As is a custom at this point, online repair kit and tool vendor iFixit tore down one of the latest Apple products and assessed its repairability. In this case, the product is the ultra-expensive ($ 550) AirPods Max over-ear noise-canceling headphones.
Most of the interior components are about what you’d expect in a high-end pair of wireless headphones, but the machinery is highly intricate, and there are many, many screws.
iFixit found that the Lightning port is particularly difficult—though not impossible—to reach, which is unfortunate, given that this is one of the parts most likely to fail. The part is also critical to the device’s ability to function, since it’s the charging port.
Interestingly, iFixit also found that the most complex and “over-engineered” part of the AirPods Max is the joint in each ear cup that affixes the cups to the band and allows the cups to be flexible. It took considerable careful effort to disassemble this part of the headphones, and iFixit speculates that this part is so complex because the behavior and stability of these joints is critical to comfort when wearing the AirPods Max.
There’s also a possibility that it’s this complicated because it actually facilitates swapping out the band easily just like we swap out Apple Watch wristbands. Apple hasn’t announced plans to support this feature, but early rumors about the product suggested that the company was at least considering or working on it.
Wrapping up the teardown, iFixit wrote that “with all their intricate, precision-engineered parts, AirPods Max remind us more of a mechanical watch than of any pair of headphones.”
Still, the headphones weren’t exactly easy to service. While it’s good that screws are usually used instead of glue (in contrast to other AirPods products), they are pentalobe screws, and there is still one place where iFixit had to work its way around glue inside the earcups. The repairability roundup in the teardown also notes that there are a huge number of screws—more so than in other similar products—and laments that “you’ll need an extensive toolkit, even by our standards.”
All in all, iFixit called servicing the AirPods Max “surprisingly painless, particularly for an AirPods product.” The ear cushions attach magnetically, and the headband can easily be detached. iFixit gave the AirPods Max a six out of 10 repairability score.
Listing image by iFixit