Apple Finally Allows Consumers to Repair Their Own MacBooks
For years, people who’ve had problems with their MacBooks had to take them to Apple for repair or risk violating their warranties. That’s finally no longer the case. In a recent announcement, Apple said the following:
“Customers who are experienced with the complexities of repairing electronic devices will be able to complete repairs on these Mac notebooks… With access to many of the same parts and tools available to Apple Store locations and Apple Authorized Service Providers.”
The announcement comes amidst a growing consumer movement called “Right to Repair”, which lobbies large tech companies and governments to allow at-home device repairs without voiding warranties.
New York was the first state to pass a law guaranteeing this right in June, and other states may follow suit soon. Microsoft has also recently changed its policies as this movement continues gaining steam.
What This Means in Practice
Although Apple has given its customers this new right to repair, it hasn’t done so without qualifications. For example, interested users will first have to read through a repair manual before they will be allowed to access the Apple Self-Service Repair Store.
Accessing this store and purchasing Apple-approved parts and tools is the only way to fix your MacBook at home without violating the warranty. In other words, you can’t just take apart the device yourself and figure it out – even if you’re technically savvy enough to do that. If you don’t use the correct Apple-branded tools and products, your warranty could still be violated.
For one-time repairs, users can rent an approved repair kit from the Apple Self-Service Repair Store. This will cost $49 initially (shipping is free) and customers are free to keep the kit for a week.
One point that’s worth making is that Apple’s statement announcing this change explicitly refers to the “M1 family of chips”. That seems to indicate that the updated policy only applies to the specific MacBook products that use these chips.
Older MacBooks all use Intel computer chips, whereas newer MacBook Airs and Pros use an upgraded M2 chip. So if your device has one of the Intel chips in it, then it’s likely that this policy change won’t apply to you (at least not yet, Apple may change that in the future).
Apple’s Motivations for the Change
Apple has been very reluctant to give its customers the right to repair. That makes sense from a business perspective because the company earns more when it can charge customers for in-store repairs.
So why the change? Well, there are likely a few different reasons. First, we can look at what Apple said itself about the reasoning behind the change:
“Self service repair is part of Apple’s efforts to further expand access to repairs. For the vast majority of users who do not have experience repairing electronic devices, visiting a professional repair provider with certified technicians who use genuine Apple parts is the safest and most reliable way to get a repair”.
In other words, they still believe that coming into a store is a better option for most customers with repair needs. But those who know what they’re doing can now take matters into their own hands without risking a warranty violation. That will help to expand access to repair services.
Apple could also be doing this to get in front of potential legislation changes around the right to repair in the near future. Apple has made plenty of changes around its data tracking practices in the past few years, which seems to show a broader overall shift from the company toward more user-friendly practices.
Last November, Apple began allowing people with iPhone 12 and 13 models to repair in the same manner. We can probably expect Apple’s repair policy to expand to more devices again in the future.