Updated: according to teardown specialists iFixit, 2018 MacBook Pros can be operated on and repaired without being bricked... at least for the time being. It's possible this could be modified in the future.
Our original report is below...
If something goes awry with your shiny new MacBook Pro, you might not want to turn to your friendly local Apple repair shop. Citing an internal Apple document, Motherboard reports that the latest MacBook Pro models have software locks installed that prevent third parties from successfully completing repairs on the laptops.
The document in question is a policy update sent to members of Apple’s Authorized Service Provider program, which details that new MacBook Pro models will be rendered ‘inoperative’ unless special ‘system configuration’ software is run following the replacement of any parts. This policy apparently applies to the iMac Pro as well, as the policy only regards Mac computers with Apple’s T2 co-processor inside.
If an Apple hardware repair shop isn’t part of the company’s Authorized Service Provider program – which naturally demands a membership fee – then it doesn’t have access to this now-essential software known as the ‘Apple Service Toolkit 2.’
This software is designed to confirm that all of the computers’ components are working properly together, but only works when the computer is connected to Apple’s Global Service Exchange (GSX) cloud servers for repairs and service, which requires a login supplied by Apple.
Specifically, Motherboard reports that the documents list which kinds of MacBook Pro and iMac Pro repairs require this configuration software to be run afterwards. For the laptops, replacing the display, logic board, top case (including the keyboard, touchpad and their housings) and Touch ID board triggers the software lock, while it will activate on the iMac Pro after the logic board or flash storage are replaced.
Want a repair? You better go through Apple
Not only does this mean that independent hardware repair shops won’t be able to reliably repair your new Macbook Pro or iMac Pro should something go wrong, but you won’t even be able to fix them yourself if you’re so inclined and capable. Even if you were willing to void your warranty to install one of the parts listed above, you won’t be able to with these machines.
It’s a move that flies in the face of the growing ‘Right to Repair’ movement in the US, with 19 states considering legislation to prevent manufacturers imposing such restrictions on repairs. Not surprisingly, Apple is lobbying against the movement, according to New York state public lobbying records that Motherboard has sourced.
Apple also has a history of making it harder to upgrade your Macs yourself by introducing soldered memory and a custom controller on its NVMe SSDs. It has yet to respond publicly to Motherboard’s report. So, cross your fingers that nothing goes wrong with your new MacBook Pro or iMac Pro – especially if there’s no authorized Apple repair shop near you.
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