2020 MacBook Air is more repairable than predecessor, teardown finds

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2020
Apple's new 2020 MacBook Air boasts more robust parts and a higher degree of repairability than its predecessor, according to a new teardown of the notebook.

Besides a new keyboard, the 2020 MacBook Air features some small design changes that make it easier to service.
The 2020 MacBook Air features some design changes that make it easier to service. Photo courtesy iFixit


The MacBook Air was last redesigned in 2018, a revamp that included many features seen in Apple's MacBook Pro lineup -- such as a the problem-prone butterfly keyboard. In the 2020 MacBook Air, it seems, Apple is walking back on at least some of those features.

One of the most important changes is the move back to a scissor switch keyboard, which Apple dubs the Magic Keyboard. Repair site iFixit's teardown notes that the Magic Keyboard is here, and although much more reliable, didn't require a major overhaul of the MacBook's internals. For example, the new MacBook Air is about 0.5mm thicker than its predecessor because of the Magic Keyboard and only slightly heavier.

The MacBook Air is the second Mac notebook to feature a new Magic Keyboard, after the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple is also largely expected to release a new smaller MacBook Pro model with the same keyboard improvements.

But the Magic Keyboard, while arguably the most significant change in the 2020 MacBook Air, isn't the only difference here. iFixit notes that the interior of the device looks fairly similar, but adds that there are a few new details.

For one, there's a larger heatsink over the MacBook Air's processor, which Apple didn't mention in its press release but could offer some improved thermal performance.

More notably is a new cable configuration between the logic board and the trackpad, which allows for much easier removal of the trackpad and battery. Repair technicians are now able to remove the battery without moving the logic board. iFixit points out that the change is seemingly "squarely aimed are improving serviceability in the existing design."

In addition to stretch-release adhesive seen in past MacBook Air models, the speakers also feature new screws securing them in place, which should make disassembly a bit easier.

As a result of these changes, iFixit has given the 2020 MacBook Air a repairability score of 4 out of 10, a point higher than the previous model and the same as the 2015 MacBook Air.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    More robust and repairable shows that Apple has their customers' best interest at heart. We see this trend across all the hardware products. As a customer, a user, a stockholder, and just for GP, I like it.
    TomPMRIcaladanianbaconstangrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 9
    FatmanFatman Posts: 513member
    Now Apple just needs to replace the ‘Goldie locks’ smaller MacBook Pro with a 14.1” screen, new Intel procs, new keyboard, and base config with at least 256MB drive (I’d prefer 512 - but that won’t happen) and the trilogy will be complete!
    caladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 9
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,711member
    Fatman said:
    Now Apple just needs to replace the ‘Goldie locks’ smaller MacBook Pro with a 14.1” screen, new Intel procs, new keyboard, and base config with at least 256MB drive (I’d prefer 512 - but that won’t happen) and the trilogy will be complete!
    If you are making a wish list how about user upgradeable RAM? 
    caladaniandysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 9
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,429member
    More robust and repairable shows that Apple has their customers' best interest at heart. We see this trend across all the hardware products. As a customer, a user, a stockholder, and just for GP, I like it.
    Or they really just care about their own techs being able to do a better, cheaper, faster, less annoying repair job...
    baconstang
  • Reply 5 of 9
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    DAalseth said:
    Fatman said:
    Now Apple just needs to replace the ‘Goldie locks’ smaller MacBook Pro with a 14.1” screen, new Intel procs, new keyboard, and base config with at least 256MB drive (I’d prefer 512 - but that won’t happen) and the trilogy will be complete!
    If you are making a wish list how about user upgradeable RAM? 
    On the Air upgradability doesn’t matter as much.  But, I agree the Pro models should be user upgradable.
  • Reply 6 of 9
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,561member
    DAalseth said:
    Fatman said:
    Now Apple just needs to replace the ‘Goldie locks’ smaller MacBook Pro with a 14.1” screen, new Intel procs, new keyboard, and base config with at least 256MB drive (I’d prefer 512 - but that won’t happen) and the trilogy will be complete!
    If you are making a wish list how about user upgradeable RAM? 
    The other items are feasible, that one isn’t. I wouldn’t expect to see slotted RAM on MBs any more than I would on an iPad. 
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 9
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 552member
    Based on this, there is still a reason for the 13" MacBook Pro. It has much more capable cooling (even the 2TB3 with a single fan), so it should be able to sustain high performance for much longer before thermal throttling.

    The board also almost definitely has only two pads for flash chips, so the MacBook Pro's SSD should be significantly faster.

    13" MBP is definitely due for a bump to LPDDR4 RAM and at least 32 GB max capacity.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,895member
    A step in the right direction. I hope this move is indicative of a change in design philosophy and we see future designs creeping up the reparability scale.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,042member
    DAalseth said:
    If you are making a wish list how about user upgradeable RAM? 
    Because that will never happen in an Apple laptop. It did, way back (in computer years). The added thickness alone would be an anathema to Apple, let alone the added expense and time required to build that, not to mention potentially reducing long term reliability.

    Then there's the profit in the price of CTO RAM. We're lucky you can still upgrade the RAM in a 27" iMac and the 2020 mini. Apple could make the iMac Pro the only Mac with user upgradeable memory.

    I'm waiting for somebody to show what's involved in upgrading the 2020's memory and if it's easier or harder than a 2018, which is much more involved than a 2012 mini and not possible in the 2014.

    dysamoria said:
    Or they really just care about their own techs being able to do a better, cheaper, faster, less annoying repair job...
    This. Any benefit to the consumer is secondary, and probably incidental to Apple's thought process.  A change "squarely aimed are improving serviceability in the existing design" will not automatically result in a decrease in our repair costs, as much as I'd like to see that happen, along with a decrease in the price of Apple Care.


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