Apple’s "Brick" has a rocky start

  • Chicago (IL) – Some buyers of Apple’s fancy new Macbooks are complaining about a loose battery/HDD latch and slanted function keys on the keyboard. Apparently, Apple agreed to refund or replace certain notebooks, unless the notebook isn’t build-to-order and dead on arrival. These new notebooks also come with liquid detection sensors to help service technicians figure out whether spilled liquid affected a malfunctioning notebook – and deny a free repair as a result.

    "The cover was fine at first, but after I took it off for the first time, when I put it back on it didn't go as tight, and started moving around creating gaps in the front and back,"
    about his brand new Macbook in the MacRumor forums. This problem is not widespread, but is some cases it may put substantial pressure on the aluminum frame, the battery and the hard drive.

    Staying with its tradition, Apple isn’t saying anything about a potential problem and most users seem not to be too worried about a loose latch. However, more vocal fans complain that Apple failed to engineer a simple latch on a $3000 notebook. "It's like buying a BMW and the door does not close tight," one affected user wrote.

    Another poster said that Apple replaced his Macbook that had a battery cover with a poor fit. Users who experience these issues may be tempted to pay a visit to the Apple Store and ask for a refund. However, if you opted for a custom-built Macbook, you are out of luck. "Configure-to-order, personalized or other customized products may not be returned for refund or exchange under any circumstances unless such product is Dead on Arrival," Apple's sales and refunds policy states.

    Of course, other vendors also face similar manufacturing glitches, especially in their first-generation products that require factory retooling and a learning curve. Still, we can't help but mention that increasing popularity of products such as the Mac and iPhone is also increasing the pressure on Apple's Chinese manufacturing partners who not only have to put new manufacturing techniques into place, but seem to be running a tight ship in terms of fab capacities – which could easily impact product quality at some point in time.

    Liquid sensors

    We also were told that that there is another new feature in Macbooks, a feature Apple has not talked about yet. There is a Liquid Submersion Indicator inside new Macbooks: According to the Los Angeles Times, Macbooks and Macbook Pros feature two sensors located under the keyboard and near the trackpad that change color when liquid is spilled over the keyboard. A Liquid Submersion Indicator is common in cellphones, which have these sensors typically underneath the battery, making it easy for a service technician to determine whether water spillage has damaged the device. Even Apple's iPhone sports such a sensor (inside the headset port) that turns red when a service technician shines a light into the port.

    The inclusion of Liquid Submersion Indicator sensors, the first ever in an Apple notebook, means you will not be able to claim an AppleCare warranty, if you accidentally spilled liquid over such a notebook. Apple apparently provides its authorized service providers with instructions on how to read the liquid detection sensors and instructs them to deny warranty if a liquid spill is detected - although they do have the choice to honor the warranty on a case-by-case basis if the spill was small and does not require replacements from Apple’s Cupertino headquarter. Apple declined to comment on a story but a company spokesperson cited the Macbook instruction guide that suggests that users should shield their notebook from "rain, snow and fog."