Apple’s War on Tinkerers Continues With the Retina MacBook Pro

Steve Jobs never wanted anyone to tinker with the machines built by his company. That’s why Apple’s original Macintosh required special tools to open it up and even then, it used proprietary parts and lacked extra slots. Today, that closed spirit lives on in the company’s newest laptop, the retina display-equipped MacBook Pro. 

This week, the new, high-end machine was crowned “the least repairable laptop” yet seen by iFixIt, a site that specializes in creating do-it-yourself repair guides for products. Much like some of its ancestors, the new MacBook Pro – which starts at $2,199 -requires specialized tools to gain access to its electronic innards. Once opened, only a few of its components can be safely repaired or replaced. Others are inaccessible or too risky for users to mess with.

“It’s clear that Apple did not design this computer for the sake of repair-conscious customers,” reads iFixIt’s blog. “That said, a number of components can be removed without much fuss, provided folks use the correct tools.”

For example, the laptop’s battery can be removed, but it must be done with extreme caution lest it be inadvertently punctured. In iFixIt’s tests, the team managed to wreck two batteries trying to swap them out. Apple evidently prefers that its customers have a trained technician perform the task, a process that can run customers several hundred dollars. Other components, such as the device’s signature high-resolution LCD screen or anything packed underneath it (like the FaceTime camera), are also probably too risky for most customers to tinker with themselves. 

Future Apple products may be even harder to crack open. The company is reportedly working on a screw with an asymmetric head for which no tools exist currently, according to a photo posted anonymously to Reddit. Of course, if these new screws ever see the light of day, it won’t be long before third parties will start selling matching tools. The specialized screw rumor remains unverified, but it wouldn’t be the first time Apple has used creative hardware engineering to keep users locked out of its devices. 

Update: The asymmetric screw story appears to have been a hoax. More information here

Macbook Pro Retina photo by Photo by Eliot Weisberg/ReadWriteWeb.

Board photo by Chris Sinjo.

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