This MacBook feature means thousands of them will go to waste

M1 MacBook Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Life is getting harder for the secondhand MacBook industry.

As reported by Vice, Apple's T2 security chip is causing problems for secondhand sellers trying to create a market for used MacBooks. According to John Bumstead, a MacBook refurbisher and owner of the RDKL INC repair store, recent MacBooks worth as much as $3000 are having to be scrapped due to Apple's Activation Lock feature.

Bumstead took to Twitter to point out the issue, joking "how many of you out there would like a 2-year-old M1 MacBook? Well, too bad, because your local recycler just took out all the Activation Locked logic boards and ground them up into carcinogenic dust." 

Apple's T2 security chip is to blame

Apple's upgrades like Activation Lock and the T2 security chip are great for privacy and security but, as Bumstead points out, a really tough issue for secondhand sellers. With those features enabled, it makes it effectively impossible for anyone but the device owner to unlock it.

With no ethical workaround, a secondhand device with a T2 chip and Activation Lock enabled is realistically a big paperweight.

Bumstead offered some solutions to the issue, saying that “when we come upon a locked machine that was legally acquired, we should be able to log into our Apple account, enter the serial and any given information, then click a button and submit the machine to Apple for unlocking,” he said. “Then Apple could explore its records, query the original owner if it wants, but then at the end of the day if there are no red flags and the original owner does not protest within 30 days, the device should be auto-unlocked."

As Apple continues to launch more and more privacy-focused features for its devices, it's tough to see a case where the company would allow such an option for secondhand sellers. I can see Tim Cook calling it privacy cancer already.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.