Saturday, May 15, 2021
Technology

AirPods Max teardown makes Sony and Bose headphones look ‘like toys’ – Circuit Breaker

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iFixit’s long in the making AirPods Max teardown is finally complete, giving an exhaustive look at the internals of Apple’s debut over-ear headphones and an idea of how easy they are to repair. iFixit even went as far as to teardown Sony’s WH-1000XM4 and Bose’s NC 700 headphones for comparison. Until now, iFixit has refused to grant Apple a single repairability point for any of its AirPods, but the AirPods Max buck the trend with a surprisingly high score of six out of ten.

Why so high? Well, for starters, its ear cushions attach via magnets, making them easy to swap and replace when they inevitably get worn out. There are also plenty of internal components held together with screws rather than messy glue, which should make it easy for would-be repairers to swap them out if they break.

The inside of what iFixit calls “perhaps the most elaborate part” of the headphones.
Image: iFixit

Unfortunately, there’s some adhesive in the way of repairs.
Image: iFixit

iFixit is particularly fond of the headband hinge mechanism found between the band and the ear cups, which it notes can be detached “with just a SIM card removal tool or paperclip, without even opening the ear cup.” It calls this “perhaps the most elaborate part of the AirPods Max” and notes that it’s “both intricate and overbuilt, and might make the AirPods Max’s price tag a little easier to swallow.”

The headphones aren’t perfectly repairable by any means. Opening the AirPods Max involves dealing with some messy adhesive, and while Apple has done a good job at using screws to hold together their internal components, iFixit points out that it uses a bewilderingly different array for the job, meaning you’ll have to be well equipped with screwdriver heads to attempt a repair.

The AirPods Max (center) versus headphones from Sony (left) and Bose (right).
Image: iFixit

Compared to other popular over-ear headphones, however, the AirPods Max fair well. As part of its deep dive into Apple’s headphones, iFixit also tore down the cheaper Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose NC 700, which are among our favorite noise-canceling headphones. But it notes that compared to the “obsessive craftsmanship” of Apple’s headphones, they end up looking “like toys by comparison.”

Considering their eye-watering $550 price tag, it’s reassuring to see that the AirPods Max won’t be a complete nightmare to repair when their batteries and other components start failing in a couple of year’s time. Now, Apple just needs to find a way to bring this same repairability to its ludicrously popular true wireless AirPods.

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