iFixit Takes the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro Apart

iFixit is renowned for its Apple product teardowns and free online repair manuals. Usually, after each new Apple product release, the team quickly takes the device apart, and the latest “victim” has been the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro

If you recall, iFixit called the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s bigger brother the “least repairable laptop yet”, citing “lack of repairability, upgradeability and recyclability” issues. Turns out Apple decided to proceed with nearly the same compromises in the manufacture of the thinnest notebook in the world. The iFixit team gave the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro 2 out of 10 for repairability, a bit higher than the 15-inch Retina MBP. To be honest, this single point doesn’t help too much in making it repair friendly.

The teardown team raised its score due to its improved recyclability, saying:

The 13″ Retina battery is a step in the right direction towards recyclability and repairability, but it’s still a far cry from the no-adhesive MacBook Pro batteries of yesteryear. The task [to remove the battery] took us roughly 15 minutes to complete, without the use of a heat gun. All we needed was a Torx screwdriver and three spudgers. In contrast, it took us three attempts to successfully remove the 15″ Retina’s battery without puncturing it, and the third attempt took over half an hour to perform.

Also, they noticed a slight change in the device’s battery cells: they have been rearranged to allow “designers to cleverly tuck the SSD away underneath the trackpad assembly,” which means you can replace the trackpad, if it breaks. This procedure is impossible with the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

iFixit found a couple odd or “un-Apple”-like additions during its teardown; here is one:

At first we thought we found some kitten fuzz, but it turns out that Apple glued in a small piece of steel-wool-like metal on top of two of the speaker screws. Why, you ask? We don’t know, but we have some hypotheses: grounding, noise reduction, tamper-evident seals?

And finally, their verdict:

  • MacBook Pro 13″ Retina Display Repairability: 2 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)
  • There appears to be enough space to fit a regular 5 mm or 7 mm 2.5″ laptop drive, but a custom cable will need to be developed.
  • The battery is still glued into the laptop’s top case, but it’s slightly less difficult to remove compared to the 15″ model.
  • Proprietary pentalobe screws prevent you from gaining access to anything inside.
  • The RAM is surface-mount soldered to the logic board, so no upgrade is possible. It will forever have 8 GB of RAM.
  • The display assembly is almost impossible to take apart. If anything ever fails inside the display, you’ll need to replace the display as a whole.

Will you buy a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro?