As with practically every high-profile gadget to hit the market, the folks at iFixit took apart Apple Watch Sport to reveal what is inside. There were no new revelations on the hardware. But it looks like the Apple Watch is nearly impossible to repair.

The DIY gadget repair website meticulously took apart every possible aspect of Apple Watch Sport and gave us some insight into whether the wearable gadget will survive many years of use.

Unsurprisingly, the answer is no.

iFixit Apple Watch Teardown

We already know that you can easily remove the band so you can swap it out for another. There is a button on the backside that you can push to release the mechanism that secures it in place. Rumor has it that you can’t swap bands between different models, but according to Apple the bands are interchangeable as long as they are compatible with the size of the display (38mm or 42mm).

The display screen is easy enough to lift open with the right tools (a heating element, tech knife, and prying tool). But, once open, it appears that disconnecting the display is difficult because the cables are “trapped under a springy bracket.” Difficult, but not impossible.

iFixit Apple Watch Teardown 1

On to the battery, which is surprisingly easy to remove. According to iFixit, the power source is held in place with light adhesive and could be quickly removed with a plastic opening tool. Way to go Apple.

After that, everything else is a mess. iFixit was unable to successfully remove the S1 chip because there were soldered connectors that couldn’t be properly removed and were ripped out when trying to lift the chip.

Basically, Apple doesn’t seem to have plans to make their wrist worn device upgradable beyond battery replacement. So if your device only runs for a few hours at a time in a few years, you might be able to revive it with a battery transplant. But if it starts to feel sluggish after downloading the latest OS or doesn’t handle the latest third-party apps, you might need to buy a new watch with a faster processor.

Apple probably doesn’t expect you to replace the battery yourself — but the company will offer to replace it for you, which could come in handy if you plan to continue using your watch for more than a year or two.

Apple’s software upgrades are traditionally only compatible with devices that are a few years old (iOS 8 is compatible as far back as iPhone 4s, which launched in Oct. 2011), which means the first-generation Apple Watch will probably be obsolete in four years.  While we still haven’t seen the inside of the Edition model, if it looks anything like Apple Watch Sport, the $10,000 gadget may not be long for this world.

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10 replies on “Apple Watch teardown: Battery is replaceable, other upgrades unlikely”

  1. Yes the battery was fairly easy to remove… after several not-easy-at-all disassembly steps were performed first.

    I assume the $10k version costs that much because of the materials used in the case. If that goes obsolete in a couple years, are you just out $10k?

  2. Regardless of the battery or OS, all the Apple wristjobs will be visibly obsolete in a year when Apple introduces a slimmer, possibly round, version 2. For those who paid extra for a band that didn’t look like it came from a Swatch, I wouldn’t be surprised if the current watch bands were incompatible with the new model.

  3. Apple doesn’t seem to have plans to make their wrist worn device upgradable beyond battery replacement

    Well, what were they (or you) expecting? To change the CPU? To upgrade RAM or flash memory? This is basically par for the course for a phone or phone-like accessory.

    1. Dissagree on the phone part metai. Though not all phones are created equal, some have more ease of part replacement than others, otherwise Ebay would not be a thriving phone parts repository! I have seen parts for just about every phone made, from batteries to usb to screens and more. Then there is tool creation for these same phones. There is also software upgrades from many blogs, XDA to start with. So I agree on some of your point, but not all. I will agree that the companies like Samsung and Apple are making things harder for the consumer/mechanic/techie repairman, but there is no such thing right now as the perfect unrepairable phone.

      1. I think both our arguments are valid. Yes, some parts of phones can be replaced. However, these are usually repair parts that replace a whole part of the assembly. Even though you can replace whole boards in the assembly, I have yet to see a phone where you can specifically replace the CPU or the (RAM/flash) memory chips. And judging from the “they tried to remove the S1 chip”, that’s what ifixit was trying to do, making me wonder what they were expecting. Heck, even with full-sized laptops, it’s almost impossibly hard to replace a CPU nowadays, and increasingly so with memory chips.

        1. I understand what you mean, but I think iFixit was referring to the possibility of swapping out the whole mainboard (which happens to be emblazoned with “S1”), not the individual chips. It’s not an unreasonable expectation considering that some versions of the Apple Watch cost multiple thousands of dollars.

          1. Right, I stand corrected. Well, it’s a shame that the mainboard cannot be replaced then. You’d think they would have it replaceable just for their own convenience when fulfilling their service agreements. But then, I can imagine that their undoubtedly huge markup allows them to just not bother, toss the whole thing and replace it with a new one.

  4. I wouldn’t expect any of these tiny devices to do that well in these types of tests.

  5. So, as you said, nothing unexpected here. Meanwhile, my Timex has taken a licking and it is still kicking and ticking!

Comments are closed.