Back in July 2012 I got my hands on one of the very first new 15″ Retina MacBook Pros. When I reviewed it back then I was damn impressed, it was a huge advance from my previous machine. Five years on, did it really live up to the hype or has it been a bit of a let-down? Here’s the Long Term Report.
This machine has been round the block. Here’s a breakdown of its visits to the Apple Store over the years.
Just shy of its first anniversary I had a new replacement screen fitted due to the image retention issue that affected some of the early machines. When Apple replaces a screen you get an entire new top case / lid, and this one had a value of £438 on the paperwork.
I had the extended 3 year warranty that the addition of Apple Care brought and just before it expired I took it in with another problem. The anti-reflective retina coating on the screen was coming off leaving a bit of a mess, similar to this photo…
The Apple ‘Genius’ took one look at it and agreed with me and sorted it very quickly. It had a whole new top case fitted again at the same value of £438.
While I was there I pointed out that 2 of the 4 feet had come off. So I also got a brand new bottom case as a good will gesture (the only way Apple would replace the missing feet). Not sure what the value would have been here but lets conservatively guess £50
Then around the Autumn of 2015 the machine started to suffer random crashes. I noticed some weird graphics on the screen before the lockups and after some searching found my machine’s serial number was in the range for a recall for graphics chip issue.
So now it needed a complete mainboard replacement and the Apple store sent me to their authorised service provider just outside Belfast. The great guys at mac-sys.com turned it round very quickly and efficiently with a repair valued at around £500 – once more free of charge to me even though the machine was now outside its 3 year Apple Care extended warranty.
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That brings us to this year (2017) when I noticed the retina coating was again starting to come off the screen, not as bad as the first time but still annoying, especially at a point right in the middle of the display. Even with the laptop being almost 5 years old now I thought it was worth a try to get the screen replaced again so I took it in to the Belfast Apple store once more. They agreed!
The paper work below was signed (now £558 for the top half) making it the 4th screen in total.
Bad News – Good News
On the same visit I asked the guy about the ‘service battery’ warning that had appeared a few months previously. The machine still worked on battery but only for around 3 hours instead of the advertised “up to 7”.
Fair enough, batteries are consumed over time, but at launch Apple said it was supposed to drop to 80% after 1,000 cycles. Mine had dropped to 66% of its original capacity after only around 660 cycles (checkout the excellent Coconut Battery Mac app). The battery replacement cost has gone up from £159 when I originally reviewed the machine to £199 today.
After a chat with his manager the Genius returned to tell me the parts for the battery swap were ‘constrained’ and wouldn’t be available for 4 months. But in light of this inconvenience they would replace the battery free as well!
So that one visit, with an almost 5 year old laptop, 2 years outside of its extended warranty, I got over £750 worth of repairs approved with no charge.
While in one way all this isn’t a good advert for Apple’s (early model) retina MacBook Pros, it certainly is a great advert for their support. What other brand would have done this?
The machine has been fantastic. Powerful and practical, a joy to own and use. It has been on almost literally 24/7 every day for the last 5 years. It’s used so much that the palm rests either side of the track pad have been worn shiny.
As the battery is glued to the top case that will be replaced too once the parts are available in September. That means that there won’t be a single original part left of the machine I purchased back in July 2012.
It would be great to upgrade to the new Kaby Lake CPUs and take advantage of even more power, a faster SSD, better battery life and Touch ID. Five years ago this MacBook cost £1,960. Adding to that the 1TB Transcend JetDrive 725 upgrade that I fitted in year two brings it to a total investment of £2,390.
To put that into perspective, a friend recently bought this BMW for less than that. I’ve always championed the long-term value of Macs, and this story bears that out, but I feel Apple are in danger of crossing a line on what’s justifiable. Admittedly the post-Brexit vote exchange rates haven’t helped things.
So am going to upgrade? Not yet. Even if I was inclined to drop £3K on a new laptop I’m waiting (probably in vain) to see if Apple will add the SD slot back in at some stage.
And anyway, my 5 year old laptop is brand new 🙂
- June 2013 – LCD Display Clamshell Retina £0.00 (£438.00 value)
- March 2015 – LCD Display Clamshell Retina £0.00 (£438.00 value)
- March 2015 – Bottom Case £0.00 (£50.00? value)
- November 2015 – Main Board £0.00 (£500.00 value)
- May 2017 – LCD Display Clamshell Retina £0.00 (£558.00 value)
- September 2017 – Replacement Battery & Top Case £0.00 (£199.00)
- TOTAL Value of Free Repairs – £2,183.00