Apple’s new AirPods Max over-ear headphones may not come cheap, but there’s little doubt that they’re one of the most interesting products to come out of the company this year — a fun departure from its traditional iPhone, iPad, and MacBook lineups.
If you’ve been curious to take a closer look at the engineering and design that goes into Apple’s latest flagship headphones, iFixit is once again rising the occasion, offering up one of its usual in-depth teardowns for the AirPods Max.
While the primary purpose of iFixit’s teardowns is to investigate how easy a device is to repair, particularly by third-party independent repair shops, there are always a lot of fascinating things to be gleaned whenever it tears down an Apple product, and the AirPods Max are no exception.
Although iFixit has only just begun its teardown — it expects to have more details to share later on as it digs in deeper — it’s already begun with a partial disassembly and an x-ray look inside that provides a good overview of how Apple has put together the new full-sized entry in its AirPods family.
Most significantly, if you thought it would be easier to get into the AirPods Max than it has been for Apple’s smaller in-ear AirPods, it looks like you’d be wrong. iFixit has already noted that the assembly is almost entirely glued together, rather than screwed together, requiring a fair amount of careful heat gunning to get inside.
Thanks to Creative Electron, however, iFixit managed to get a preliminary peek inside, and there’s little doubt that Apple has used every inch of space to pack in the advanced electronics of the AirPods Max along with the massive drivers and batteries.
One of the most interesting things this initial look noted is that for whatever reason Apple has actually packed all of the battery cells into only one ear cup; although it’s not yet clear how Apple has managed to balance out the weight on the other side, although iFixit will undoubtedly have more to say about that once it actually begins to dig in.
At first glance, the batteries themselves don’t appear to be easily user-replaceable, as iFixit couldn’t find any actual connectors, but rather just a lot of wires and solder joints, although iFixit added that the connectors aren’t always easy to spot from an x-ray, so they won’t know for certain until they actually open them up and take a look inside.
On the other hand, there are separate logic boards found on each side, packing in independent H1 chips, as Apple has already noted, but there are a lot of other chips packed onto each board as well, many of which are also duplicated in both ear cups, although the boards themselves are still unique overall.
The massive dual ring speaker driver magnets can also be seen, along with the promising fact that the speaker units themselves actually do appear to be secured with screws, rather than glue.
There are also a lot of little alignment magnets throughout, plus brackets for the various microphones, and enough screws used elsewhere to offer hope that once you dig past the initial glue seals the rest of the innards may be more easily disassembled for repair and replacement of parts.
The images iFixit has offered up so far also reveal the other internal components that we already know about, including the Bluetooth and audio amplifier chips, the array of microphones, the accelerometer, and more. iFixit promises that it will have more to say in the coming days, and even teases “a couple of surprises for headphone fans.”