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back to article Retina MacBook Pro nukes Apple's green credentials

The tightly packed new Apple MacBook Pro prevents the laptop from meeting requirements laid down by eco-friendly technology catalogue EPEAT. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) announced on Monday that the shiny Retina-display lap warmer is "difficult to disassemble for upgrades, repairs, and recycling …

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Anonymous Coward

So basically if you make a product a little harder to disassemble that makes it an un-green product?

Sounds rather stupid to me, so long as you can get it apart safely then who cares? The important thing is that you don't use too many nasty things to make it.

Cars have been gradually becoming less green by them having vastly more electronics plus they're a lot harder to work on yet nobody is attacking car makers about that? Why not?

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read article?

Did you read the whole article? it says that experienced techies weren't able to remove the battery without puncturing it. That means it cannot "be gotten apart safely".

Green is not only about assembly and disposal it's also about how easy it is to maintain. Apple products are designed to last till 1 day after the warranty and be as un-user serviceable as possible.

Hence the big black mark.

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>Sounds rather stupid to me, so long as you can get it apart safely then who cares?

Er, you need to be able to take it apart safely and economically, otherwise people won't bother.

Regarding your point about cars, many of the changes made to them are in response to ever-changing emissions legislation- that, and High-Pressure diesels don't like untaxed vegetable oil. The faulty logic behind the UK's 'scrappage scheme' resulted in perfectly serviceable and fairly economical cars being destroyed- but the motive was probably more to do with creating and sustaining jobs.

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You can't get it apart safely - you end up with battery goo all over the place. That means when the battery goes, likely to be the first thing to go on it, you can't replace the battery, you have to get a new computer.

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Stop

Yes you can replace the battery

Take it to an Apple store (or post it to them if there isnt one local) and ask for one to be fitted. $200 IIRC, and they recycle the old one for you.

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Re: Yes you can replace the battery

no "you" can't replace the battery. Apple techs can for a lump sum.

It's not the same thing.

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Re: Yes you can replace the battery

Except by the time you actually need to replace the battery, it will be a "vintage" machine that is no longer supported by Apple stores.

And that's if you are willing to pay 200 USD for a new battery in the first place.

Honestly there is no way that non-upgradeability is anything but a bad thing. It will prevent some of these models having their useful life extended down the line, which is bad for the owner even if you don't give a damn about the environment.

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Re: read article?

That's a poor measure of how green something is. It's not very friendly to people wanting to replace their own battery but Apple is more than happy to do it for you and they'll also recycle your old mac possibly resulting in a gift card in exchange based on however they determine if it's of any value.

I would expect them to investigate the whole process and measure actual "green" credentials rather than basing it on whether you can personally replace the battery which may or may not be green. If Apple has to repalce it then it will be taken care of properly. If I can replace it then it may go straight into the bin. The bin man isn't going to sift through my rubbish.

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Re: Yes you can replace the battery

But if apple has to replace it then it's guaranteed to be taken care of appropriately. Where as your average person can just dump it in the bin which I suspect is more likely to happen.

That or when it's old give them the whole system to recycle and you may get a gift card back. I assume the "reward" is determined by how old it is though. But it's definitely better than the sweet F.A. you get from Dell for dumping your computer off on someone else as part of their recycling scheme.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes you can replace the battery

There is a whole load of stuff you could not replace on your car - either would invalidate warranties, your insurance, type approval etc.

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Meh

Ha ha ha...so many "disagrees" which basically translates to "YES!! YES THEY ARE GODS AND WE WILL BLINDLY WORSHIP!"

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@AC

Reduce > Reuse > Recycle.

That's the proper 'green' motto.

Reduce means to avoid waste. You could argue that reducing size reduces waste materials, but that is not always true, especially when you realize that that reduction then limits the reuse of the goods: You can not extend their usable life by replacing or upgrading components. And recycling has become harder in the process, too. This is all down to the 'throw away society' we have been forced into: Corporations make money by selling new their latest product, so they do not want you to hang on to that perfectly serviceable older model you have, and so they will find ways to limit the usable life of their products.

As to cars: Sorry, but you've got that back to front. Cars have been improving because people campaigned. Modern cars (other than electric) are 85%+ recyclable, and they are designed with recycling in mind. This means they're using materials that can be recycled, rather than those that have to go to land fill. They have also been finding ways to recycle more materials, all to improve the 'green' qualification of the motor car. Plus, the manufacture and disposal (cradle to grave) of a car's life is included, and that's been cleaned up a lot over the years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes you can replace the battery

"There is a whole load of stuff you could not replace on your car - either would invalidate warranties, your insurance, type approval etc."

Erm... unless you're replacing with go-fast parts, changing spark plugs, gearboxes, engines et al in no way invalidates insurance. Warranty: Sure... but I've never been fool enough to waste money on a car new enough to have one of those things (not that they are worth the paper that they are written on, of course).

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@Mike2R - Vintage = not supported?

You need to check your facts better. Apple still stock 2007 and earlier batteries. At an equivalent age a new battery would take you through to 8 or more years old. How long do you expect to keep using a laptop?

The point I was answering was the claim that dead battery = new laptop, this is patently untrue.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh come on

So throwing a few thousand of these away is going to destroy the planet? Really?

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Anonymous Coward

@Obviously

Grow up. Commenting that someone is "really gay for Apple" is not acceptable, it's casual homophobia, not some sort of post-modern ironic witty comment.

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Actually, car makers have been investing vast sums of money in ensuring their cars are more easily recyclable, ever since they have become responsible for its end of life handling back in 2007 to quote from an article I found: "The End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) directive (2000/53/EC) applies to cars, vans and some three wheeled vehicles, and means that drivers in the EU can now have their old vehicles disposed of for free. Similar legislation already exists for cars built since 2002, but from the start of January 2007 all cars can now be returned to their car maker for free recycling"

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Re: @Mike2R - Vintage = not supported?

8 Years? The battery only lasted about 2 1/2 years on my last lappy, which I used for about 7 years.

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Re: @Steve Todd - Vintage = not supported?

Check out this page:

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1752

Over 5 years is "vintage", Apple has "discontinued hardware service" on them (except in California who apparently told them to go stuff it). Over 7 years is "obsolete" - nothing at all and even service centres can't get parts.

So if you have to have an Apple supplied part installed by an Apple tech... I deal with a LOT of Mac users, and I know that many of them will find a use for machines of that age and older. Hell I've SOLD machines older than that, and to people who knew exactly what they were buying. Maybe Apple will make an exception for this laptop, but if you'd bet on it then maybe we can talk about this bridge I have for sale :)

Believe me I'm not a Mac hater, I've worked closely with Apple hardware and Apple users for over 10 years, and as Samuel Vimes might say, I've earned the right to criticise them. And there are rather too many incidents of upgradeability being restricted, or the aligning of various Apple polices force a machine into uselessness before the user is finished with it, for me to believe it is entirely accidental. I'm sure they don't go crying all the way to the bank when a customer buys a new machine earlier than planned...

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Re: read article?

"and they'll also recycle your old mac" - actually EU legislation requires all manufacturers of electronic products to take back their products and recycle them AFAIK, so hardly a green credential for Apple, or anyone else for that matter. If you just bin it you could get fined for incorrect disposal of hazardous waste (any laptop battery) which would cost you up to £5000.

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Re: Yes you can replace the battery

Soo...$200 for a battery and fitting when I'm perfectly capable of getting one from a third party for a fraction of that price and fitting it myself (or would be if the machine was easily serviceable).

Sounds more like a way to drum up more money from your customers to me.

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Re: Yes you can replace the battery

Ignoring of course, all the crappy aftermarket batteries people have used for various electronics like phones and laptops, only to have them explode? And then who invariably gets the heat/lawsuits? The mfg of the product itself, that's who. Not the battery maker, the store selling knock-off batteries, or the dumbass that decided to save a few bucks by buying the cheapest thing they could find.

While I don't necessarily agree with Apple's policy, I have difficulty faulting them on it. I suspect the only reason other manufacturers haven't done the same is because the majority of their business comes from corporations who insist on products with replaceable components.

Since Apple doesn't give a damn about corporate customers, they have the flexability to do what they want. And this is just another example of protecting stupid people from themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: read article?

What are you all talking about? Everybody knows that Apple users sell their old Apple equipment on Ebay for 100% of their original purchase price. Or at least that seems to be what they all claim on these forums.

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Re: @Obviously

So using gay now is homophobic? Yet now the homo-sexuals want to nick and use the word marriage. F.off.

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Anonymous Coward

EPEAT just like ISO standards is a self perpetuating industry, is work for the sake of work, jobs for the sake of jobs. These organisations produce nothing except a certificate to show you are complying. Every year they add more on to the burden, more cost to businesses who feel they have to comply.

Its self perpetuation, and now Apple have stuck two fingers at them. The whole Eco standards industry behind EPEAT should worry, when one drops out so could the others. If they all do, the standard becomes meaningless and all the little people working in that industry become nobodies.

Well don Apple, not for being who you are, but for making a stand against these quango organisations who peddle nothing but crap, meaningless crap at that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Obviously

@Arfur Smiff: "...So using gay now is homophobic? Yet now the homo-sexuals want to nick and use the word marriage. F.off..."

Yes, using the word "gay" as an insult is homophobic. Suggesting that doing something which is bad or undesired "is gay" is homophobic.

The union of two things is a marriage, how would this be stealing the word from "the straights"?

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Re: Yes you can replace the battery

"Soo...$200 for a battery and fitting when I'm perfectly capable of getting one from a third party for a fraction of that price and fitting it myself (or would be if the machine was easily serviceable)"

Which it isn't, so you can't do it yourself. So your argument makes no sense. I can't upgrade the RAM or flash storage in an Android phone either, but nobody seems to be whining about that.

Where, exactly, is it engraved in stone that computer MUST have user-serviceable parts inside? They're all consumer electronics now. The days when computers were subject to the likes of geeks and inveterate tinkerers are long over; those people are a tiny, tiny fraction of the market. And they're welcome to just go buy a PC and shove some flavour of Linux or BSD on it.

Also, the original Wired article (written by an iFixit guy, so hardly unbiased) repeats the myth that the batteries in Apple's laptops are only good for 300 cycles. That hasn't been the case since the very first MacBook Air: the one in my 2010 MacBook Pro is rated for one thousand cycles and, at this rate, will last me another ten years yet. (Remember, that "1000 cycles" figure is when the battery can only hold 80% of its original maximum capacity. It'll still work for some time after that number of cycles has passed.)

And, as others have pointed out, Apple are legally obliged to recycle all their products themselves, for free, thanks to EU legislation. (They're also obliged to offer a minimum 2-year warranty throughout the EU, no matter what the likes of PC World in the UK believe. And, yes, this applies in the UK too. So I doubt very much that they're deliberately fitting their new computers and devices with batteries that have any chance of expiring with that period—or even the three years of their AppleCare warranty, which they sell for peanuts to educational purchases such as students.)

As for the industrial-strength glue, I have one word for you: industrial-strength solvents. When you're recycling an old, dead, computer, you're not that fussed about being gentle with it.

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Re: @Mike2R - Vintage = not supported?

How long would anyone expect to keep using a laptop (or any other computer)? As long as it lasts. I've had to replace a couple of laptop batteries already; they can't be recharged indefinitely. HDD's too have a finite life (better, though IIUC, than current SSD's), which is the reason for backup and restore.

The biggest issue I see with Apple-only disassembly is that it does not meet the EU recycling mandate in WEEE. But perhaps the EU accept people having to pay for that.

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FAIL

Wrong.

The rating is based on the entire life of the product. If it can't be disassembled then it can't be recycled. Dumping a laptop in a landfill because you can't seperate the battery from the frame makes it pretty damn un-"green".

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We have yet to hear back from Cupertino.

Heh who didn't see that one coming.

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Facepalm

Dichotomy, eh?

The Reg shows almost palpable desperation to publish any dubious climate change-denying or anti-green article it possibly can nowadays. But of course it loves getting digs in at Apple at every opportunity. So this must have presented a real dichotomy - until it was solved by the tired old method of putting the word "hippies" in the sub-headline - yet again. So that's alright then.

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Re: Dichotomy, eh?

Not really. The green issue is one thing.

But from the perspective of informing the technology consumer there is a fairly obvious point. that if your battery wears out in two years time, which it will, you wont be able to just buy a new one and pop it in.

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@nigel15 - You can't "pop in" batteries anyway

The batteries aren't designed to be replaceable whether they're glued in or not, so you can't "just buy a new one and pop it in" - it's far harder than that, whatever Apple product you're using.

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Re: Dichotomy, eh?

@nigel 15: "... if your battery wears out in two years time, which it will, you wont be able to just buy a new one and pop it in."

Two years? The battery in my 2006 macbook is still going strong. Hardly 'two years'.

However, the batteries of various 'pc' (I know, I know) laptops *have* tended to become paperweights in about two years... YMMV of course.

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Re: Dichotomy, eh?

The batteries that wear the most are the ones that are constantly plugged in. If you charge and then use your battery off charge it is likely to last much longer. Btw I have a 5 year old laptop whos battery is still good for 2 hours (made by HP) and only costs £50 to replace, which is a job I can do by myself in 2 minutes. Rather than paying £200 for the pleasure of going to an Apple store and having an Apple 'Genius' do it for me. Whilst trying to sell me their latest and greatest kit of course. Sounds like fun.

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Re: Dichotomy, eh?

Hmm. My 2006 Macbook is on its 3rd set of batteries now I believe, with the first set no longer holding any charge after 18 months. Then again, as Apple only support current and one previous version of the OS (now released annually), and since the Core Duo CPU is not supported on anything later than 10.6, means that when 10.8 comes out this month, it likely will not receive any security fixes and so I will be expected to buy a new one. Or just install Windows or Linux on it, as a 2Ghz dual core CPU is still perfectly adequate.

That's the thing with Apple - forced obsolescence. 10.8 is now dropping support for other models so they probably only have a year before they become unsupported. My < 2 year old first gen iPad won't take IOS6 (and to be honest, before the 5.1 update, IOS5 crippled it as it was intended for the newer devices with more RAM, meaning that even a little amount of web browsing would run the risk of experiencing random 'out of memory' browser crashes - funny, I thought Apple said that Flash was responsible for most browser and OS crashes yet Safari on IOS5.0 would crash repeatedly without it). Yes, it still works, but won't get any new features or updates.

OK, my Macbook is 6 years old, it probably is due for replacing. But if it still works and still has enough resources to function, why should I be expected to throw it away and get a new one if I want to keep up to date with security fixes? That's hardly a green approach. Microsoft were required to support and provide updates to XP for about 13 years and I believe I read have a policy now of releasing security fixes for 2 years beyond the release of the second subsequent version, or a minimum of 10 years (or something like that) on business products.

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Re: Dichotomy, eh?

@SteveK

My < 2 year old first gen iPad won't take IOS6 (and to be honest, before the 5.1 update, IOS5 crippled it as it was intended for the newer devices with more RAM

Massive design FAIL by crApple then. My last lappy came with 512K ram, I replaced it with 2GB of RAM, all I needed to do that was a small Philips head screwdriver.

I've also got two batteries for my mini-disk player and I don't even need a screwdriver to change them.

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Re: Dichotomy, eh?

"Massive design FAIL by crApple then. My last lappy came with 512K ram,..."

Massive reading comprehension fail by you, then. SteveK was referring to the Mk. 1 iPad. You know: the one everyone was saying would never catch on and wouldn't sell and which was going to flop.

Some "design fail".

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This machine will self destruct in 2 years!

Bunch of clever b******s aren't they.

Solder the memory so if it fails $300 or so Apple profit.

Solder the SSD so if it fails $600 or so Apple profit.

Glue the whole battery so it is too dangerous to handle when it fails so $200 profit to Apple.

This item is worse than a $10 tranny which goes straight into the garbage truck when it goes wrong.

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Re: This machine will self destruct in 2 years!

AFAIK they aren't soldering in the SSD module (yet) - just using a totally non-standard connector type.

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Stop

Where on earth are you getting your numbers from?

RAM failure? Modern RAM is such dreadfully unreliable stuff isn't it. Why, I've heard that some people can go weeks without it exploding in a shower of sparks. Me, I've not had a RAM failure in the last 10 years. It's a non mechanical part you expect to last well over 5 years.

SSD? Again non mechanical, but with a known ware rate. If you dont thrash the device 27/7 then it shouldn't be an issue though. It's a socketed component (3rd parties will have the connector cloned long before you need one).

Battery? OK, this is the most likely part to need replacing. The cost of a 3rd party, custom formed 95Whr isn't going to be dramatically less than Apples battery replacement charge, plus they recycle the old one.

If you're worried about any of the above then Apple offer to insure repair costs for you for 3 years. You get the first year covered for free.

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FAIL

Re: Where on earth are you getting your numbers from?

"It's a non mechanical part"

Our survey says

WRONG

of course it's a mechanical part, and as such it is subject to the laws of thermodynamics, and will eventually fail. admittedly not very often, but it will happen.

puts me in mind of listening to my dad (a tv repair man in the good ol days when such things were worth repairing) mocking a lecturer who explained that with these newfangled transistors - there are no moving parts, and the thermal cycling is so low that they will _never_ fail in service. he used to repeat this every time he replaced a transistor, which was 1/2 dozen times a day for the next 40 years or so.

it's easy to forget that these amazing digital whizzes we all live with are at the end of the day just electronics, and subject to ohm, coulomb, kirchoff and even thevenin-norton and we are kinda stuck with that until the di-lithium matrix is perfected

<the author reserves the right to suspend all prior statements with regard to graphene, as fuck knows what boffins will be able to do with that next week>

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Re: Where on earth are you getting your numbers from?

SSDs do not have moving parts and are more reliable than spinning rust. They do have a shortish life time, due to limited write cycles.

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Re: Where on earth are you getting your numbers from?

ONCE AGAIN OUR SURVEY SAYS......

i think youll find the electrons in the SSDs move.

<read previous post - it STILL applies, which was kinda the point!>

QED

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Re: Where on earth are you getting your numbers from?

I did the read the previous post, it was full of bullshit. Mechanical devices with moving parts fail quicker than non mechanical devices without moving parts. Just because your dear old dad soldered on blown transistors doesn't make this less true.

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Re: Where on earth are you getting your numbers from?

Maybe your old man is a con man like many reapir men and builders?

I've never had ram fail on my including an old win 3.11 machine from '94 which was hit by lightning twice requiring the modem to be replaced twice and the numerous other power outtages it has suffered and worse yet it was a packard bell. My old atari computer still runs too.

You have to either treat your stuff like shit or be really unlucky to get ram that fails from my experience.

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Re: Where on earth are you getting your numbers from?

I've had RAM fail twice on me, once a long time ago and once quite recently, happily replaced under warranty. Your survey of one doesn't prove anything.

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Re: Where on earth are you getting your numbers from?

@Steve Todd

If you're worried about any of the above then Apple offer to insure repair costs for you for 3 years. You get the first year covered for free.

WWOOooooowwwww!!!!!!, the first year covered for free. You must be so totally in awe of the generosity of the fruity firm, aren't you so lucky to bask in the glow of such magnificent philanthropic behaviour, you must think you are extremely lucky.

On the other hand, my new android tablet is covered by EU Directive 1999/44/EC. issued in May 1999 from the European Parliament, the directive stipulates that, by 1st January 2002, all member states must have altered their legislation to comply with new consumer laws that ensure that all new consumer goods carry at least a two-year warranty and used consumer goods have a minimum of a one-year warranty.

So, you are either a 'merkin, or crApple sold you a second hand iProduct, I mean crApple wouldn't break the law would they, they respect the law so much, especially when they can use the law to stop other manufacturers selling their product.

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Stop

@naughtyhorse - it seems that you know rather less about electronics

than your father did, and his knowledge was less than perfect. A mechanical part requires movement to have an effect. As such it is subject to friction, mechanical wear etc. and has a limited number of operational cycles because of this. Old fashioned mechanical relays are rated for up to 1,000,000 cycles for example, which sounds great until you realise that if a modern CPU had transistors that were only that reliable it would fail after 1/10,000th of a second.

A solid state part doesn't need any mechanical movement to work. Thermal effects will have an effect on lifespan (and I didn't claim that the parts last forever) but aren't the only failure mode, and for a mobile class device are quite low. Generally once a solid state device has got past its first few months of life (when it's under warranty anyway) failure rates drop off to very low values and you can expect them to last beyond the useful life of the device it is part of (manufacturers quote reliability in terms of millions of hours MTBF).

SSDs however have basically unlimited read endurance (millions of hours MTBF) but limited write endurance due to the way that pages are erased and then written. They are however socketed so they are replaceable.

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