15-inch MacBook Air teardown exposes a repairability nightmare

2023 MacBook Air 15-inch M2 shown open on a surface
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The brand new 15-inch MacBook Air is the subject of iFixIt’s latest teardown, and it’s bad news for those who like their laptops to be easily fixable.

The laptop ultimately gets a repairability score of 3/10 — though that could rise to a 5/10 score if Apple comes up with the promised spare parts and manuals. 

“But given their unreliable release schedule — for example, last year’s Air is still unsupported — we’re not willing to spot them the points just yet,” explains host Shahram Mokhtari.

In fact, there doesn’t seem to be too much difference between this model and the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air. And that leads to the same “miserable battery replacement experience.”

Actually, it’s slightly worse, because the new force-cancelling woofers trap the logic board, and these, in turn, are trapped by hinge cover screws, the antenna assembly cover, the speaker connectors, coax connectors and more. 

“That’s one heck of a maze,” Mokhtari adds, in something of an understatement.

In fact, you’ll likely lose track of the number of screws that need to be undone before you hit the logic board (which has “pretty much the same stuff” as the 13-inch version). When you reach the battery, you’ll find it’s only secured by pull tabs — a nice nod towards easy replacement, but something of a hollow gesture, given the meandering journey required to gain access.

At 66.5Wh, the battery is about 25% larger than the one in the 13-inch model, but it provides the same 15-18 hour run time thanks to the larger screen it needs to power. The multi-cell design is probably to boost charging speeds, letting more than one fill up at the same time.

Like other Apple Silicon MacBook Airs, the 15-inch model has a fanless design — something that iFixIt views as a mixed blessing. On one hand, the absence of a fan means there’s one less component to fail, but on the other, it’s likely to throttle when under heavy load. And a thermal scan reveals temperatures hitting a high at 37.9 degrees Celsius around the CPU, so it’s likely to warm up fast.

Easily repairable or not, we were pretty impressed with Apple’s latest when we got our hands on it last week. In our 15-inch MacBook Air review, computing writer Tony Polanco called it “the Apple laptop to beat in terms of overall price and performance.”

It “offers a near perfect mix of performance, display quality, portability and battery life,” he wrote, and as a result, comfortably found its way onto our list of the best laptops around. 

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Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.