Apple's easiest to replace battery is in... an iMac

iFixit tears down the M3 workstation

The iFixit gang has rounded out their year by tearing into 2023's M3 iMac, where they found Apple's most replaceable battery yet.

"The iMac battery is twice as repairable!" exclaimed iFixit before admitting that, yes, this was because there is just one battery lurking within the iPad-on a-stick. Still, once the screen and some screws were removed, the CR2016 battery used to keep the CMOS settings alive could be easily switched out.

"I like the idea that the iMac's CMOS battery is probably Apple's most easily replaced battery," said the team behind the teardown.

If only that were true of the tech giant's other products, which usually feature battery packs that are difficult to reach or are sufficiently custom that replacing them isn't an option.

As for the M3 iMac, the iFixit team homed in on Apple's modular approach and commended the presence of the external power supply and Ethernet port. We shudder to think how much Apple would charge for such components; this is the company that asks £69 / €85.00 / $59 for a USB-C power adaptor.

The iMac was, however, relatively easy to get into. Thanks to some helpful slack, the screen was easily removed, and the cables were unplugged. The logic board shield came away after the removal of some T3 Torx screws to reveal the brains of the machine. As is the norm nowadays, the memory and storage were soldered in place, making upgrades nigh on impossible, and the M3 chip was nestled behind a heat sink, also secured with screws along with a bit of thermal paste.

"At least the ports are still modular," observed iFixit, as more screws were removed and the ports lifted out, revealing the connectors.

Aside from our concerns about manufacturers' habit of making storage and RAM non-user serviceable, the iMac seems relatively simple to get into, and the design lends itself well to repair, down to the adhesive used to stick the screen to the chassis.

However, that same approach to modularity might be undone by Apple's increasing tendency to lock components and make repair difficult for the enthusiastic amateur. Apple's parts pairing practice resulted in iFixit downgrading the repairability score of the iPhone 14 from a respectable 7 out of 10 to a woeful 4. 2023's iPhone 15 hasn't reversed the practise, undermining a relatively repairable design.

iFixit is yet to give the iMac a repairability score. While relatively repairable at first glance, Apple's determination to make the screen as thin as possible has continued the theme of making the RAM and storage resolutely not upgradable. This seems to be a retrograde step on a machine aimed squarely at the desktop and likely to cause a substantial dent in the buyer's wallet. ®

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