Call bollocks on Apple's green credentials
The have a about the environment on their web site. This is fantasy and should be called out as such.
iFixit, the Huntingdon Life Sciences of the tech world, has published its long-awaited teardown of the latest Apple earbuds (or, using the terminology of pro tea-leaves readers at Gartner, "earworn wearables"). The AirPods Pro autopsy revealed few surprises. Just like its predecessors, Apple's latest designer buds are …
Yes, and rightly so.
Apple have been making themselves look wonderful in the public eye for decades now, have you seen the condition of the workers in their factories? They're frequently getting cancer and other illnesses, and they're discarded when they're of no use. Let them enjoy their trillions, it'll all come tumbling down.
Although I still find it odd that 'hearing aid' style receivers aren't more common. They are perfect for all day wear, and with different ends can either be completely open, so you can hear the world as normal, or completely closed (though you obviously pay for the custom fit).
There is even a set of standard replaceable and rechargeable battery options available, and the slight additional physical volume would probably allow for both battery options...
I find it odd that they're a thing in the first place. There's no way for them to remain in place unless you cover them with glue, they're the epitome of unusability. Heading aids have a strap that goes around your earflapthingy, headphones sit on your head, for a reason - to hold the damn things in place.
For those people whose ears they fit - they are actually pretty stable in place. They hook behind the 'tragus' (the flappy bit just in front of the ear canal entrance.
If your ears aren't 'apple approved' dimensions... then yes, they're going to fail.
If your ears aren't 'apple approved' dimensions... then yes, they're going to fail.
That would be MY ears. I've tried other earbuds of the same configuration (except they were discount-store wired ones). The only earbuds that work for me are the straight-in ones with the rubber tips.
But seriously, $250 for tiny (and maybe tinny) earbuds that are readily lost or turned into cat-toys (not by YOUR choice) that can't be repaired? I buy something like that, they better be selling at 1/100 of that price. But then again I'm not an AppleDrone(tm).
I too have ears that don't conform to the standard, earbuds wired or not, they just don't stay put, including those with interchangeable rubber adapters to fit different ear canal dimensions. While I'd not consider spending $250 on such things, especially at Apple, for those that might how about manufacturing inert clones? Just a lump of plastic, same size, colour and shape. A potential buyer could buy one just to do a "does it stay in place" test.
And some might buy two so they can walk around in public looking the twats that have wasted $250 on a veblen good - bit like having a fake Rolex.
"That would be MY ears. I've tried other earbuds of the same configuration (except they were discount-store wired ones). The only earbuds that work for me are the straight-in ones with the rubber tips."
That's me too! I thought I was the only person in the world with this problem, not that I give a crap about not being compatible with Apple's overpriced trinkets.
Very wary of new Apple kit post-Catalinastrophe but a fellow freelancer just bought a set of the AirPods and claims that they are the first decent set of earphone he has ever found, and they fit perfectly.
Beer for the brilliant "Huntingdon Life Sciences of the tech world"
At $250, what *other* $250 earphones was he trying? I mean, they have been sold and around for decades, but I seriously doubt this is not a comparison on a free $1 set and a $250 set!
TBH, most of the 'expensive' stuff has been for badging (like the garbage with the 'dre' name attached), nothing at all for the quality. I've got a $30 set of Philips over-ear phones that are superior by far to most other stuff out there, especially to stuff over $200. I've got quite decent $5 ear buds as well which out perform the few more expensive ones I've tried.
It's like the Denon cables or whoever makes the $10,000 patch cables, marketing to stupid people too embarrassed to admit they were had. Probably the only decent premium phones ever made were the "Motorhead Bomber" ones, but I've not been fortunate enough to get my hands on some for a good testing.
I first heard of Beats a few years ago when I bought a HP Slate tablet a few years ago. Couldn't hear any difference, then realised that just enabling it in software wouldn't make it work - I needed to have the hardware as well. Quick look at Amazon - the cheapest set was about 3x what I paid for the tablet!
Needless to say, didn't buy a set.
They sound OK, better than average but they are not "very good". Everything is subjective in audio, but they are just like Bose speakers. Excellent marketing, better audio than cheap but excessively overpriced compared to competition in similar price range. I can't remember seeing Beats being in any top audio reviews for their quality and mainly see them consistently being beat out in the lists.
I think the problem with most Anti-apple haters (I'm one of them) is that they're not objective. Yes, their products are grossly overpriced, yes, they appeal shamelessly to this sick streak in human nature that makes people look down at others, because they can't / won't afford an X price, yes, they're designed, I'm sure on purpose, to make them unrepairable, but generally, people who use their apples, are more than "just happy" with the quality (albeit for rather short time). So, it's rather ridiculous to claim these sound "probably tinny", when I reckon, they probably sound very good (and a couple of reviews support that). I don't think they sound so good to justify the asking price, for that they would have to be much more than "bloody good", but no point in dismissing the quality of sound, without actually trying.
So, it's rather ridiculous to claim these sound "probably tinny"
The size and shape of any speaker can tell you a lot about it's audio characteristics. Seeing a frequency response table can tell you a lot more.
Ear buds generally fall into the 'probably tinny" category simply as a function of their size and shape. IME, the more expensive the price tag the more likely it is that they will actually sound like crap. The problem with people is we assume that since we paid so much for them they must be good and it's US who must be in the wrong. Or, and my experience of apple users has led me to this, some people just have never had anything better and think the product they use is good vs other products that are more functional, better made, and cheaper. It's the whole "I pad a lot for this so it must be good and you paid much less for that so yours must be much worse" mentality.
Correct. The designers are not working for the customers, they're working for Apple. So, they're going to design things that provide the most benefit to those who are paying them.
If that means they're producing items that can be sold at high margins yet need to be replaced in short timeframes, then they're doing a good job for their employers.
And yes, of course we hate them for it.
I venture a revolutionary (?) view that they're perfectly average human beings who believe their "image" I, I, I) is worth any price (and for some, it makes them feel better than the rest). That said, it works both ways, it makes me feel smug and superior to those preening idiots. See? Everybody's happy :)
I wonder if the Apple business model is based on this:
It does seem to fit at least a sub-set of the fanbois who may not be "perfectly average human beings"
How long before this becomes "earables"?
Apple's liberal use of alcohol-resistant adhesives
Maybe some far-sighted employee reckoned that the damn things were all too likely to fall out in the pub.
(Give it 20 minutes and Apple's PR bureau will be all over that one.)
They don't care if they can repair something that will be obsolete in 2-3 years. If it broke they are going to get it sorted by Apple, not dig out their spadger and eye-glass.
Try for one moment thinking from others' viewpoint before judging them, dum-dum.
"They don't care if they can repair something that will be obsolete in 2-3 years."
Apparently they don't care about plonking down so much cash for something that they expect to be tossing away in 2 or 3 years, either. Weirdness abounds.
I've had a few el cheapo US$5-10 earbuds, and they last less than a month of everyday use. Some I've been able to repair but if i'd been valuing my time even at minimum wage and had been paying for supplies that would have been a waste of money. A set of mid-market wired ones would probably work better (even apple wired ones, which sound OK but don't fit my ears) would be cheaper, but US$7 per month for that kind of usage isn't all that extravagant.
"I've had a few el cheapo US$5-10 earbuds, and they last less than a month of everyday use."
I usually get at least a year out of mine. Maybe it's because my parents lived through rationing during and after WW2 so it was instilled in me from an early age to be careful with stuff and look after so it lasts a good long time. eg I always place my phone on the desk. I see many others who just casually throw theirs on the desk. A couple 100 quids worth of relatively delicate electronics and they chuck it around like some disposable coffee cup. Likewise those people who see actors slam down the lids/screens of their laptops for dramatic effect and then do the same with their £400-£1000+ laptops. Some of them even have the nerve to profess to be "green" and carry re-usable coffee cups with them. I wonder how many coffee cups they need to "save" to neutralise the shortened lifespans of their devices?
"If the things last 3 years, you're paying ~$7/mo for them. That seems crazy expensive to me."
Doesn't sound so crazy to me.
I had a car I bought for $4500 Canadian, into which I put almost $2000 Canadian worth of stereo equipment.
I sold the car 3 years later, not regretting a single penny spent on the stereo since I was in the car 25-30 hours a week...
It all depends on what makes you happy.
Well, John Robson, you can throw $1,000 into my circular file once every three years, if you like. I won't mind in the least :-)
(I still have a fully functional set of Koss cans from the mid 1970s. They sound one hell of a lot better than these Apple thingies, and have cost a couple bucks per year. No batteries required, and no landfill threatened.)
I've just worked out my still functioning Nakamichi headphones have cost me about 0.7p a day. But that doesn't count two replacement cables (5 quid) and replacement foam earpads (7 quid), in those 30+ years.
I volunteer for a repair cafe that tries to fix things rather than chuck them in landfill. I spent a few hours fruitless trying to fix a pair of Beats headphones. I can just about get it apart, but the break is in the fragile multicore cable that goes through the middle of the headband. Not available as a spare part, and almost impossible to replace due to the way they have soldered the connections, and then covered them in impenetrable goop. Well done Apple.
Jake - what are you offering me for $300/year?
I don't use airpods, but my listening devices cost an order of magnitude more than that, and an expected lifespan of five years. They did come with a qualified audiologist though.
The Koss cans aren't nearly as portable as airpods, nor do they have microphones, so they aren't actually comparable in many useful aspects.
"Jake - what are you offering me for $300/year?"
It's not $300/yr, it's the low, low price of $1,000/3yrs. What you get is an ongoing lesson in Total Cost of Ownership without buying into a closed garden full of consumer goods that are the epitome of unnecessary planned obsolescence. At the end of my program, you will have the exact same product as you will doing it Apple's way.
"my listening devices cost an order of magnitude more"
That's nice and all, but what does it have to do with the subject at hand? Shirley you're not playing the handicapped card?
"The Koss cans aren't nearly as portable as airpods"
Oh, horseshit. If you can carry airpods, you can carry my headphones. And if you truly can't, how about a nice pair of 1982's P/19s? (I just dug out three pair ... They still sound excellent, despite having been in a box for probably 30 years. In the same box: a couple of KSC/50 SoundCells that I don't remember owning ... They still work, too.)
"nor do they have microphones"
The ARE a pair of microphones.
So you're offering nothing, as opposed to a decent set of audio interfaces for various devices?
I'm not playing any card - but your concept of value is clearly worlds apart from many. The cost of a device over it's lifetime does depend on the length of time you use a device.
There is no way any wired headphones are as portable as airpods - even in their case they are smaller than either driver on your 70's cans. The airpods, and their case, are designed to be easily pocketable, show me your cans in a pocket.
To suggest that you have a pair of microphones is just pointless to an extend all speakers can be used as microphones - can they be used to make a call - can they be both headphones and microphone at the same time? No.
The airpods serve a specific purpose, and do so very well. They could be made in two sections, with the battery and drivers in the 'top' of the lollipop and have that section replaceable - that wouldn't be a bad move... But to be honest they are likely to be alot more fragile if you do split them in two.
The issue here is definitions. technology and equipment wear out or become obsolete and require replacement after a period of time. Obsolescence isnt really an issue - If you bought an item to do a job it will still do that job even if newer kit can do the task better (- or worse, win 10 anyone?). Wearing out can be avoided by quality of manufacture, and replacing specific components.
On the other hand, consumables exist to be used and thrown away. Apple is marketing their consumables as equipment, but they want you to buy it and piss it away.
I was going to use a beer icon - but I wont waste one on Apple
"Earbuds you might use for 4-5 hours a day - suddenly stops being quite so expensive."
Purchase price is not inexpensive, and the product life is unacceptably short (for me - environmental reasons). I have some Sennheiser IEMs (so, non-wireless) which are 10 years old, have had a lot of use, and look/function like new. My parents have headphones made in the 1970s, which look and sound like new (and could probably be used to subdue a burglar...). I struggle to see a justification why a pair of modern headphones should only last 2-3 years.
"product life is unacceptably short for me"
So don't buy them - easy.
Comparing them with pure headphones is also a bit pointless... They aren't just headphones, they also have an array of microphones, accelerometers, and optical sensors on each as well - adding to the jobs they can do.
I'm sure your IEMs sound great, but 90% of the time that doesn't actually matter - and the lack of a microphone is going to be more inconvenient than the increase in sound quality of on hold music.
They also lack the ability to control your phone/other device in your pocket (or bag, or on the desk on the other side of the room).
The cables to tangle in your pocket (because they do) is also a disadvantage of IEMs, and the case you keep them in to stop that being an issue is almost certainly larger than the airpod case.
Yes, the limited battery life is a disadvantage of any wireless audio device, but the compromise between robustness and repairability has to be drawn somewhere. I suspect it could have been drawn elsewhere - but the factors that went into that decision aren't exactly public knowledge.
The repairability ratings for iPhones are much better than Samsung's phones, so it isn't universal across Apple's products.
Though it really is too bad they can't find a way to make it possible for someone to replace the battery in the airpods - even if requires a bit of effort like phones do that's the part people care about replacing. Complaining about the rest is silly, no one would ever try to "service" a device so tiny that's stuffed to the gills with so many even tinier components.
"Though it really is too bad they can't find a way to make it possible for someone to replace the battery in the airpods - even if requires a bit of effort like phones do that's the part people care about replacing."
It's not only possible - at least one manufacturer's (Unitron) rechargeable hearing aids allow the rechargeable battery to be replaced by a standard battery if needed, simply by opening a little door.
Even more interestingly, I was told by my audiologist that Apple actually have a major stake in Unitron (very small advanced audio processing technology with a focus on minimising power consumption), so it's not as if they aren't aware that it can be done.
Is that Unitron hearing aid IPX4 rated? I think leaving a "door" is going to make it harder to keep moisture out.
One suggestion I read that could work would to be allow you to unscrew the tip to access the battery. That would be easy to keep waterproof, though it would restrict the design somewhat so it would necessarily end up larger/heavier.
To be fair, and I don't necessarily want to be, their record isn't all that bad when compared to many of their rivals. Nothing they make is very repairable, but many of their phones and laptops are at least more repairable than ones from other leading manufacturers. Recent reviews of Samsung and Google phones, Microsoft laptops and tablets, and the like seem to show similar levels of disregard for self-repair. I wouldn't focus on how Apple ranks compared to others. I'd focus on what the raw numbers are, and they range from not great to well it's the bottom of the scale.
True but you have to consider why that is. It may suck for the repairability and upgradability of a laptop to have RAM soldered onto the motherboard for example, but it reduces manufacturing cost, reduces support cost, and allows making a device lighter (before you scoff, there has been a big trend in the market towards lighter laptops)
They are just giving people what most consumers want. How many laptops do you think EVER have their RAM or storage upgraded? For those bought by individuals, I'm willing to bet big money it is well under 10%. Those who do this aren't going to lose many sales over it, and aren't sweating a low score on iFixit. The type of people who read iFixit aren't the target market for those laptops anyway.
Since the ear buds are going to get all coated with ear wax nastiness the glue needs to be proof against what people are likely going to use to clean them - alcohol wipes.
If Apple used glue that the alcohol breaks down you'd be hearing cries of "How dumb can they be, using a glue that won't stand up to cleaning!" They picked longevity here rather than repair-ability. That may not be the choice everyone would make, but there is a logic to it.
Just out of intellectual curiosity, I computed how much lithium is in those batteries.
AirPods apparently contain 93mAh batteries. The formula to estimate the amount of lithium in a lithium battery is 0.3 x the Ah capacity, in grams. So, each AirPod contains approximately 28 mg of lithium.
One wonders if mixing Ah and beer is like pissing into the wind ... Regardless, have one on me for playing the part of the stooge. (I'd have said "straight man", but last time I said that I got sixteen kinds of shit from all directions ... we must do something about the hand-wringers hijacking the language before meaningful communications become impossible.)
"Those who've bought a pair of the $250 buds will have to accept that when its rechargeable battery eventually fails (give it a couple of years), they'll have to purchase a brand-new product"
I avoid wireless earbuds for a number of reasons, but among the largest is that I don't need any more devices that require recharging. However, that the battery can't be replaced when it wears out provides a second reason to avoid AirPods, at least, but I'd be surprised if any other wireless earbuds are much better on this count.
I prefer wired for the simple fact that when/if it falls/gets knocked off my head it's still connected to whatever it's plugged into & thus can be retrieved.
I'd be up shite creek if sitting on the bus, get slammed into the window because the driver swerved to miss something, only to feel a sudden breeze in the ear that had been holding a wireless doohickey just a moment ago. Is the escapee in my lap? On the floor? On my shoulder? In the person beside me handbag? Down her bra? How do you politely ask "Excuse me Miss, could I please root around in your cleavage for my missing doohickey?" She'd slap me so hard I'd end up losing the other doohickey!
At least with wired headphones I can simply tug on the wire of the escaped side, reel in the errant runaway until I'm holding it again, & save myself getting assaulted by the woman beside me whom didn't approve of me wanting to go splunking in her bra. =-)P
"I prefer wired for the simple fact that when/if it falls/gets knocked off my head it's still connected to whatever it's plugged into & thus can be retrieved."
Exactly! I also find that I have to insert and remove my earbuds many times a day to listen to other things and it's nice to have them on a cord around my neck that I can easily reach for and put back in if I need to.
Let's look at the cost too. $250 and will last 24 months. I'll round up to 25 months for easy maths. That's a tenner a month for ear buds! I'm also being optimistic about them surviving that long. I'd likely need to take them out, put them in my pocket and forget them until the pants were headed for the dryer. Either that or they'd land in the sink while I'm washing up or brushing my teeth.
Whatever price I've paid for them, earphones that go out-and-about with me tend to last about 18 months to 2 years. They do get 30-50 minutes use a day though. I've also never lost a pair, but am not so confident with wireless things this small not going walkabouts.
However this makes me reluctant to spend serious money on them. Because in that law of averages, some are going to survive much shorter times - and sod's law says those will be the expensive ones.
So my ideal headphone budget is under £20. And Sony do a foldable pair of chunky ones for that.
I know I could do better on sound quality. But given I'm always walking near traffic or I'm on trains - and I don't want to deafen myself to outside noise - I just want something that's good enough. I'm not going to get hi-fi quality on the go, and mostly I'm listening to podcasts (speech) anyway.
I go the opposite way -- I buy fairly high-priced wired earbuds (because the sound quality becomes annoying to me below a certain price point). The pair I currently use are intended for sound engineer roadies at concerts, so they're very, very robust, fit well, and sound great. I've had those for five years now (I use them, on average, about 5 hours a day), and they still work perfectly -- you'd even have to closely examine them to notice they're not new.
I'm guessing that you treat your high-priced wired headphones rather well. That's quite a logical thing to do given how much you spent on them. My problem, however, is that I want not to treat them well. I want to use them out and about, finish up, and coil them into a pocket or bag. I don't necessarily want to spend a ton of time neatly keeping the wire in perfect condition because it's quite likely I will stop using them when I need to be doing something else. In my experience, cables don't last very long when you do that to them, especially the pretty thin ones attached to most sets of headphones. I've killed far too many sets to spend very much money on them.
That said, I do have a good set of wired headphones which are quite high quality. I keep those at home, neatly organized, and only use them when doing audio work. I don't need that kind of quality when I'm using headphones elsewhere, and I don't want to lose the money spent on them by damaging a cable which isn't always as straightforward to replace as it looks.
"I buy fairly high-priced wired earbuds"
If you want to be really posh, you can get the custom fitted ear monitors that musicians use on stage. I think it's Taotronics that makes a small Bluetooth receiver that you can plug into and pair with your music player/mobile. You get the best of both worlds and still have a wired option if you need it. That set up is on my list for playing drums. It's not cheap so it's something you want to look after. Maybe you still want to get some less expensive wired earbuds for when you just want some background tunes.
Always the option to hand them in to an apple store once they no longer work. I recently dropping in an old school ipod that no longer worked and a iphone 4s. hopefully they tore them apart and disposed on the remains properly. It was that or they went straight to landfill.
I'm sorry dowvoters, but while anecdotal, this is based on my ear- and headphone usage over the last 30 years, and that of people around me. It's 100% consistent, cheap ear/heapphones are crap, because they're cheap(ly) made and because they're designed to be disposable. Even my cheap, but good quality (of sound) headphones lasted me no more than 5 years. Any earphones I've ever bought (cabled), within 30 quid range: 6 months - 2 years (tops). And I don't use my earphones a lot, nor treat them like a bunch of keys. I've recently moved to wireless, both head and earphones, and the difference in comfort means I'll never go back (ok, other than my cheap as chips cabled superlux ;)
The thing I've always struggled with with Apple headphones is volume. I have pairs of Apple, Sennheiser and Sony wired headphones, and the Apple ones are so much quieter on max vol than either of the others. I also have a set of the Sony WL-1000x bluetooth jobbies, and whilst not as loud as the others, they are still again, a fair whack louder than the standard Apple wired ones.
I agree. In fact loudness is my most important buying criteria. Sound quality a distant second. I do mostly listen to podcasts though. But when I do choose to listen to music, it tends to be in quieter environments.
I know there are health concerns, but some of these things are putting out ludicrously low volumes.
Blame government regulations for that. But you can disable it -- here's a method that doesn't require rooting your device (I can't say first-hand if it works, as I root my phone and disabled it using Xposed.)
Form factor comes into play here too. Likewise, I have a selection of headphones/buds for use in various circumstances. Usually I have a pair of standard iphone (wired) buds in my ears as I'm on conf calls all day. Comfortable enough over long periods and perfectly audible in office/home environments, and they don't make you look like a twat. As they're wired I don't have to recharge the fuckers all the time.
However, when I'm outside, the Apple buds are hopeless. Far too much ambient noise coming through, so I end up turning the volume up to max - a generally bad idea all round. I'm not sure the volume is actually lower than the others - there's just too much other noise coming through. Over to the Sennies or Bose over-ears at that point.
And no, I'm not going to pay £250 for a disposable item. I'll pay it for the Sennies or Bose Noise-cancellers, but expect to have those for many years.
"iFixit think it's within the realms of possibility for Apple to re-work the AirPods Pro to become slightly more fixable"
Yes, it's also within the realms of possibility that they will use USB Type-C and put 3.5mm jacks back on the phones. Not however within the realms of probability...
Dunno if anyone else watches The Good Place, this weeks episode had a description of some of the horrors of the world along the lines of "wars, murders, and vindictive nerds at Apple are changing the charging cable shape again"
If the ear thingies stop working the only person to know that will be the wearer.
Since most people wear them to impress others it does not matter whether they work or not.
When I was kid people put the dog end of their fag behind their ear, these things look just like dog ends hanging out of the ear.
Why would anyone ever want to repair these things? In a year Apple will come out with a "new and improved" version that costs twice the price called the Airbud Puppy Super Pro. The fanbois will line up around the block to get these new devices on the day they are released and throw their old ones in the trash. The following year the "new and improved" version called the Airbud Puppy Super Duper Pro will be released for again double the price and the same thing will happen.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
And the actual improvements year over year? Lighter glue and smaller lighter batteries.
As with many here (I guess) I have been through drawers full of earphones/buds/whatevers. Used to keep them all because when first bought they sounded great (i.e. better than others I had) and "still worked" but eventually threw them all out. Because what for?
And remember, young'uns, Pete Townshend blamed loud music pumped direct to eardrums** for damaging his hearing (aside of course form Moon's explosions and decibel-record-setting gigs).
**But agreed, good as a temporary fix for adolescent "confusion". The Kinks' original "You Really Got Me" recommended for the purpose.
I don't know whether you've been keeping up with modern events. Even the fanbois don't "queue around the block" any more. Latest iphone releases are treated with "meh" and the queues don't happen. iPhone sales are dropping.
Can we stop using lazy assumptions from years ago now please?
What are you going to repair on such things ?
The battery ? unobtainium.
The circuitboard ? good luck buying a BGA rework station, getting your hands on the custom chips and developing the fine motor skills to replace 01005 capacitors off a flex board.
While i applaud iFixit historically for doing teardowns ( not really needed , go on FCC website and look up detailed apple provided innard shots ) , the state of current hardware makes things irrepairable apart from swapping a module. That is not repairing. Repairing is component level debug like Rossman is doing.
"The battery ? unobtainium."
That's odd. I have replaced the rechargable batteries in any number of things in the last month. Including the ones in MeDearOldMum's wireless hearing aids. It's not exactly like the technology is unknown ... outside Apple, of course. But then they decided that a paper bag was a good idea and worth patenting ... not exactly living in the RealWorld, are they?
 Her mid-80s eye-hand coordination isn't what it was even two years ago, alas.
"The battery ? unobtainium."
The battery appears to be a standard one.
"The circuitboard ? good luck buying a BGA rework station, getting your hands on the custom chips and developing the fine motor skills to replace 01005 capacitors off a flex board."
For the AirPods, you wouldn't need speciality BGA gear. A hot air rework station would do the job. I hate dealing with BGA chips, personally, but I wouldn't worry too much about ones that are as small as that. Dealing with those tiny SMD capacitors and such can be a little fiddly, but it's not as hard as you're implying. The custom chips could be easily obtained by getting your hands on other people's broken AirPods. However, the chips are the least likely thing to go wrong.
I'm not saying that repairing these things would be a walk in the park, and certainly most people wouldn't do it even if it were -- however, it's not really a huge problem for electronics hobbyists, and if you didn't have to destroy the things to get access to the nougat center, it would likely be a tidy little side business for electronic repair shops.
'They' said one couldn't replace the battery on my 'TomTom GO 50' which, as it happens, was sold to me with 'unlimited updates'. Well, indeed it could be done. Opening the 'snap-together' case was the trixy part. Now I can leech more updates!
Anyone trying this at home should use a 'Japanese spatula', the small square of spring steel kind, not the Onomiyaki kind. There is also a special repair kit available on the net with a suitable spatula in it.
There's not much distance between an earbud and a hearing aid. Earbuds seem to have a shorter battery life (both between charges and overall). Hearing aids tend to be rather more expensive but they last a whole lot longer. They come with all sorts of add-ons these days including Bluetooth, selective filtering, noise cancellation and so on.
The big question is "Why would anyone who's not suffering hearing loss voluntarily wear a sub-standard hearing aid?". It not only has the potential to damage your hearing but it also has the potential to injure you because you're pretty much cut off from your surroundings when wearing the things (no ambient noise....you don't hear the vehicle that hits you.....). Even the 'stem' only seem necessary to advertise you've got the (Apple) things in your ear (hearing aids try to hide as best they can).
I don't want these, and they're ridiculously priced as well, but there is a simple answer to why people want earphones that block out a lot of the noise from their environment: open plan office. I'm in a mixed plan office and I still choose to use headphones because if I decide to work to music, I won't be irritating the person closest to me. In addition, having devices that have the capacity to serve as impromptu earplugs can be nice if I'm being subjected to far too much ambient noise. An airplane cabin or construction zone next to where I'm working come to mind. Another that comes to mind is if I have to work inside the server room at some point. The shriek of lots of servers is annoying and can damage my hearing, while there's very little likelihood I have to listen out for dangers (unless it's the BOFH's server room) or would be able to hear them anyway.
I find listening to music helps on flights. I suspect the other passengers might get annoyed if I used a ghetto blaster, so I use my £25 pair of headphones*.
(*Headphones - two ear pods connected together by a band across the top of the head. This band prevents them from falling off. They also come with a wire that connects to a phone to avoid the need for unreplaceable batteries)
Different situations require different solutions.
I require music to keep me awake on long drives - through external speakers.
On flights, wired, noise cancelling headphones let me listen to my music while avoiding the stupid in-flight offerings and headache inducing movies.
Someplace in our clients workplace policies is a prohibition on ear blocking headphones or buds.
Walking around what is effectively the wilderness, an external bluetooth speaker lets any wildlife or stock know I am approaching and decide what it wants to do about it without startling them (It turns out cattle are fascinated by Finnish Black Metal).
Walking in the city, or using public transport, wired or bluetooth earbuds allow me to enjoy my tunes without inflicting them on others.
Listening to music has significantly improved my mental health, too much time alone inside my head isnt good for me, and having the screaming going on outside does put a smile on my face.
I agree that all earphones of this type should at least have replaceable batteries.
But how many people whilst whingeing about these pod things, will happily buy watches and 'phones of ANY brand that also don't have replaceable batteries?
At th end of the day it is our fault as consumers, I include myself here, for buying the damned things instead of refusing to buy until they have, for example replaceable batteries.
Electronics components are only rated for water, ethanol, isopropanol, and some of the fluorinated nasties. MEK and acetone are definitely not safe for more than 2 or 3 seconds. Silicone and epoxy component cases absorb those solvents like a sponge then burst open. That's why the adhesives tend to be 2-part cure, thermal cure, or moisture cure.
Putting an SMD foil capacitor into MEK or acetone makes a lot of confetti.
While the repairability of such a small device was always going to be low. Not making it so at least you could have the battery replaced once its dead is just ridiculous.
I suspect if most buyers knew in advance that their $250 purchase would have to throw them away in 2 years time when the battery died they would probably not buy them. Maybe its time the law was changed to say that manufacturers have to print the expected life of their items on their advertising literature? Including such things as for how long they will supply security updates for the software etc.
Vegetable oil works on an amazing number of adhesives; bumper stickers, plastic & glass food labels, mailing labels, software seals...oopsie!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should e'er be forgot!
Well I still have as my primary mouse a generation 1 USB roller ball three button IBM mouse, circa 1994. People in the office laugh at it, and its cable that is long enough to reach over the back of the desk and down to the bottom of a tower placed on the floor underneath it. Never mind the fact I'm plugging it into a laptop 6 inches away.
It works, I have used it for 25 years, and aside the odd need to clean the rollers, there's nothing wrong with it.
2-3 years as a lifetime for an expensive, non repairable piece of kit should be a environmental crime.
I still own and operate half a dozen of 1987's Microsoft "Dove Soap" mouses/meese/whatever. To my hand, they are the best two button mouse ever made. It's pretty sad, when you think about it, that the world's largest software company has only made one decent product in it's entire history ... and it's a bit of peripheral hardware for an interface that has been depreciated.
I also have a box full of Sun mice ranging from the rebranded Mouse Systems M1 through M4 models, along with a handful or two of the Sun Type 5s and enough pads for all of 'em. Most are new, and unused. I should probably sell 'em on fleabay ...
If you want small, things are not repairable and reliable at the same time.
The smaller you want something the more expensive it is, until enough people buy to get economies of scale and thus cheaper manufacturing.
(I'll stick to the inconvenience of wired earbuds for now.)
Best fixed with a Lump Hammer. Don't forget to remove them first.
My best ever earphones, still used by choice, were the Sony Megabass Walkman ones.
Although they don't fit in my ears quite as well as silicone straight-in cheap things.
The jack and wires don't crackle with physical contact noise either.
It still works too. I use it while gardening, cutting the lawn. Well, the FM radio bit. Fed up of the few surviving cassettes, chez moi.
For the majority of my hours, I have never liked isolating myself from the world around me.
I am so pleased that I have read this today as I was going to buy some of these this week.
You have saved me some money and the planet a small amount of landfill.
I am going to buy the much cheaper generic ones as it seems that Apple does not mean quality and longevity with this product.
I see no advantage to using wireless earbuds.
People I know who have them keep complaining that they have lost one or one dies before the other. I keep telling them that my cheap JVC gummies require not charging, dont get lost separately and on cost me £9. Spend a bit more for one with a mic that works with most phone models. Also they become the antenna for that built in FM radio that every mobile phone has, apart from a few models who think that there is never a reason to tune to a local station let alone record from one.
I use earBUDS not earDUDS
Daughter bought a pair. I tried them and honestly, they can't hold a candle to my cheapish JBL Tune110BT's. Which themselves are cheerful but hardly hifi, compared to my normal work-wear (wired) Sennheiser £40 earbuds.
The Apple ones look good, but only until you put the things in your ears. Anyway, every time I sneezed or coughed, they fell out.
When I'm doing serious listening it can only be my HD700 References, but then I'd mention vinyl and my lovely valve preamp with NOS 60's Mullard tubes and lose the room.
It's surprising how many of the "Extinction Rebellion" and other such twats will rush out and buy the latest crap fad product, or buy electronics with a life span measured in months, and fill their lives with other plastic-loaded garbage, yet wail and protest about damage done to the environment and how other people should take responsibility.
Now it's warmer I am eating cold meals more often, starting to spend some of my free time building furniture from recycled timber that was destined for the tip (and have had orders/requests for a pile of stuff from neighbours - maybe I should change jobs again!), and expect at least 5 years life from any phone or other device (excluding dropping from more than twice my height or accidental dunkings - which I've not actually managed to do aside from a phone forgotten in an outside pocket while tramping with a very unexpected downpour (more that I'd forgotten to put the phone in my pack in it's plastic baggy than the rain though).
At least from the very first post someone has picked up on this (not that I've actually read any more than my own verbiage thus far :) )
These ER people should be fighting the companies who make the products they use first. Instead of buying these things (and other companies' versions) like no doubt a great many of them will, they should be rejecting the brand outright, perhaps even giving away products of said brand that they own (why give away - imagine if a few million I'mOwned twits give away the stuff instead of trying to sell it - apple's new and 2nd hand prices as well as their stock will take a significant hit). Actually many of them probably badger their parents into buying the latest ishiney (or is that 'is hiney'?) rather than doing the work and paying themselves (yes I started earning my own money before I started high school - and it meant I could charge my parents for doing our lawns as I'd otherwise be able to be out doing other work - and they soon started charging me cooking and cleaning etc costs :) )
 Semi-phonetic pun on 'iphOne' in case you missed it - explained because explaining seems to piss some El Reg readers off
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