A new teardown of the Apple AirPods reveals a messy design that will give even the most tech-savvy users a headache when it comes to repairs.
If you haven’t heard of iFixit, it’s basically a team of tinkerers that regularly crack open gadgets to find out how repairable your favourite technology is. This week, the team managed to get their hands on a pair of Apple AirPods, the controversial wireless earbuds Apple just started selling – and the results weren’t pretty.
When iFixit does a teardown, it assigns the gadget a score out of 10, with 10 being the easiest to repair, and zero being a complete nightmare. Unfortunately, the Apple AirPods scored zero, meaning it’s basically impossible to repair them on your own. One of the main problems iFixit encountered was the excessive use of glue:
“Accessing any case component is impossible without destroying the outer casing,” writes iFixit. “Glue is the only external fastener used in the case or earbuds.”
The report continued: “If jamming complex components into a small form factor and sealing it with a copious amount of glue were a game, Apple would be winning.”
It went on to describe the earbud as a “hot mess of cables and adhesive”, adding that the teardown required “surgical precision”, including the use of an actual scalpel.
Apple first announced the AirPods on September 7, alongside the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. The headphones were seen as controversial at the time, largely owing to the high price tag (£159) and weird design. There was also concern that Apple had removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, which was seen by cynics as a ploy to boost sales of the Bluetooth-powered AirPods – they don’t need a 3.5mm jack to connect, after all.
At the announcement, Apple said it planned to start selling the headphones in October, but they ended up being delayed until December 13 – with a shipping date of December 19. But just one day later, the AirPods shipping time had been delayed to four weeks. That’s why some pairs of AirPods are already selling for as much as £500 on eBay.
We’ve asked Apple for comment on the iFixit teardown, and will update this article with any response.