Bait and fix: Apple is basically forcing you to get AppleCare for your new MacBook Pro

The new
MacBook Pros
aren’t cheap. The least expensive 13-inch
model costs $1,800 and goes all the way up to $6,700 for the
maxed-out 15-inch model with a 2.9GHz Intel Core i9
processor. And now there’s a hidden catch that might make
them way more expensive.

Along with the high price tag and any dongles you may need to
purchase to get your old USB-A devices up and running, you
might be in for a rude awakening if you try to fix your new
MacBook Pro. As reported by Motherboard, Apple has introduced new
software locks with its new laptops that “will render the
computer ‘inoperative’ unless a proprietary Apple ‘system
configuration’ software is run after parts of the system are
replaced.”

The new policy, which is also being implemented on the $5,000
iMac Pro, only refer to major repairs, but it’s pretty much
covers everything you’d need to get fixed: the display, logic
board, top case (which includes the keyboard and trackpad), and
Touch ID sensor. Once the locks kick in, the computer “will
only begin functioning again after Apple or a member of one of
Apple’s Authorized Service Provider repair program runs
diagnostic software called Apple Service Toolkit 2.”

Why this matters: Apple hasn’t exactly been
up-front about this new policy, and some purchasers may be in
for a surprise when they try to fix their MacBook after their
limited one-year warranty runs out. Apple has long been making
its products unrepairable by soldering RAM and gluing screens,
but this is different. Apple should be telling people at the
point of sale that they will need to take their MacBook to an
authorized repair shop if it breaks and giving them an option
to buy Apple Care. AppleCare isn’t cheap, but it’s still better
than paying for a new screen or motherboard.

This probably isn’t the last we’ll hear of this issue. Not only
will it likely extend to the new Macs Apple is likely to
release later this month, it’s also at the heart of a new
Right to
Repair bill
 currently being pushed in 19 states,
including Apple’s home state of California. Motherboard reports
that Apple is fighting the legislation, which will come as no
surprise to anyone who has tried to repair an Apple product
recently.

AppleCare or broke

The issue is with the
T2 chip
. It’s a separate chip responsible for things like
the FaceTime camera and the Touch Bar, but it also validates
the entire boot process when the power comes on, an extra
security step to that verifies everything is trusted. If it’s
not—in the case of a repair, for instance—your Mac won’t start.
So you’ll need to take it to an Apple Store, where you will
most certainly be charged, possibly for a whole new repair if
the original one doesn’t meet Apple’s standards.

That means the days of getting a pentalobe screwdriver and
trying to save your MacBook at home are
over. And it also puts a severe dent in the third-party repair
shops that aren’t authorized by Apple. You know, the ones you
go to get a reasonable price on your MacBook repair. So Apple’s
leaving us with two options:

  • Keep your fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong with your
    expensive new MacBook Pro for three-plus years.
  • Spend $269 (13-inch) or $379 (15-inch) on AppleCare+ for
    Mac and get two additional years of hardware repairs.

AppleCare will ensure that when something goes wrong with your
new MacBook withing the first three years, you can bring it to
the Apple Store and they’ll fix it properly and for free. And
it applies to accidental damage too, though you’ll have to pay
a deductible of $99 for “screen damage or external enclosure
damage, “or $299 for “other damage.”

Otherwise, you might fix your Mac but still find out that it’s
an expensive paperweight.

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