C connector in the next model."

The former AirPort card is missing in the new machine, now that the WiFi and Bluetooth chips have been moved onto the logic board instead of living on a separate card, as they have in the past, the report states.

With the new MacBook Pro scoring so low on the iFixit repairability scale, "keep those coffee beverages and colas away from your laptop, folks," the organization said.

A sampling of IT analysts told eWEEK that the innovations they had hoped to see in the latest MacBook Pro devices were not part of the company's splashy presentation. The latest MacBooks arrive in three versions—a 15-inch model (pictured) with a sixth-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core 2.6GHz processor, 16GB of 2,133MHz memory and up to 2TB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage; a 13-inch model with a choice of sixth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 dual-core processors and 8GB of 2,133MHz memory; and a second lower-priced 13-inch model that comes with a standard row of function keys instead of a new Touch Bar that's found in the other two laptops. The all-new Touch Bar replaces the top row of clickable function keys with a touch-screen keyboard strip that enables deep customization options with a variety of applications.

Missing, though, were other innovations such as wireless displays that connect using WiGig, which could allow users to walk into a room, set down their MacBooks and have them connect to a compatible monitor instantly without having to plug anything in, they said.

The 15-inch model can be configured with Radeon Pro 450 graphics with up to 4GB of video memory, while the 13-inch models are equipped with Intel Iris 550 graphics chips.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399, while the MacBook Pro 13-inch model starts at $1,799 with the Touch Bar, or at $1,499 for the standard model without the Touch Bar. The basic MacBook Pro 13 is available immediately, while the other two models will ship in two to three weeks, according to Apple.