I have never purchased a set of in-ear earphones with the expectation that if something inside those tiny earbuds fail, I'll be able to rip them open and fix the problem. They are just too small for that sort of thing. Nevertheless, in case anyone is wondering, Apple's new AirPods 2 earbuds are not designed in a way that fosters do-it-yourself (DIY) repair.
Let's all feign surprise, shall we? In addition to being a set of earbuds, this is Apple we are talking about, so that is a double whammy against easy repair. I can't really throw too much shade at Apple on this one, though, because of the product category. It would be different if we were talking about big and bulky headphones, but we're not.
In any event, the teardown specialists at iFixIt ripped into Apple's second-generation AirPods and came to a predictable conclusion. "AirPods are not designed to be serviced," the teardown gurus stated.
To be fair, it's not a completely pointless endeavor to tear into a set of AirPods to see what the DIY repair landscape is like. These are wireless gadgets, after all, with built-in batteries. They are also pricey—$159 for the AirPods with the standard case, or $199 with the new wireless charging case. It's gut-wrenching to think that once the batteries goes kaput, these essentially become disposable gadgets.
Repairing earbuds is also not unprecedented. In a teardown analysis of Samsung's Galaxy Buds, iFixIt found that disassembly was not all that difficult, and can be accomplished with common prying tools and a screwdriver. Importantly, the coin-cell batteries are relatively easy to find. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the AirPods 2.
"Sealed-in batteries limit the AirPods' lifespan, making them a consumable/disposable item," the teardown specialists said.
That is something to keep in mind when purchasing any wireless gadget. In this case, since DIY repair is pretty much out of the question, you are looking at forking over $49 for Apple to replace the battery in a single AirPod, or $69 if past the warranty. Times those numbers by two, if the batteries in both AirPods are dead. Oomph!
Getting the larger battery out of the wireless charging case is a bit more doable, but still difficult. In the end, iFixIt gave the AirPods 2 a big, fat zero Repairability Score, on a scale of 0-10. Ouch!
Images Courtesy of iFixIt