Apple EarPods Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

After three years of research and development, Apple has released the newest version of their popular headphones, now dubbed "EarPods." Join us as we crack these pods open and take a look at what three years of R & D can accomplish.

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Edit Step 1 Apple EarPods Teardown  ¶ 

  • What better accessory to accompany the new-and-improved iPhone than a set of new-and-improved headphones?!? Here are some of the hot new features on Apple's freshest auditory accessory:

    • Redesigned case for improved in-ear fitment and sound distribution.

    • Exterior acoustic vents for increased bass.

    • In-line microphone and volume remote.

    • Dual-material speaker diaphragms to cut sound loss and increase output.

    • Standard issue with any new iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5th Generation, or iPod Nano 7th Generation.

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • In case you were wondering, the EarPods have a model number of MD827LL/A.

  • Apple claims that their new EarPods perform at the same level as headphones that cost hundreds of dollars more, but these sweet beat makers will only cost you $29 (plus tax, if applicable).

  • Call us skeptics if you'd like, but we're not sure how that could be accomplished with a single-driver setup.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • The first thing we notice (and already knew) is the totally redesigned shape of the EarPods. Apple seems to believe that cramming a perfectly round earbud into your ear is no smarter than trying to fit a square peg through a round hole.

    • With the EarPods in your ears, it's actually pretty difficult for passersby to tell that your headphones aren't just good ol' Apple Earbuds.

      • If someone can tell, they either have quite an eye for detail, or they're way too close to your face.

  • The next noticeable design feature for the EarPods is that the main speaker port faces forward, rather than directly into your ear canal.

    • Is sound that is not pointed directly at your ear drum better to listen to? We don't know, but that's the verdict of Apple's acousticians, and they get paid a lot of money to do what they do.

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Apple had durability in mind with the new EarPods. Notice the new remote design (left), which includes larger cable wrapping near the remote than the previous earbuds (right) to reduce strain on the wires.

  • If you're using your EarPods with an iPhone or iPod, chances are you'll be stuffing them into your pocket or backpack a lot, which can put a lot of stress on the connections.

  • To make the new EarPods more resistant to water and sweat damage Apple's designers removed the external microphone grate.

    • As an iFixit user rightfully pointed out to us, the previous microphone grate was for show only! We confirmed that no hole exists in the plastics. Thanks Todd!

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • It's finally time to crack these little guys open; this is a teardown, after all.

  • We prefer to use our guitar picks to shred a pair of EarPods instead of shredding a guitar (which would probably sound great through the EarPods).

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • The underside of the remote cover reveals three buttons and a microphone. No surprise here, as the remote has three buttons.

  • With a little more coaxing cutting, we are able to remove the flexible PCB within the EarPods' remote.

  • The microphone in the EarPods' remote bears the markings 2F17 045.

    • Will this microphone be similar to one of the three microphones inside the iPhone 5? Probably. Will it be the same? All will be revealed in due time three more days.

  • We also uncover another IC with the markings TI25ASGVI 079, which Chipworks believes to be a Texas Instruments ADC, or a device used for volume-control duty.

    • All these components look large when shot in our pictures, but they're quite small in real life. That's how the board looks like when compared to a U.S. dime.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • As a reference, here's what the insides of the old remote look like: two turntables three buttons and a microphone.

  • The control board in the old earphones isn't nearly as sealed or secured as the new EarPods, leading to a common complaint among gym-goers finding that their sweet earphones don't work so well when doused in sweat.

  • The microphone reads: S262 9164.

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • With such a tight fit between the two halves of the EarPods, simply pulling them apart wasn't an option. We knew what we needed to do.

  • We don't normally cut open earbuds, but when we do, we prefer X-Acto #11 blades.

  • This isn't something you'd want to try at home. Once these Pods are open, they're not closing back up unless you want to involve glue.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • While an updated remote is nice, the real innovation in the EarPods is in the speakers.

  • Like most speakers, the speakers in the EarPods consist of a diaphragm/cone, a voice coil, a permanent magnet, and a cabinet.

  • Paper or Plastic? The voice coil is supported by a composite diaphragm made of a paper cone and a polymer surround. This is the first iteration of Apple headphones to use paper cones rather than all plastic.

  • The most exciting—and most widely publicized—feature of the EarPods is the unique teardrop-esque shape of the cabinet.

    • Yet once these guys are open, things start looking quite similar to other earbuds.

    • Apple spent a lot of time analyzing people's ears, so hopefully their external design will pay dividends in the auditory excellence department.

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • For the audiophiles, here are front and back views (top and bottom, respectively) of the separated drivers.

  • Apple's switch to paper-based speaker cones may be the source of their advertised improved low and mid-range response.

  • We also discovered that the speaker basket has a much more refined look than previous models (see comparison in next step), with a fine mesh covering the back and symmetrically-placed vents.

    • The basket is a critical component, as it must be rigid to maintain consistent sound quality while still being open enough to not inhibit movement of air behind the vibrating diaphragm.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Hardly peas in a pod, different revisions of Apple earbuds exhibit some drastic changes in internal construction and driver design.

  • From the top, we have:

    • Previous-generation iPhone earbuds

    • First-generation iPod earbuds

    • New-generation Apple EarPods

  • The most notable differences separating the EarPods are just what you'd expect—a drastically redesigned housing, and a new material for the speaker cone.

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • At iFixit, our bottom line is durability and repairability, and their impact on electronics waste.

  • The new Apple EarPods do have significant improvements in durability:

    • The new remote is better sealed against water damage, and features strain relief wrapping to increase the life of the cable.

    • Paper speaker cones are more resistant to tearing than plastic, decreasing the likelihood of blowing out your drivers.

  • But unfortunately, these products are still of the throw-away kind. Sourcing parts is next to impossible, and it would be a tough sell to convince someone to take apart their earbuds instead of buying a new pair. They will never be the same once taken apart.

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Comments Comments are onturn off

I'm not sure if my edit worked or not, but Step 4 has some incorrect information:

"To make the new EarPods more resistant to water and sweat damage, Apple's designers removed the external microphone grate."

The old microphone grate was actually just for show. There was no hole, just a recessed area and a piece of metal glued to it to indicate that it was a microphone :P

ToddKeebs, · Reply

The step was updated with a hat tip your way, Todd! The "hole" on the other side was covered by a metal piece. It was evident that no hole existed once we removed that piece, but we didn't think to do it earlier since we just *assumed* it would have a hole :)

Miroslav Djuric,

Another little correction on Step 4:

The previous design you're showing isn't in fact the previous design, just A previous design. The previous designe (starting ca. iPhone 4S) did already include a larger cable wrapping.

foobar, · Reply

I'm surprised to hear that it's "unfortunate" that these earpods are the throw-away kind. Does anyone in the world realistically repair their ear buds, especially the $30 kind? It seems like you felt obligated to put an "unfortunately" clause in your article.

Jonathan, · Reply

It's sometimes easy to forget that $30 for a pair of earbuds isn't exactly chump change. Sometimes all you can afford is just a pair of earbuds.

Growing up, if I bought a pair of $30 earbuds, I'd have to hold onto them for a long, long time. There was no "toss it in the trash because it broke" fund. If it broke, I either fixed it or didn't have earbuds. I'm willing to bet that a lot of people are in that same predicament today.

Now granted, I probably wouldn't buy these particular earbuds with my $30, but that's a different story altogether. It is, however, a shame that they — just like most other earbuds on the market — cannot be fixed if broken. I think that sentiment extends to all other non-fixable earbuds, not just the EarPods.

Miroslav Djuric,

Showing a white color product teardown images on a white background? Just a thought a light grey or any other muted color background might have been looked more clear and convincing.

Again, Just my point of view.

wat ever, · Reply

Oh, it's a doozy to shoot white on white, but alas it was the only color paper we had...

Miroslav Djuric,

Have you guys checked out Iron Buds yet? (http://www.acousticforge.com/) The entire purpose of the 'phones was to build earbuds that have user replaceable parts.

IanLogsdon, · Reply

Hi everybody. I was using my ear pods for 1 week and the plug fail. Somebody knows what is the pin assignment and the cable distribution?. Thanks, Uber

Uber Velez, · Reply

I have a problem

Unlike normal earphones and YOUR earpods, my earpods have 4 wires connected, not just 2.

I wondered why and my father said that it's because it has 2 stereos in each speaker. 2 wires for one stereo and another 2 for another stereo. That's 4 stereos in every Apple earpod.

Well i'm trying to hotwire the earpods so i take the stereo from it and use it on another pair of earphones. Would i have to split the 2 wires of the other earphones to match all 4 sections of the earpod's stereo?

Hadi, · Reply

I was surprised at the hidden mic, and the sound channel they provided (seen on the frame to one side of the mic). The gasket between the bottom shell and PCA frame was clearly there to provide isolation and reduce the chamber size (you can see the gasket and it's mic direction in Step 12).

The one I am looking at now has kapton tape over the whole PCB with the little spacers on it over the button domes. Most likely to prevent the metal from on the button from shorting the PCB.

greystarr, · Reply

So these are in fact dual driver (2 speakers in each earbud)? It looks like this is the case from step 10 but I'm having a hard time accepting this fact due to the price...

tr1ph0pp3r, · Reply

Hello Fix-It Team, could you please describe in detail (!) how to open this remote. I tried it, but had to stop before getting it open, becaus i felt to break any of the hidden plastic snaps?! Is there a „correct“ way to open it so nothing gets damaged?

Thanks for your reply

Dominik, · Reply

This earpods aren't the 12 step

Serafim Valmorbida, · Reply

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