As expected, iFixit shut down Apple's new second-generation AirPods to see what's different and how repairable they are compared to the previous iteration.
Let's get rid of the second point right away: they are not usable at all. iFixit had to do something funny to open the AirPods. Despite their expertise and tools, the iFixit team was unable to do so without permanently damaging the product. They described the product as "disappointingly disposable," which means that there is no practical way to maintain or repair it yourself in a professional shop.
This is disappointing as the batteries in the AirPods do not last for more than a few years when used intensively and are difficult to recycle. Apple is offering to recycle headphones through partners as part of its Apple GiveBack program. However, the GiveBack web portal does not provide a product-specific category for AirPods, as is the case with most other Apple products. Consumers can simply select a general category "Headphones and Speakers" on the website.
Here's a curious side note we did not notice before: Writing on the new AirPods packaging references AirPower, Apple's long-delay wireless charger. The new AirPods come with an optional wireless charging case, but Apple still has not brought the popular AirPower product to market. The text in the packaging states that the AirPods case "works with AirPower mats and Qi certified chargers".
The demolition also showed some differences to the AirPods of the first generation. The battery is the same size, but iFixit has identified the new Bluetooth 5-enabled H1 chip in the earbuds themselves. The site also noted some small differences that are likely due to Apple's efforts to increase water resistance. All details can be found on the iFixit demolition page for the product.
All in all, iFixit has given the AirPods a 0 out of 10 points for repairability – which is low even for Apple products. In contrast, the site also opened Samsung Galaxy Buds, giving them 6 out of 10 points.
Listing image by iFixit