Chromebooks and MacBooks are the least repairable laptops, according to the results of an analysis conducted by the consumer protection department of the American organization Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). This is not the first time Apple and Google have come under fire for selling devices that are more difficult to repair than others.
Report Failing the Fix (2024) is largely based on the repairability index, which is assigned to laptops and other electronics sold in France. But PIRG experts noted other aspects, including the availability of spare parts; the availability of repair documentation, the release of software updates and the ability to reset the firmware to factory settings were taken into account; as well as the participation of the manufacturer in organizations that oppose the introduction of laws on the right of consumers to independently repair equipment.
In total, PIRG studied 139 laptop models and concluded that Chromebooks, while still more affordable than other devices, are still less repairable than other laptops. Thus, the disassembly index for Chromebooks was 14.9 versus 15.2 for other models. The report cited ten Chromebooks from Acer, ASUS, Dell and HP with an average repairability rating of 6.3, compared with 7.0 for other models.
Google recently increased the support period for Chromebooks from eight to ten years, but PIRG, firstly, did not teach this aspect, and, secondly, noted that if it becomes economically unprofitable for the manufacturer to support outdated devices, it should give the community the opportunity to do so on their own or simplify the installation of alternative OSs so that consumers do not have to throw away working devices.
The authors of the study gave the lowest repairability rating to Apple products: the MacBook family received a “D” rating, falling behind products from ASUS, Acer, Dell, Microsoft, HP and Lenovo. Apple received the lowest disassembly score among other manufacturers – 4 out of 10, against an average of 7.3. The company has been criticized for years for prioritizing design at the expense of ease of repair and technical needs. Traditionally an opponent of the right to repair, Apple now actively supports it with the passage of the corresponding law in California – it even has a do-it-yourself repair program. Compared to last year, Apple has improved its disassembly and repair documentation scores, but this was not enough to compete with other manufacturers.
PIRG looked at different models from each computer manufacturer: for example, there were 8 Apple laptops and 48 Dell laptops – the rating included models that had already been assigned a French repairability index and were sold in the United States. Experts found that the models studied this year were more difficult to disassemble than a year ago—the average disassembly score dropped from 7.5 to 7.3. This probably indicates that “manufacturers are failing to develop laptops that are easier to disassemble and repair”. But with innovators like Framework actively pushing the boundaries of product durability, Chromebook and MacBook makers have an incentive to improve their repairability.