The Apple AirPods are a marvel of miniaturization, packing a lot of features into a small and light body. iFixit has completed its teardown of the AirPod earbuds and case revealing all the tiny chips, components and circuity hidden inside the plastic.
Perhaps most interestingly, the earbuds each contain a tiny 93 milliwatt battery — that’s 1% the size of an iPhone battery. Fitting so much stuff into a small product comes at a cost though; iFixit says the AirPods are not repairable or recyclable.
AirPods are really two separate items, the earbuds and the charging case. iFixit tears down each of these in turn. The left and right earbuds have different model numbers to distinguish between them; their internals are pretty much the same.
The AirPods can only be pried open with a knife and pliers, destroying the plastic casing in the process, so repairs are basically impossible. You can see how densely packed these products are from the X-rays, which penetrate the plastic and show that almost all of the available space is filled.
The earbuds contain a lot of components in a very small space, stuck in place with glue. The main circuit board is contained in the rounded part of the buds, featuring the Apple W1 chip and other microscopic components.
The stem of the AirPods contains a 93 milliwatt battery which is absolutely minuscule. That’s just 1% of the iPhone 7’s charge capacity. AirPods battery life are rated to last about 5 hours. Also attached to the battery is the antenna which extends down the stem of the AirPods to help with reception.
The AirPods case is also surprisingly hard to open up, according to iFixit. The layers of plastic house the battery which tops up the AirPods for an additional 24 hours of playback. The battery capacity is 1.52 Wh, which is actually more than an Apple Watch. The site says the charging case should be able to charge the AirPods eight times over.
An X-ray of the AirPods case logic board reveals some ‘quality issues in this chip’s solder joints’ leading to speculation that this was the reason for the delayed launch. There are also a myriad of other components that make the AirPods case tick. Like the earbuds, these are inaccessible without destroying the adhesive and plastic removing any possibility for after-market repairs.