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TreeHugger: Retina Mac batteries not replaceable

updated 03:16 pm EDT, Wed July 18, 2012

Internal service tech memo says whole top case must be replaced

Environmental site TreeHugger has gotten ahold of an Apple memo revealing that the battery in the new Retina MacBook pros cannot be easily replaced. The finding makes the new MacBooks even less repairable than previously thought. The revelation also casts doubt on the ultimate recyclability of the new MacBooks, as replacing the battery requires replacing a considerable portion of the computer itself.

Apple's memo to its own technicians notes that the battery is embedded within the top case of the Retina MacBook Pro, along with the keyboard, fan ducts, and microphone. The memo notes that the battery must be replaced along with the top case assembly and that the battery alone is not a replaceable part.

A previous examination of the new MacBook models by repair outfit iFixit has already dubbed them the "least repairable laptop" they've ever taken apart. The design of the notebook all but assures that it will need to be sent in to Apple for repairs, but that seems to have had no impact on the device's popularity, as supplies quickly sold out after its debut.

by MacNN Staff



  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 10-03-99

  1. Eldernorm

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 09-26-07

    The memo notes that the battery must be replaced along with the top case assembly and that the battery alone is not a replaceable part. .

    So, big deal. If the battery dies, they swap out the battery and part of the case. It goes back to the repair center where its carefully heated and the battery removed. A new battery is installed, its cleaned and any scratches are removed. The battery is recycled, the case is recycled.

    The Trolling is that just because you or I cannot easily replace the battery, no one can. Such a big bunch of dreck.

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    The problem is that the machine may outlast Apple's willingness to service it. (Entirely plausible these days.) At some point, there will be someone -- possibly many someones -- wanting to keep using the machine because it does what they need it to do, but unable to keep going because although third party batteries are available (they almost always are after a while) the rest of the pieces are not.

    Note that if Apple's machines were disposable crap, this wouldn't be a problem! This is an issue precisely because Apple's hardware tends to keep going for a long time (provided you don't need the latest OS version).

  1. billmboy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-09-07

    With 5-7 year battery life, that is way beyond most users need. Those who keep there gear beyond 7 years can figure out a way to repair it. Never say something cannot be fixed. A year from now there will be somekind of after market battery for this and next few generations of Mac laptops in general.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 03-22-04

    I am surprised that Apple does not just broadly announce a policy of accepting defunct Apple hardware for free recycling in order to shut down the (IMO poorly founded) bad PR. That way Apple could claim that batteries are always properly dealt with because Apple tech would be providing proper disposal during final EOL as well as during battery replacement.

    Note that user-replaceable batteries frequently end up in landfills. A solid argument can be made that built-in batteries are environmentally more desirable because replacement is properly done at authorized service providers.

    Non-user-replaceable RAM or drives however is IMO a horrible policy because both RAM and drives become both cheaper and higher capacity as time goes on.


  1. ggirton

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-03-99

    Apple already has a policy of free recycling for its old gear. Go to the Apple store, and personnel will show you how to log onto their website and they mail you a free mailer. If your computer is worth anything *(it isn't), they will give you something. BFD.

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