AirPods Max teardown reveals a build that’s easy to repair, and why it costs so much

The latest teardown from the folks over at iFixit is here, and this time, it’s the long awaited (and much anticipated) AirPods Max teardown! As always, the report scores the repairability of the headphones, while giving us a peek beneath the (expensive) externals of Apple’s over-ear headphones.

So, guess what? The AirPods Max actually scores a decent six out of ten for repairability—which is iFixit’s highest score ever given to a pair of AirPods (which have never attained a single point for repairability). A big part of that appears to be down to the ear pads on the AirPods Max. They attach magnetically, which also means that you can easily swap them out once they begin to wear.

The use of screws (and quite a few of them, actually) also adds to this. Unlike previous AirPods models—which were earbuds, so a lot of glue was naturally used—a lot of the components within the AirPods Max are screwed into place. This, of course, makes things easier to repair.

There are, however, a couple of caveats to this.

“It turns out, you’re not supposed to remove the screws—just rotate them each a quarter turn or so, to release a locking wedge on the other side.”

“The next round of frustration: adhesive. That’s right, releasing the locks and/or removing the screws isn’t enough. Out comes the heat gun, which must be wielded very carefully to avoid melting all this plastic.”

Why are the AirPods Max so expensive?

After literally taking everything apart, iFixit says that the RM2,300 price tag is a little more understandable. For one, the AirPods Max features “obsessive craftsmanship”, with the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose NC700 referred to as “toys by comparison”. The intricate nature of the AirPods Max’s engineering is reminiscent of a mechanical watch, rather than headphones, say the teardown artists.

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Meanwhile, Apple’s over-ear headphones are actually “quite serviceable”, but only if you have the correct tools—and if you’re willing to put in the effort. It isn’t a perfect process, however, and DIY attempts should be limited to those who really know what they’re doing. Despite the screws and replaceable ear pads, there’s still quite a bit of adhesive, which would certainly complicate repair efforts.

This is iFixit’s summary:

Plus, it looks like you’ll need a pretty wide array of screwdriver heads to really take the AirPods Max apart. But all in all, the teardown reveals that there is a high degree of complexity in the construction of the AirPods Max, possibly explaining the high price tag.

This doesn’t mean that the AirPods Max are value for money, of course—that depends on a lot of factors beyond repairability. We’ve yet to fully review the headphones, so be sure to come back to for more coverage on everything you need to know.