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For years on Treehugger, we have preached the virtues of repairability. There is editorial director Melissa Breyer listing four reasons to repair instead of recycling or replacing; senior editor Katherine Martinko on how it’s time to stand up for our right to repair, and me going on about Apple’s Pentalobe Screws and Apple’s war against self-repair. We all type these missives on our Apple computers: Writers love them because they are reputed to be dependable and easy to use, but we are not unaware of the contradictions.
The outspoken heroes of the right to repair movement are Kyle Wiens and the gang at iFixit, who have been rating the repairability of electronics and have been particularly critical of Apple, which consistently gets low ratings. It was pretty much a company philosophy and it got to the point where they were inventing new screw designs to keep people out of their own computers.
But much has changed in the Apple world since the head of design Jony Ive departed, as can be seen in the new MacBook Pro computers: It actually has ports people can use without $60 dongles. Sam Goldheart of iFixit loves this, writing: “Just look at those ports. With so many places to plug things in and so many dongles scorned, Jony Ive must be rolling in his …. Ferrari. ”
But more importantly, he can get inside and look around. And he likes what he sees. Battery replacement is a pretty standard operation and is usually difficult, requiring “infinite patience, a bottle of isopropyl alcohol, and an optional bottle of human-friendly alcohol.” Instead, in the new MacBooks, he finds battery pull tabs that enable you to pull it out. Some were hard to find, but in the end, he notes: “What do you know—some smart person gave repair and access some thought.”
One of the big downsides of the new design is that everything is baked onto the chip. On most computers, the memory is separate and you can upgrade or add. With the new Apple chips, memory is “unified” which increases the speed significantly. Basically, it is an entire “system on a chip.”
“What does all this fancy-pants unification mean for repairability? Well, nothing…