It was long assumed that one of the big sacrifices to making a laptop as thin as the MacBook Air was severely diminishing its repairability. But iFixit gutted the recently announced 2020 MacBook Air and discovered more than just keyboard improvements; Apple has also made it easier to fix several of the laptop’s most crucial components.
The 2020 MacBook Air is a much welcome update to the disappointing MBA update released back in 2018, with 10th-gen Intel processors that can be maxed out with a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7, a 256GB SSD that can be upgraded to 2TB, and a $1,599 starting price tag. But anyone who’s upgraded their Apple laptop in the past few years really only cares that the company has replaced the much-hated and very flawed butterfly keyboards with the new scissor-switch design introduced on the 16-inch MacBook Pro late last year.
As part of its exploratory teardown, iFixit found that the new scissor-switch keyboard, which vastly improves the MacBook Air’s typing experience, adds just half-a-millimetre to the thick side of the ultra-slim laptop, making Apple’s justifications for creating the butterfly keyboard in the first place even more questionable today. But iFixit also found another welcome surprise in the new MacBook Air: the cables connecting the trackpad are no longer trapped under the laptop’s logic board, allowing that component to be disconnected and removed as soon as the MBA’s back cover is off. This update also makes it much easier to swap out the laptop’s battery without having to mess with the logic board.
Despite those much welcome design improvements, iFixit still had to give the MacBook Air a disappointing four out of ten on its repairability scale. The improved keyboard is welcome, but not unbreakable, and replacing it requires a full teardown. Apple is also still permanently soldering the MacBook Air’s SSD drive and RAM in place, making most upgrades all but impossible after the fact.