One thing that puzzles me is the choice Framework went with the battery in their laptops. Most good laptops of the past have this one thing easily removable from the bottom/outside of the laptop, with some even having multiple battery locations to swap one at a time for 100% uptime. It fact, the Dell laptop I am typing this on right now has a lock slider on the bottom that releases the battery cover and it can be pulled right out.
So my question is, with all the design around repairability put into the laptop where it was not in the past, why did they go slightly the opposite direction with the battery, making it slightly more steps/less easy to replace compared to “normal” laptops?
I don’t understand how you came the conclusion that it’s more steps to replace the battery. All modern, consumer laptops do not have easily removable batteries. That feature is now usually reserved for industrial laptops.
The Framework laptop opens from the top yes however, it’s really easy to do. You only have 5 screws, you don’t have to pry and potentially break plastic clips to open it, there are no hidden screws, and the battery is not held in by glue. If you’re concerned about the top cover cable, A) it’s really easy to remove and put back in and B) the cable is long enough so that if you don’t want to remove it, you don’t have to.
One aspect of this is simply design choice, most of the modern laptops I see with easily externally removable / swappable batteries are thicker toughbooks and the like where continuous uptime is a need in field applications and a thicker, more durable frame is a benefit. As laptops have moved toward thin-and-light designs easily swappable batteries have fallen out of favor compared to thinner form factors. I think Framework’s method is a reasonable compromise personally.
A battery that simply clips into a compartment from the outside will normally have to have a protective case around the battery as well as a “slot” or compartment to clip into. This can increase the size and bulk of components, or at the very least, introduce other design constraints that may not have allowed Framework to accomplish all the things they wanted to achieve. I would venture to say that most “normal” laptops of the last 5-10 years have had built-in batteries that are difficult to replace. Built-in batteries have definitely become more common lately. I’m sure there are still exceptions, but external, removable batteries are no longer the norm.
The choice by Framework could also be partly to do with shipping restrictions. There are different regulations around batteries that are “installed” in a device, vs. separate. It’s possible that is at least a partial factor in the design.
For what it’s worth, I can remove and replace the battery in my Framework in under five minutes. No prying, no clips to break, no adhesive. I’m not concerned about hot swap or quickly swapping batteries in and out. I’m more concerned with the ability to replace the battery in a few years if it starts to fail, and the Framework makes that very easy. So while it may not be quite as simple to swap out as the laptops of old where they all simply clipped into the back or bottom, it still fits squarely within their intent to make a repairable, upgradable laptop.
A note that I haven’t seen others talk about here is also the EOL for these batteries. With the hot-swappable batteries on past laptops, it required encasing the battery in a plastic shell to protect the battery when it was outside the laptop, whereas the Framework battery design negates that extra plastic, so that when these batteries are eventually (hopefully) recycled, they do not require trashing a plastic shell that will likely become plastic waste. While this does mean that they are not hot-swappable, the tradeoff is that you still can replace the battery with a new one even if it takes a little more time and effort to do so. Now, they could have made a metal shell for the battery, but that would have increased bulk, and more metal parts probably would have increased costs of new laptops and new batteries (which could discourage users from replacing the battery to continue using the laptop).