MacBooks and Chromebooks are among the worst laptops for repairability, report claims

A person fixes a MacBook using one of Apple's Self Service Repair kits on a blue desk mat.
(Image credit: Apple)

When it comes to laptops, MacBooks and Chromebooks are two of the most popular options on the market. But they’re falling behind in one key way, according to a new industry report: repairability. In fact, the two laptop types received some of the lowest repairability scores contained in the entire report.

The analysis, dubbed Failing the Fix, was put together by the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), a consumer advocacy organization in the U.S. It based its findings on repairability scores that are required for any laptop sold in France, while adjusting the French index’s scores based on its own weighting.

The results weren’t good for Chromebooks and MacBooks. For the former, Chromebooks scored a lower average repair score than the average for all other laptops, hitting a grade of 6.3 compared to 7.0 for every other laptop type. 

When looking specifically at disassembly – which PIRG defines as the most important factor it considers – Chromebooks came in with a score of 14.9 compared to 15.2 for other laptops. As the report put it, “while often considered an affordable choice for individuals or schools, Chromebooks are on average less repairable than other laptops.”

Apple didn’t fare any better. In fact, it was rated the worst laptop brand for repairability, and was the only company to score a lowly D grade. In contrast, the top-rated brands, Asus and Acer, scored B+.

Apple also scored a miserable 4.0 for disassembly, far below the 9.1 scored by Asus and the 8.1 Acer was awarded. In fact, Lenovo, Apple’s closest competitor in this category, scored 6.6, indicating how far behind Apple is in this metric.

Right to repair

A MacBook being repaired

(Image credit: iFixit)

Aside from repairability and disassembly scores, the PIRG report also considered whether manufacturers were part of industry groups that lobby against right to repair legislation, the availability and affordability of spare parts, how often updates are provided, and whether repair documents are readily available.

Apple has long been criticized for its seemingly hostile attitude towards home repair of its devices and the right to repair movement more broadly, but things have started to shift in recent years as regulatory pressure has begun to bear down. 

The company has made repair kits available for its devices and has also supported California’s right to repair bill, marking a sea change in its actions. That was reflected in some areas of the PIRG report, which praised Apple’s phones for improving their repairability compared to last year (although, like almost all smartphones, they’re still tough to fix).

Google, meanwhile, has been blasted for limiting support for older models, making it much harder to fix them if required. Although Google later offered extended support for Chromebooks, it wasn’t enough to placate all of its critics.

So, if you’re thinking about getting either a Chromebook or a laptop made by Apple, you might want to consider how easy it will be to repair. Based on the PIRG report, you probably shouldn’t expect too much.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.