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Apple replacing old MacBooks with brand-new models due to spare parts shortage

MacBook Pro battery replacement

According to internal documents seen by MacRumors, Apple is exchanging older 2012 and 2013 MacBook Pros with brand-new models, thanks to a shortage of spare parts. Customers who bring in their older MacBook Pros for battery replacement — a $200 out-of-warranty repair, or free with AppleCare+ — are receiving brand-new laptops instead of a new battery.

The unusual move is thanks to a “severe constraint of top case assemblies with integrated batteries” for the mid-2012 or early 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro. In the case of that laptop, it appears that Apple prefers its local repair technicians to replace the entire top case assembly for a battery replacement, even though iFixit appears to show that the battery is replaceable with a couple of specialized screws.

According to MacRumors, Apple is offering customers who have a 2012 or 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro that needs a battery service the option of delaying the service, in return for having the fee waived, or a “functionally identical” new laptop. Since Apple doesn’t have stock of the five-year-old 15-inch Pro, that “functionally identical” laptop is a 2015, 2016 or even 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro. Given that the current 15-inch Pro starts at around $2,000, that’s a huge win for anyone who can take advantage of the policy while it lasts.

In order to qualify, customers need a 15-inch MacBook Pro from mid-2012 or early 2013, and the battery needs to be due for a service. MacBooks will automatically notify their users when a battery service is needed. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a foolproof exchange: it’s a hit-or-miss thing, depending on your local Apple Store, inventory availability, and the mood of your technician on the day.