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Teardown: MacBook Air internals, battery replacement

updated 09:40 pm EST, Thu January 24, 2008

MacBook Air internals

Alongside Apple's developer note on the MacBook Air, more details of Apple's unreleased MacBook Air continue to be revealed as the first units of the new notebook begin making their way into the hands of group of select reviewers. Following notes on issues with using 3G mobile broadband devices with the single available USB port, a new report indicates that the inside of the MacBook Air may be every bit as "sexy" as the outside and that the battery may be easily replaced by some users (however, it is unclear whether this will void the warranty). Gizmodo also confirms an earlier Electronista report: Apple's external SuperDrive is not compatible with other Macs or computers (only with the higher-power USB port found the MacBook Air) and that the Remote Disc does not work for remote DVD or music playback.

In his review, tech guru Walt Mossberg said "it's impossible to convey in words just how pleasing and surprising this computer feels in the hand," but notes a handful of drawbacks, including the lack of a removable battery. However, the folks over at Gizmodo have produced a video showing how easily and quickly the MacBook Air battery can be replaced, putting to rest some service turnaround or post-warranty service worries.

"But there's a price for this laptop's daring design: Apple had to give up some features road warriors consider standard in a subnotebook, and certain of these omissions are radical," Walt Mossberg wrote for The Journal. "Chief among them is the lack of a removable battery. So, while the MacBook Air will be a perfect choice for some travelers, I can't recommend it for all. It really depends on your style of working on the road and what features you value most."

Gizmodo's report indicates that Apple's design and simplicity carried over to the notebook's internals as well -- though it does require 10 screws to take it apart.

"The sexiest and simplest notebook has the sexiest and simplest construction (you'll be surprised at how easy the battery comes out)," the publication wrote. "Not only was this thin thing amazingly easy to disassemble, it was even gorgeous on the inside."

As first noted by AppleInsider, the battery is accessible and easily removed with type #00 Phillips screwdriver: users simply tug on the internal battery cable to unplug to easily unseat the battery. Reiterating that it is more complicated than swapping a battery -- or even installing RAM -- in Apple's current generation notebooks, the report says that the process is "easy enough to allow most users to do a battery replacement on their own."

"We must state that replacing the Macbook Air's battery is far more complicated than say a MacBook or MacBook Pro. But considering that the MacBook Air's battery is actually enclosed in the machine and Apple charges for the replacement service, it is nice to know if needed to, it can be replaced by the user," the reviewer wrote. The report indicates that Apple includes two image-based instructions for reassembling the case on the inside of the case.

by MacNN Staff



  1. UpQuark

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Pretty cool...

    I would love a 3rd party to come out with an external battery - similar to the one available to iPods. My flights to Japan from the 'states require lots of battery time. And, we cannot all afford business/first class where you can plug in. Coach class does afford the luxury of external power to the commoners.. That said, the mac book pro with the xtra battery works fine for me.. but damn it would be sweat to have an Air.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    what's the difference?

    Throughout this battery issue discussion, I've been struggling to figure out the difference between a replaceable battery and an after-market external battery. I'm sure there will be plenty of companies specialising in those (just like the ones for iPods). When you're carrying it in your bag, it takes exactly the same amount of space. It is safer to carry, since it has no exposed contacts; in fact, nowadays, it just may be the only kind that will legal to bring into an airplane cabin. So the only drawback would be having it attached to the side when you're using it, instead of being installed.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: what's the diff...

    You pointed it out. In a nice cramp seat on a plane, for example, do you're neighbors really want to have some wire sticking out, plus you have to find a place to put the external.

    Secondly, there's the computer issue. Do Macs (and computers in general) deal with power from the battery the same way as from an external source? Certainly you'd have to make sure you changed your energy settings so the macbook would use the "longest life" settings, not the "maximum performance" setting it would use when plugged in (which is what the macbook would sense). Also, does the computer use the power differently because it thinks it has full-on always on power vs. a battery?

    Oh, another issue might be the fact that there is no external battery available. But I'm sure that isn't of importance at the moment.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    under the laptop, of course. And a wire sticking out 3/4 of an inch really isn't going to cramp the passenger next to you (unless you're a totally clueless dip, of course...)

    Airline coach seats are the second worst seats used by the paying general public. The first worst are ballpark seats. There are exceptions, but they are rare.

    But yeah, the battery could double as an extra ergo' riser under the back bottom of the laptop.

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