AirPods Pro use custom silicone ear-tip, basically non-repairable

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited December 2019
As it does with every Apple product launch, iFixit has completed its tear-down of the AirPods Pro, and have found that it is still essentially not user repairable at all.

AirPods Pro initial disassembly, photo courtesy iFixit
AirPods Pro initial disassembly, photo courtesy iFixit


The silicone ear inserts on the AirPods Pro use a custom attach point, meaning that ear inserts from other devices cannot easily be used on the AirPods Pro. However, Apple's "fancy engineering" provides a larger opening for sound than is normally seen in an earbud, according to iFixit's teardown.

Apple's engineering choices including solder and glue are intended to keep the product as small and as light as possible. However, in an interesting design choice, the iPods Pro earpieces use a cell-style rechargeable battery. It is theoretically replaceable -- but it is soldered to the contacts.

Theoretically replaceable coin battery in AirPods Pro, photo courtesy iFixit
Theoretically replaceable coin battery in AirPods Pro, photo courtesy iFixit


That assembly is connected with a ribbon cable with a zero-insertion-force (ZIF) connector to the stem. The electronics in the stem don't just slide out, though, and require the bottom to be cut off the stem for release.

Stem electronics in the AirPods Pro - photo courtesy iFixit
Stem electronics in the AirPods Pro - photo courtesy iFixit


The battery case is very similar to the previous generation, and uses many of the same chips. The Lightning port is modular, and can also theoretically be replaced, assuming you can find a replacement part to do so.

Apple's existing service policies are to replace broken AirPods Pro ear pieces and charging cases in the store. It has never been clear what Apple does with units from customers that it swaps out -- iFixit believes that the new units are "potentially be a tiny bit more repairable" but not by consumers. It theorizes that Apple could potentially repair broken AirPods Pro or the Charging Case by replacing the in-ear portion with a re-use of the stem electronics, given the ZIF socket and modular nature of that component.

Exploded view of iPods Pro and Charging Case - photo courtesy iFixit
Exploded view of iPods Pro and Charging Case - photo courtesy iFixit


For the consumer, iFixit has given the AirPods Pro a 0 out of 10 repairability score -- which is no surprise.





After weeks of speculation, Apple announced AirPods Pro on Monday, featuring Active Noise Cancellation and improved sound. The $249 earbuds rely heavily on Apple's H1 chip, with the company saying that the extremely low audio processing latency of H1 enables real-time noise cancellation, delivers high-quality sound using adaptive technology, and responds to hands-free "Hey Siri" requests -- all simultaneously.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    Really nice X-ray video which ifixit posted in their tear down under step 3! :smiley: 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 33
    thrangthrang Posts: 1,012member
    who cares
    mwhite1983cy_starkmanrazorpitMetriacanthosaurusjahbladetmayStrangeDaysmagman1979baconstang
  • Reply 3 of 33
    ScreenSaversScreenSavers Posts: 4unconfirmed, member
    WOW This is a poorly written article! It says “iPods Pro” multiple times. Somebody didn’t research at all or likely used dictation.
    edited October 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 33
    foljsfoljs Posts: 390member
    and have found that it is still essentially not user repairable at all

    Because otherwise users regularly repair their other bluetooth earphones?
    beowulfschmidtdamn_its_hotmwhite1983n2itivguyelijahgrazorpitjbdragonjahbladeStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 33
    gordygordy Posts: 1,004member
    I guess I wont be seeing an "18K gold AirPods Pro" video on YouTube anytime soon. Looks like you have to rip it apart to disassemble.
    edited October 2019 cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 33
    When’s the last the you heard of someone repairing earbuds?
    Ifixit exists for clicks... Kinda like ...
    StrangeDaysmagman1979gilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 33
    19831983 Posts: 1,225member
    thrang said:
    who cares
    Exactly!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 33
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 1,080member
    When’s the last the you heard of someone repairing earbuds?
    Ifixit exists for clicks... Kinda like ...
    They tear down every product Apple makes that is tear down-able. It’s not like they are picking on the AirPods. Someone is going to google ”replace AirPod battery” someday soon and I’m sure they’ll be glad to know not to bother.

    ive used ifixit many times to repair complex devices, many Apple products, and they do a great service. They have a bit of editorial opinion about repairability, but given their passion for helping people repair, it doesn’t seem out of place. 
    n2itivguyelijahgnetmagecornchippscooter63dysamoriaCloudTalkinfreethinkingchemengin1lorin schultz
  • Reply 9 of 33
    When’s the last the you heard of someone repairing earbuds?
    Ifixit exists for clicks... Kinda like ...
    ..the internet?

    As others have stated, why does a repairablity score matter. I’d love to know what percentage of people, ever, has tried to repair their Bluetooth headphones. What would the score be on the headphones that Sony supplied with my Walkman? I mean, sure, they could be taped up a bit but I wouldn’t really consider that “fixed”.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 33
    neilmneilm Posts: 989member
    AI's tenuous relationship with the English language crawls out from under a rock once again. 

    Are we to read the dangling modifier headline to mean that the ear tips aren't repairable, or that the AirPods Pro (and yes, that is how Apple named them) aren't?

    If the former, then it's wrong: you can get new silicone tips from Apple for $4. Or for the latter, well that's hardly news. As others have already pointed out, microelectronic devices like these are virtually never repairable.
    edited October 2019 elijahglkrupp13485dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 33
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,764member
    ... and other manufacturer's earbuds are easily taken apart and repaired?  Just wondering.
    lkruppcornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 33
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    MacPro said:
    ... and other manufacturer's earbuds are easily taken apart and repaired?  Just wondering.
    Just another talking point for the right-to-repair crowd. What did they expect from a small device like this, torx screws and gaskets? Just imagine what these AirPods would look like if iFixit’s geniuses had designed them. I shudder to think about it.
    cornchiptmayStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 33
    Good.

    To hell with these worthless right-to-repair nutjobs. I don't want worse products just so some cheap asshole can repair them poorly.
    lkruppStrangeDayshammeroftruthbaconstanggilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 33
    General FYI -
    "AirPods Pro" is the correct pluralization of "AirPod Pro", meaning there are two "AirPods" rather than two "Pros". This construction in English is consistent with other examples such as "Attorneys General". 
    edited October 2019 StrangeDaysstompypscooter63baconstangdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 33
    iFixit is great.

    I used them to replace the batteries on two old 64GB iPhone 4S's.  Battery-Kit with tools:  $17.  Battery:  $14.  Revived two ancient devices from a drawer, added $6 amazon rubber cases, and now they're iPods for our 4-year-old.

    I've used it to replace the harddrive->SSD & RAM & system-battery on 2007/2008 iMacs.  Every screw, size, location, wire-clip, EVERYthing.
    Plus comments from users DOING the procedures?  Great.

    The iMac idea was to gain confidence to put a 2TB SSD into my 2009 27" iMac, but I haven't pulled the trigger yet. 
    It's our primary home machine, and if I accidentally kill it, it's new iMac time.

    When I browse Craigslist for old iMacs & Mini's, I use everymac to make sure it can run El Cap, then iFixit to see about upgrades should I buy.

    If you search iFixit for "2006 Dodge Caravan Brakes" I uploaded instructions for doing pads & rotors. 
    Kind of pay-it-forward.  A buddy of mine showed me on two cars how to do the easy job, and I wanted to help others, which it has.

    iFixit it started with mac stuff, now they seem to really want to repair the world.

    I think they even had a step-by-step on peeling a banana or something, so they have a sense of fun too.

    Happy Halloween all.

    E.
    muthuk_vanalingamking editor the grateCloudTalkinfastasleep
  • Reply 16 of 33
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,953member
    thanx_al said:
    General FYI -
    "AirPods Pro" is the correct pluralization of "AirPod Pro", meaning there are two "AirPods" rather than two "Pros". This construction in English is consistent with other examples such as "Attorneys General". 

    I was going to make a snarky comment about how everyone gets this, then I thought about it and realized that, no, plenty of people probably don't.
    king editor the gratedysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 33
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,311member
    1983 said:
    thrang said:
    who cares
    Exactly!
    Well I care, not in fix-ability, but to me I find it interesting on how something is built/assembled. What goes into it. In this case, how they can cram it all into such a tiny device. Of course no one would ever fix them even if they were repairable. Though it would be kind of nice if the battery was easily replaceable. After so long, battery life gets less and less and why throw them away over that?
    dysamoriaCloudTalkinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 33
    I'm hoping that Comply will make foam tips for my Pros. I used to use their Whoomp!™ tips with my old Apple In-Ear Headphones. Made them a much better experience. Foam is much more comfortable and sound blocking than rubber tips.

    That being said, I try a Lot of earbuds and headphones, and the rubber tips on these Pros are the best fitting tips I've ever experienced, so what I said above may not even matter.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 33
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,337member
    foljs said:
    and have found that it is still essentially not user repairable at all

    Because otherwise users regularly repair their other bluetooth earphones?
    Exactly. I have never even thought of repairing something like this?

    Sony's WF-1000XM3 are same style noise cancelling earbud as the Airpods. I can only find a tear down for them on a website I haven't heard of,


    nothing anywhere on iFixit? They have a tear down for Sony's larger over ear noise cancelling phones MDR-1000X, but nothing on WF-1000XM3?





    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 33
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,921member
    jbdragon said:
    1983 said:
    thrang said:
    who cares
    Exactly!
    Well I care, not in fix-ability, but to me I find it interesting on how something is built/assembled. What goes into it. In this case, how they can cram it all into such a tiny device. Of course no one would ever fix them even if they were repairable. Though it would be kind of nice if the battery was easily replaceable. After so long, battery life gets less and less and why throw them away over that?
    Literally speaking I don't think they should be thrown away, I think they should be recycled. But assuming you meant why should they no longer be functional, we can go a bit further. First, you could opt for battery service, which for the two pods is less than half ($50x2). Second, you can sell them as-is (I did this) and still get a bit for them in diminished state. Lastly, some things just get used up. Another wearable with a limited lifespan -- running shoes. For a serious daily runner they don't last much longer than 6 months, and can cost as much as the original AirPods. They go into landfill after, no service and no recycling. 

    While I would like a cheaper battery service (who wouldn't) or user serviceable, the reality is there are compromises in all designs. These are small, light, and water resistant. That comes at the cost of being user serviceable. Such is life.
    edited October 2019 gilly33watto_cobra
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