DIY gadget repair fans haven't had much good news for the past few years, but there are signs that the waves may change – at least – for Apple devices. The Cupertino company does not really lead by example when making repairs, battery replacements, and the ease of other unofficial tinkering with laptops, tablets and smartphones, but that can change.
For a long time, it looked like the trajectory of the consumer electronics industry and the desires of people who wanted to be able to open their devices and be able to cope with the technology in them that deviated uncontrollably. Appetite for thinner and thinner gadgets, along with a push for water resistance and slimmer factors, means more sheaths are sealed and special components.
This means that companies like iFixit, which sell tools to improve devices and run teardowns to provide insight into how they gather, are increasingly frustrated. Even if the gadget is ready to open, what is in it can often be a big problem. Glued parts, exclusive screws and components, and general design strategies that emphasize complete replacement rather than any repairs.
Apple is not the only culprit, but this is one of the most consistent ways to frustrate do-it-yourself people. That is why, when the MacBook Air and Mac mini arrived, we did not have very high expectations for their designs when they had to improve their potential. Apparently, we shouldn't be so pessimistic.
No, Apple did not suddenly make changes and made everything modular. You still need some special screwdrivers to consider opening the case, and once you are in it, this is not a free-for-all part of the available section. That can't be given Apple's priority here.
Nevertheless there are some welcome signs that Apple has at least considered repairing and replacing components on the phone. In the case of the MacBook Air, for example, there are several touches of design that are accepted such as the Thunderbolt 3 port which is separated on their own board and thus easier to replace. The speaker is pressed with less aggressive adhesive, while a positive battery is welcomed with screws and a pull-to-remove adhesive strip.
Mac mini even more friendly. Apple designed the memory to be upgraded after the fact, with a standard SO-DIMM module, and entering through a circular bottom panel and then disassembling the components inside was not too difficult as it should be. Components such as a power supply can be easily replaced, and there is no excess adhesive.
Now, keep in mind that this is an increase from the very low level of previous behavior. MacBook Air processors, memory and storage are all soldered and cannot be upgraded. The same applies to processors and storage on Mac mini. Condensing everything into a number of boards might make the device smaller, but if one thing does damage it forces the replacement of each component responsible for the board.
All the same, compared to RAM sold from old Mac mini, and the glue-fest that is part of the old MacBook Air, there are some important changes here. Some of that is undoubtedly in Apple's interests, because it looks ahead when old technicians may need to make improvements. Not presenting them with such a struggle to overcome the courage of each machine – or replace common failure points – make work flow more efficient.
Even so, Apple's advantage is our advantage too. While the days of our computers can improve themselves comprehensively long enough behind us, some level of awareness that extends the life of an increasingly expensive gadget is in the interests of consumers is a welcome thing. This also bodes well for the upcoming Mac Pro, which professional users have prayed for will be easier to upgrade-DIY than existing models, in the form of garbage.
For that we have to wait until 2019. Until then, although it's usually a bad idea to be proud of your gadget, there is at least a little more guarantee to do if the worst thing happens, any improvements may not be enough trauma to destroy the wallet in recent years.