The construction of the Apple Watch will make in-place upgrades extremely difficult if not impossible, an electronics repair firm said today.
"Despite rumors (and hopes) of an upgradable product, the difficulty of removing the S1 alone casts serious doubt on the idea of simply swapping out the internals," said iFixit, the San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based repair and do-it-yourself (DIY) outfit.
The rumors iFixit referenced had been primarily concerned with the more expensive Watch collections, especially the starts-at-$10,000 18-karat Edition. Because technology improves dramatically, some speculators believed that Apple might make internal-only replacements possible as next-generation wearables appear.
That's not going to happen, at least from the tear-down iFixit conducted today on the lower-priced Sport version.
iFixit blamed what it called a "mess" for its take on upgrading a Watch: Removing the S1 system-on-a-ship (SoC), the Apple-designed processor that drives the device, entailed cutting numerous soldered connections.
"Stripping out the internals will be difficult and time-consuming --- not the sort of thing your local [Apple Store] Genius is equipped to handle, but we suppose Apple could provide a mail-order option," iFixit added.
Even so, the firm awarded the Watch a repair score of 5 -- out of a maximum of 10 -- because of the relative ease with which DIYers can replace the battery, and to a lesser extent the display. "Once you're inside, the battery is quite easy to remove --- only mild adhesive holds it in place," iFixit said.
According to Apple, the Watch battery should retain 80% of its original charge after 1,000 complete charge cycles, or slightly more than three years with full recharging daily. Out-of-warranty battery replacement costs $79.
iFixit's Watch teardown, complete with photographs taken at each step, can be found on the company's website.