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It’s Not Their Fault, Just Their Turn: Apple Adds Five 2013 & 2014 MacBooks to Vintage List

It may not feel like time is passing, or that anything is on schedule. But Apple is ready to move forward. As it does every year, the hardware maker just added a bunch of laptops (and one iPod Touch) to its list of “Vintage” products. This go-round, it put MacBook Airs released in 2013 and 2014, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro sold in 2014, on its soon-to-be-forgotten list.

Apple’s “Vintage” and “Obsolete” lists are anything but a straight chronology. Vintage products are those that “have not been sold for more than 5 and less than 7 years ago.” 2013 and 2014 were more than 5 years ago, but Apple may have sold those models of MacBook Air and Pro until 2015 or later. Now that they’re Vintage, Apple says these MacBooks can “continue to receive hardware service from Apple service providers… subject to availability of inventory, or as required by law.” Once they’ve been unavailable new for more than 7 years, they’ll move to Obsolete, where Apple provides no service at all. (You can thank California’s Lemon Law for that little two-year gap there).

I’m writing this post on a 15-inch, mid-2012 MacBook Pro, the “Unibody” kind, which is still Vintage and not Obsolete. It’s running the latest Mac OS, Catalina. Apple sold this many-ported, eminently upgrade-able MacBook for many years beyond 2012. The 2013 and 2014 MacBook Airs and Pro models, however, were built with a different mindset. The 2013 MacBook Air had many more ports than you’d expect from modern ultra-portables, but you couldn’t upgrade the memory. The same went for the 2014 Air models. The 13-inch MacBook Pro from mid-2014 inherited all the sins of its late-2012 Retina father: tricky assembly, no core upgrade options (beyond a proprietary SSD design), and an all-in-one display frame. And yet it had a still-beautiful Retina display, lots of ports, a MagSafe connector—all the good stuff.

All of this is to say: Vintage is just a label, and your 2013 or 2014 MacBook can still be a good and useful computer. You can’t add RAM to your 2014 Pro, but you can swap out the battery (if you set aside the time), replace a noisy fan, or even upgrade the storage drive. On a 2013 or 2014 Air, battery swaps are simple—I did one 2013 MacBook Air battery swap on a brewery table in about 20 minutes, being cautious about lost screws. You can also change out the storage, trackpad, and most other things that might annoy you if they go bust.