When is Replaceable Not Really Any More?
February 13, 2013
I have had a couple of people call me out on my editorial in this month's (March 2013) Fade Out, "The Mac As Disposable Appliance", where there was a factual error. I stated that the new Retina MacBook Pro had a Solid State Drive that couldn't be replaced; this is not true, it's actually a reasonably straightforward process that only involves two tools you'll have to custom-purchase: a pentalobe screwdriver (like a Torx but with 5 points rather than 6) and a spudger (to disconnect the battery before doing the surgery).
I think this doesn't completely disprove my point, though. Mac laptops are now in the same realm as iMacs, in that they require specialized tools to open them up and are beginning to require custom-made replacement parts rather than off-the-shelf components. If you can get the box open and don't mind voiding your warranty, yes you can replace the SSD, but you'll have to buy a specially sized and shaped model that is specific to that machine rather than a generic 2.5" SATA SSD that most other laptops use.
It's inaccurate to say that there's NOTHING you can do inside a Retina MacBook Pro, but the trend I'm talking about in my editorial is still there, and I wouldn't be surprised if it continues to the eventual endpoint I hint at. Yes, you can always find a way to crack open one of these devices and mess with the innards... there are entire websites devoted to this sort of thing. But it's getting harder and harder to do, and at least in Apple-land, I still believe that the era of the user-upgradable device is passing away.