The new MacBook Pro and iMac Pro models contain a special T2 chip for advanced security features, but now we know that there’s a downside: You can’t repair your own computer without it passing Apple’s official diagnostics tool… which only Apple Authorized shops can use.
Update: Turns out that this story isn’t actually completely true. iFixit actually went and tested repairing a new MacBook Pro, and had no issues repairing it. That doesn’t mean this won’t eventually happen because the new documentation does exist, but as of right now, the story isn’t accurate.
This is according to a document that was distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers last month, and obtained by MacRumors and Motherboard yesterday. Apple has introduced a new software lock that will make your computer “inoperative” unless Apple’s proprietary system configuration (diagnostics) software has been run.
“For Macs with the Apple T2 chip, the repair process is not complete for certain parts replacements until the AST 2 System Configuration suite has been run. Failure to perform this step will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair”
For the MacBook Pro, if any repairs include the display, logic board, TouchID, or the top part of the case, which includes the keyboard and trackpad, and the Apple diagnostics are not run, this will end up causing your laptop to stop working. For the iMac Pro, the lock is limited to the logic board and flash storage changes.
The Apple T2 chip has a lot of different functionality, including the Secure Enclave, SSD encryption keys, TouchID data, and secure boot features to prevent anybody from being able to modify the hardware and attempt to get access to your encrypted data. These security features were originally designed for the iPhone, and have famously been very difficult for anybody—including the FBI—to bypass. Now that Apple’s laptops are also fully encrypted, they’ve been slowly adding the same features there as well, in case your laptop is stolen or taken from you.
As our devices become more integrated, and hardware security continues to become more important, we’re going to run into these situations. The downside is that we can’t repair our own hardware without it breaking, and while right-to-repair laws have been gaining support, it’s unlikely that Apple will be changing anything anytime soon.
At the very least, consumers need to be made aware that if you buy a MacBook Pro, you can only get it fixed by bringing it back to Apple.
Image Credit: Apple