When Apple first announced their addition of the T2 chip in their machines, starting with the iMac Pro, then all machines starting from 2018, it was a big shock to many in the repair industry. Currently, the biggest resistance Apple have had in relation to their machines ‘repairability’ have been iFixit, who push service guides and push customers to complete their own repairs, and the ‘Right To Repair’ movement that started a few years ago and has been steadily gaining momentum.
When first releasing the spec sheet for the T2 chip, the main shock to the techie followers (of Apple) is the fact that it is effectively designed to fully lock down the machine if needed. Apple countered this fear with the following statement:
“The Apple T2 Security Chip brings a new level of integration and security to Mac.”
Attached here is a link to their description of the T2 Chip – https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT208862
We have been watching the back and forth intently, as being an independent parts provider and repair company, we need to know how to deal with these later models when they inevitably start coming in for repair, or customers start requesting we source parts for them.
Up until today, our concerns had been put on the back burner, as we had been comforted by the thought that the T2 Chip has been implemented to provide a wider level of security for the end user, as all the internal storage is integrated onto the logic board in the majority of these machines now. More security to the customer is always a good thing, right? (if you remember the passwords you set for them that is, but thats another story) It has now come to our attention today that the T2 Chip is, unfortunately, designed to do a bit more than just secure the customers data.
Without going into too much technical detail, the T2 Chip is effectively mapped to the other major components in the machine. Such parts as the main logic board, the complete display, the top case and the battery. (it may affect other parts as well, but these are the only ones known at the time of writing) Each individual part is internally serialised on the controller boards, and those serial numbers are logged on the T2 Chip. Now, the main fear that arose when the T2 Chip was announce, is that this would render a machine a non-starter (not functional) after any of these parts had been replaced if not fitted by Apple themselves. But recent information has confirmed that not to be the case.
Basically, you can replace parts within your machine all you want, but if you ever want to take your machine into Apple again to have any repair done, the T2 Chip will log that there is a serial number discrepancy, and your warranty will be marked as ‘void’, even if the part previously having been replaced is completely unrelated to the current fault. If you want to take it in for non warranty work, in most cases they will accept the job in. But the new internal GSX system will not allow them to complete an MRI test on the machine because of the serial number discrepancy, which means Apple will not allow any parts to be sold at the normal ‘Exchange’ price, which is the only way to get a service spare at a reasonable price from Apple. You’ll get quoted the outright purchase price of the parts in order for the job to be completed.
All in all, this seems not only counter intuitive, but completely against the Right-To-Repair movement. Apple have always said their machines are recyclable, but unfortunately, their understanding of the term goes against what we believe in so many ways. We believe in reusing, repairing and if all that fails, recycle efficiently (not into landfill). Making machines harder to repair, then making is so you can either pay extortionate prices on repairs or throw it away and get a new one is not a great solution.
Let us know what you think, and how this will affect you as either a user or a repair company, as it would be interesting to see some other experiences of this T2 Chip saga… As its likely to continue