AirPods tear­down

Ian Paul looks at the magic and glue that make Ap­ple’s wire­less ear­phones work

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Some­times it’s just not worth it to peek be­hind the cur­tain and find out how the magic hap­pens. That’s the feel­ing you get from iFixit after the tear­down champs took on their lat­est chal­lenge: Ap­ple’s AirPods.

These tiny wear­ables pack a lot of power into a small space. They’ve got Bluetooth, beam­form­ing mi­cro­phones, op­ti­cal sen­sors, a mo­tion ac­celerom­e­ter, a 93mW bat­tery (we’ll get to that), and speak­ers. It’s no sur­prise there’s lit­tle room among all those com­po­nents for grace and an easy en­try point.

In fact, the AirPods ap­pear to be equal parts tech­nol­ogy and glue. Or as iFixit puts it: “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.”

The im­pact on you at home: The re­al­ity is that if you break ei­ther of these lit­tle dan­gly head­phones, you won’t be re­pair­ing them. iFixit gave the head­phones a re­pairabil­ity score of 0 out of 10. That’s not re­ally a huge sur­prise though, is it? How many types of wired ear­buds are re­pairable save for per­haps snap­ping them back to­gether if they come un­done? Not many. The AirPods are ex­pen­sive ear­buds, but they’re still ear­buds.

That means if you break an AirPod you’ll be shelling out at least £65 to re­place it. To sum up: AirPods may not fall out of your ears in most sit­u­a­tions, but you’ll still want to be care­ful not to lose or dam­age them.

De­spite wag­ing war with ad­he­sive, iFixit did find some in­ter­est­ing tech­ni­cal points in­side the AirPods. For starters, the bat­tery is tiny. It’s not Ap­ple Pen­cil tiny, but it’s still a pretty small power pack. That’s not such a big deal, how­ever, as those 93mW still give you five hours or more of mu­sic play­back.

The iFixit tear­down also found a tech­ni­cal rea­son as to why the AirPods look more or less like reg­u­lar Ap­ple ear­buds with the wires cut off. That boom-like ex­ten­sion is there not only to pro­vide bal­ance, but as a home for an an­tenna in or­der to de­liver bet­ter re­cep­tion.

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