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22nd of February 2018

Technology



Apple's HomePod Is 'Built Like a Tank' and Very Hard to Repair

Apple doesn't like anyone opening up and messing around inside its devices, which is part of the reason why we have non-replaceable iPhone and iPad batteries that feature plenty of adhesive to stop anyone from getting inside.

Apple's latest hardware release, the HomePod, appears to be no different. The smart speaker was torn down by iFixit, and it's bad news for anyone attempting to repair the $349 device without paying Apple to do so.

Gaining access to the internals of the HomePod is an exercise in patience and heat gunning. Apple sealed it shut with three layers of adhesive, glue pads, and Torx screws. The 3D mesh that surrounds and protects the HomePod had to be cut to reveal one of the screws, and in order to access and remove the woofer, iFixit ended up slicing through the casing using a hacksaw and ultrasonic cutter. On top of that, the power cord is non-removable.

It's clear Apple doesn't want anyone opening up the HomePod. Interestingly, iFixit also discovered a threaded ring inside, suggesting at some point Apple had allowed the speaker to be unscrewed and opened up. Clearly that feature didn't make it into the final design, though.

The difficulty of getting inside and repairing the HomePod means iFixit awarded it a 1/10 repairability score. The situation is such that attempting to repair one yourself will most likely result in more damage being caused. These design decisions also go a long way to explaining why, as 9to5Mac reported last week, Apple charges $279 for an out-of-warranty repair. Apple's technicians will also have to break open each HomePod to fix any fault.

If you buy a HomePod, AppleCare+ looks like a must, as is positioning it in a very safe location in your home. You really don't want to have to deal with a faulty HomePod.

In PCMag's review of the HomePod, we were impressed with the powerful sound, audio adjustment based on room acoustics, and visual design of the smart speaker. However, a lack of Bluetooth streaming, no AUX control, no way to disable DSP, and no voice control for non-Apple music services put it well behind the Amazon Echo and Google Home Max. The fact it is almost impossible to repair without paying Apple is another negative against this $349 device.

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