These are the thoughts that crossed my mind at yesterday’s Framework event – where the company known for its easily upgradeable laptops announced new chips and a new battery, with longer lifespan. “Battery life has always been the biggest negative of Framework laptops,” said CEO Nirav Patel, explaining one reason I’ve never admired the company’s laptops. This morning, with no reason to hesitate alone, it was time to deposit $100 for my very own Framework 13 Notebook.
“My old Dell XPS 15 runs slow. The battery drains easily. Anyway, it’s too heavy to carry. Now that I have to go out in public again, I need a new work machine.
But I didn’t, because the Framework won’t sell me this battery unless I buy more components than I need.
So I emailed the CEO of Framework. I didn’t expect him to reply. But he did, and I would never have guessed that there were so many different logistical reasons behind this decision.
You see, while Framework Laptop 13 starts at $1,049 or $849 for a barebones set, this model only comes with an older 55Wh battery along with a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 chip. 61 Wh inside, the Framework makes you spend at least $320 more for a Core i7 or Ryzen 7 instead. Or, I can also buy an extra 61 Wh battery to swap in the machine for $69 and turn the battery pack 55 Wh into e-waste. I cannot understand it. It’s a company that prides itself on modularity, the company told me yesterday that they’re trying to reduce e-waste to the point where they’re experimenting with external enclosures for different components so that they can’t sit still. Apparently they have these batteries on the shelf to be ordered separately – why can’t I pay the difference?
As a consumer, this doesn’t make me very happy: I’m still not willing to pay $320 more for a processor I don’t need, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying $69 for the battery. new and then have to learn what to do with additional batteries.
But at least I understand the decision. Regardless of which SKU you buy, the company glues the battery and nearly every other component to the chassis at the factory and does so in a limited number of ways for efficiency reasons. To supply me with the machine I want to buy, the 40-person company will have to either change the way it assembles the laptop or swap out the batteries after the fact – and the offers don’t seem to match the way it is currently.