In the last week, we brought here the dismantling of AirPods Pro made by iFixit and the proof that, like its cheaper brothers, the new Apple headphones are also basically “Disposable” – that is, eventually their diminutive battery will stop holding charge and you will have to pay a small exorbitant fee to replace them or simply give up the process and buy new headphones.
Because today the iFixit published a new article still addressing the issue and raising a question: theoretically, AirPods Pro could be more repairable – their structure, unlike their cheaper siblings, is prone to a more repair-friendly design. Why does Apple prefer to keep the headphones almost inaccessible, then?
The publication notes that AirPods Pro have much more common batteries than traditional AirPods, similar to circular watch batteries. The components are at the top of the headphones, next to the drivers audio, while the most “valuable” parts of the set (processor, microphones, antennas, sensors) are housed in the “leg” of the devices.
It would not be impossible for Apple, therefore, to create a design in which these two parts separated (even if only with the help of special tools, to avoid unwanted opening or the like) and it was possible to keep the AirPods “brain” Pro intact while replacing the battery or a faulty audio component of the headphones.
However, we know that this is not how the band plays: the opening of the accessories is arduous and basically destroy the headphones in the process; even if you get access to the inside of them, all their components are glued or welded and it is impossible to replace a part (or even the battery, which is the component that will inevitably degrade over time) loose in the tangle of circuits and glue .
Before it is said that no one should be demanding repairability in such tiny components, it is worth remembering that yes, this is possible: Galaxy Buds, for example, can have their batteries replaced without the headphones being completely destroyed; iFixit itself has a guide to the process, and while we’re not talking about the simplest job in the world, any technical assistance (authorized or not) or more advanced user can do it with some dedication time – and have headphones working like new and “basically intact” at the end of the story.
Ultimately, the AirPods’ “disposability” poses two problems: in addition to turning them into products with a short shelf life (countless reports indicate significant loss of capacity with just a year and a half or two of regular use), it creates a huge amount of dead headphones that will only be partially recycled.
It is true that Apple tries to mitigate these two problems – the first with the AirPods exchange program, and the second with a recycling scheme set up with its suppliers (and indeed trunk, if you want my opinion). But she could be doing a lot more.