IFixIt says the reason they focus on the repairability of hardware is because it’s good for consumers and good for the environment. Usually, being repairable goes hand in hand with being more recyclable. The easier it is to untangle the parts, the easier the device is to recycle. When products are glued shut and soldered together, like the AirPods, it costs recyclers more than they can earn from recovered materials. If AirPods are Apple’s new standard earbud, they’ll sell hundreds of millions of them. That’s millions of AirPods that are, essentially, disposable.
iFixIt’s AirPods teardown, where the techs from iFixIt pull hardware apart to look into how easy it is to repair and recycle gives Apple’s AirPods a score of 0 out of 10.
Here’s what they say
- A set of AirPods contains three batteries, one in the case and one in each earpiece. The earpiece battery is a 93 milliwatt hour battery, which is about 1% of the charge capacity in an iPhone 7. The battery in the case weighs in at 1.52 Wh—about 16 times the power capacity of the earpiece batteries.
- Our X-ray imagery (provided by Creative Electron) shows quality issues in the AirPod case’s processor. Excessive empty spaces in the solder, known as voiding, could be evidence of low quality standards, or a rushed product release. Could issues with the AirPod case be what delayed release?
- Accessing any case component is impossible without destroying the outer casing.
- Glue is the only external fastener used in the case or earbuds.
- Accessing any case component is impossible without destroying the outer casing, earning the AirPods a nigh-unprecedented 0/10 on our repairability scale.