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Apple's new "truly" wireless earbuds, the AirPods, are the talk of the tech world this week as they finally became available for sale after weeks of shipping delays.
The earbuds, which look just like regular Apple earbuds but without any wires whatsoever, are something of a marvel. They're also an unfixable disaster if they break, according to gadget repair specialists iFixit.
While lots of sites do teardowns on fancy gear like smartphones and laptops, iFixit does so with the specific aim of educating you on what you can and can't replace yourself. I've used the guides on iFixit to replace multiple shattered iPhone screens, and they really know what they're doing.
But even the folks at iFixit can't think of a single thing on the new AirPods that you can replace yourself. The site gave the earbuds a repairability score of zero, meaning you can basically toss them if they ever break and you don't have one of Apple's replacement plans.
Now, this isn't a complete surprise. Phones are barely repairable as it is, and only because they are typically held together with things like screws so they can be disassembled and put back together. The AirPods are so tightly packed with electronics that there's no room for screws, so they're mostly glued together.
That's a real problem, because it's next to impossible to glue something like an earbud back together again.
While Apple does offer the ability to replace a single AirPod for $69 if you lose or break one, it's highly unlikely that even Apple will be able to salvage anything from inside. That's a shame, because everytime one of these gets lost or breaks, it's likely to end up in a landfill for a long time.
Again, it's important to point out that almost every pair of wireless earbuds will have the same issues. They're all small and basically all glued together, so none will be easy to fix on your own. But it's worth keeping in mind just how disposable they are, and the more electronics we stuff inside, the more will ultimately wind up in our landfills.