In an unexpected move on Monday, when everyone was looking at the new iPhones, Apple also tweaked its notebook lineup. Among the changes: The 13-inch MacBook Pro now has a non-removable battery. Why does Apple love to torture us so much?
The company pulled the same trick with the iPhone--it's always been a monolithic device, with a built-in battery and only one hatch for the SIM card. Skeptics had a field day: The idea of a phone with a non-removable battery was ridiculed as impractical. What would you do if you were somewhere remote and it ran out of power?
Then the Macbook Air was introduced--and they did the same thing again. And the same old arguments were trotted out, again. What happens if you're on a field assignment, and your battery craps out? For any other notebook you'd just slot in a pre-charged spare...but that's not possible with the Air.
Next-up, enhancing on the Air's unibody aluminum design, came the monster 17-inch MacBook Pro minus the removable battery. Apple labelled it revolutionary. Doubters said it was plain dumb, and another way for Apple to get at your cash--when you pay for a replacement battery.
Now the 13-inch MacBook Pro has gone the same way. Apple's been careful to hedge against the criticisms, and notes it should last for 1,000 charging cycles. A tear-down by iFixit has even shown that with a bit of user-bravery and the right screwdriver tools it should actually be replaceable, assuming a third party company makes a spare.
It seems Apple is keen to push this idea as far as possible. And, it's easy to see why. It's all about design.
Check out the iPhone, iMac and MacBooks--the design calls for super-clean and simple lines. There's a paucity of hatches, and even seams and fixings are minimized. Peer under a MacBook and there's none of the plastic-reinforcing structural mess you see on other laptops. Removing the hatches and latches needed for replaceable batteries is just an extension of this. And it's not just about looks: In industrial design, having a built-in battery simplifies the unit's structure. It's also cheaper--there's less machining and raw materials involved.
For all those good reasons listed above, you can bet you'll be seeing more non-replaceable batteries in non-Apple gadgets soon.
Also, to foil the critics, here's a big question: How often do you think the average person carries a spare phone or laptop battery around with them? It's much easier to stick the charger in your bag and look for a power outlet. Having said that though, my first-gen MacBook Air's battery life is appallingly miniscule. Anyone know where I can get a third-party replacement?