The Galaxy Buds are Samsung’s latest truly wireless earbuds, which aim to take on the AirPods and give Galaxy device owners their own special pair of headphones. Shockingly enough, this new set of buds is actually somewhat repairable!
We’ve been extremely skeptical about the wireless earbud category ever since we tore down the AirPods (or rather, tearing them apart). Apple designed and manufactured their new headphones to be completely disposable—the batteries can’t be replaced, so once you use them up, that’s it. Worse yet, they can’t even be recycled due to the amount of glue holding everything together—it would take too much time and money for recyclers to effectively extract the materials.
Recyclers are increasingly experiencing fires caused by small lithium batteries that are difficult to identify and remove. In 2016, the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos was destroyed by an electronic gadget-sparked fire. With the removal of the headphone jack spurring rapid growth in wireless headphones, it’s imperative that manufacturers design them responsibly.
So, we’re excited to report that after squeezing our way into the Galaxy Buds, we found a glimmer of hope: it seems Samsung has summoned the repairability gods and granted us some wireless earbuds that aren’t disposable. They aren’t held together by gobs of glue, and actually contain replaceable batteries—we were able to disassemble them and put them back together without too much fuss. That’s good enough for a repairability score of 6 out of 10—it’s always a good day when you don’t have to break out the Dremel.
Having said that, these could have been repairable wireless earbuds for the ages with just a tad more work. While they were relatively easy to open, prying them apart can dent the plastic, and the batteries could definitely be easier to access once you’re inside. But this is a huge step in the right direction for truly wireless earbuds, and we hope other companies are paying attention.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Teardown highlights:
- The external assemblies are held together with clips instead of glue, making for a mostly non-destructive entry process involving some common prying tools and a Phillips screwdriver.
- The earbuds use coin-cell batteries that are relatively easy to find online for future replacements. The charging case battery is easier to replace, but will most likely be more difficult to source.
- After opening, careful prying is required to separate some adhered components without tearing fragile cables, and some cables in the charging case are soldered directly to the motherboard instead of utilizing contact pads or board connectors. Adhesive is also used to keep many of the internal components together, though it’s not excessive and can be reused for reassembly.