Apple doesn’t like anyone opening up and messing around inside their devices, which is part of the reason why we have non-replaceable iPhone and iPad batteries and plenty of adhesive to stop anyone getting inside. Apple’s latest hardware release, the HomePod smart speaker, appears to be no different.
iFixit did its usual job of acquiring the latest gadget from Apple and taking it apart while documenting the whole process. In the case of the HomePod, it’s bad news for anyone attempting to repair the $350 smart speaker without paying Apple to do so.
Gaining access to the internals of the HomePod is an exercise in patience and heat gunning. In total, Apple sealed the HomePod 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 is 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 are going to buy a HomePod then 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 audio, 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 speakers offered by Amazon and Google. The fact it is almost impossible to repair without paying Apple is another negative against this $350 device.