Disposable Tech - Airpods Pro (non repairable)

golfnut1982

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Original poster
Oct 12, 2014
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Chicago, IL
Anyone ever think about this before throwing down $250? Just curious about your thoughts...
 
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Duncan68

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Sep 22, 2018
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Anyone ever think about this before throwing down $250? Just curious about your thought...
Yes. It rankles me that one can buy a Sennheiser HD600 or HD650 for about $300 and you will have an audiophile quality headphone that will literally last you 20 years, uses modular construction and can be repaired easily and affordably, or you can buy disposable earphones for $250 with non-replaceable batteries that will be in a landfill in 3 years.

But of course they are different use cases and in the case of the APP, are actually wearable computers that are advancing the state of the art. But Apple are shown to be hypocrites about being environmentally conscientious when they continue to make products with sealed, non-replaceable batteries. And they do it cynically, because they know it will add to their bottom line.
 
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AustinIllini

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Oct 20, 2011
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Yes. It rankles me that one can buy a Sennheiser HD600 or HD650 for about $300 and you will have an audiophile quality headphone that will literally last you 20 years, uses modular construction and can be repaired easily and affordably, or you can buy disposable earphones for $250 with non-replaceable batteries that will be in a landfill in 3 years.

But of course they are different use cases and in the case of the APP, are actually wearable computers that are advancing the state of the art. But Apple are shown to be hypocrites about being environmentally conscientious when they continue to make products with sealed, non-replaceable batteries. And they do it cynically, because they know it will add to their bottom line.
Except the bold is wrong, because you can ship your AirPods back to Apple for recycling.
 

Duncan68

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Sep 22, 2018
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Except the bold is wrong, because you can ship your AirPods back to Apple for recycling.
How many people will actually do that?

And it doesn't matter to me, because you should be able to have a rechargeable button battery in each pod that is replaceable by the user. Solar G-Shock watches use such button batteries that have a lifetime of 10 years and can be replaced.
 

AustinIllini

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Oct 20, 2011
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How many people will actually do that?

And it doesn't matter to me, because you should be able to have a rechargeable button battery in each pod that is replaceable by the user. Solar G-Shock watches use such button batteries that have a lifetime of 10 years and can be replaced.
Doesn't matter. If Apple will recycle AirPods, they're not hypocrites.
 
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Duncan68

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Sep 22, 2018
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Meh, batteries die. Nothing anyone can do about that.
Apple, if it had the will, could design their devices with user replaceable batteries. It doesn't because it knows it makes more money the way it is. They don't care that that's bad for the environment.
 

Abazigal

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Jul 18, 2011
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Apple, if it had the will, could design their devices with user replaceable batteries. It doesn't because it knows it makes more money the way it is. They don't care that that's bad for the environment.
There’s also the possibility that doing so would compromise the design of the device.

I am also willing to bet that most people are not going to bother changing the batteries in their AirPods either. Most already don’t see to do so with existing wireless headphones, so why would they do so for AirPods?
 

golfnut1982

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Original poster
Oct 12, 2014
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Chicago, IL
From what I've seen, recycling really means 95% in the dump. Those things literally have to be ripped apart to get at the battery. So a tiny battery is recycled and the rest disposed of. Not sure what so special about that.
 
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nickdalzell1

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Dec 8, 2019
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Not to mention the costs of manufacturing new ones to keep the cycle going. Consumerism is going to destroy the planet if we don't curb it somehow.

I really miss the days when folks bought a single car for their entire lives, kept a TV for 30+ years until it actually broke, had appliances that often outlived the house, and so on. We did quite well then, and no businesses were closing up shop either, since good long-lasting stuff made for good business and customer relations.

Sadly these days the kids who buy this stuff don't care if the company is screwing them over (they keep buying from them) and the marketing teaches us that phones, TVs, etc are commodities and fashion accessories designed to be tossed and replaced every year or so, despite the older items not being inoperative. Can't be seen in public with an iPhone 3GS oh no!

As RadioTVphononut has been all too kind to say, the mark of quality of today's tech is "Made in China"
 
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japanime

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I really miss the days when folks bought a single car for their entire lives, kept a TV for 30+ years until it actually broke, had appliances that often outlived the house, and so on. We did quite well then, and no businesses were closing up shop either, since good long-lasting stuff made for good business and customer relations.
I hear and agree with you. But we all can choose different battles and still be responsible.

For instance, my wife and I have been driving the same Toyota for 17 years, and it was a used car when we bought it. We recently replaced our 15-year-old TV, but only after it simply stopped working and the repair center said replacement parts were no longer available. And our microwave oven is going on 30 years old! (Sometimes I wonder if it's leaking more radiation than is safe, though!)

So, I don't feel particularly guilty for having replaced my 20-year-old Etymotic ER4s (whose second cable replacement had finally given up the ghost) with a pair of AirPods. 😅
 
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nickdalzell1

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Dec 8, 2019
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I decided to stop buying anything new. I bought a plethora of Apple gear in late 2019 because Apple usually = longevity (Got a working iPhone 4 and PowerBook G4 to prove it). But that's it. I know how to repair stuff and I take care of everything.

My Saturn ION is 2005, my Honda Ridgeline a 2006. No intention of 'upgrading' to one of those touch-screen 'smart' cars they all make today that I often find in the junkyard with a little over 100K miles on them (usually a blown engine or transmission or some 'thing' that went offline)

I got a Zenith Digital System 3 30" Color TV in the garage in an alcove I use when working out there, that was manufactured in 1988 and has never seen a repair once. It was of course Made in USA.

I got a lot of newer stuff but I research and take good care of it. I have an intention of never having anything newer than 2019 in my home. A challenge I've wanted to make since I got fed up with consumerism and seeing what it's doing.

No intent of ever buying airpods. I still got a set of 80s headphones that work fine that I have been plugging into an old MP3 Player Micro-Tablet running Android 2.2 (I found it in one of my storage bins, battery still holds charge, and it has 450 songs on it.) during my walks.

There's a Consumer Mall in town that despite its name is more or less catering to the vintage electronics/furniture set and if I ever need anything in the future that's where I'll go.
 
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japanime

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I have an intention of never having anything newer than 2019 in my home. A challenge I've wanted to make since I got fed up with consumerism and seeing what it's doing.
That's a noble goal, and (depending on one's age) quite possibly attainable. I don't think I'd ever be that disciplined. But as I close in on retirement age, I definitely find myself wanting and needing a lot less "new" stuff. Plus, the money not spent on device upgrades can be spent on music and books, dining out, vacations and, perhaps, the eventual grandkids :)

Still, the wire-free AirPods have been a delight to use during my workouts, and well-worth the price.
 

Otflyer

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Nov 14, 2017
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Yes. It rankles me that one can buy a Sennheiser HD600 or HD650 for about $300 and you will have an audiophile quality headphone that will literally last you 20 years, uses modular construction and can be repaired easily and affordably, or you can buy disposable earphones for $250 with non-replaceable batteries that will be in a landfill in 3 years.

But of course they are different use cases and in the case of the APP, are actually wearable computers that are advancing the state of the art. But Apple are shown to be hypocrites about being environmentally conscientious when they continue to make products with sealed, non-replaceable batteries. And they do it cynically, because they know it will add to their bottom line.
Apple is only one of many companies pumping out disposable tech.
- - Post merged: - -

Not to mention the costs of manufacturing new ones to keep the cycle going. Consumerism is going to destroy the planet if we don't curb it somehow.

I really miss the days when folks bought a single car for their entire lives, kept a TV for 30+ years until it actually broke, had appliances that often outlived the house, and so on. We did quite well then, and no businesses were closing up shop either, since good long-lasting stuff made for good business and customer relations.

Sadly these days the kids who buy this stuff don't care if the company is screwing them over (they keep buying from them) and the marketing teaches us that phones, TVs, etc are commodities and fashion accessories designed to be tossed and replaced every year or so, despite the older items not being inoperative. Can't be seen in public with an iPhone 3GS oh no!

As RadioTVphononut has been all too kind to say, the mark of quality of today's tech is "Made in China"
Cars that last a life time, Tv’s 30+ yrs, appliances that outlived the house. I’m over 70 yrs old and don’t remember that.
 
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Erehy Dobon

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Feb 16, 2018
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From what I've seen, recycling really means 95% in the dump. Those things literally have to be ripped apart to get at the battery. So a tiny battery is recycled and the rest disposed of. Not sure what so special about that.
Recycling isn't just batteries, paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastic bottles. That's the simplistic viewpoint that a lot of naïve people have based on their very limited view of recycling which is solely based from a consumer viewpoint.

Different electronics manufacturers will attempt different ways to recoup more material than just the simple ones like plastic or aluminum.

I believe Apple publishes an annual report on its green efforts. Apple even has given a recycling robot a name to highlight its e-waste recycling efforts. You may wish to read this document at some point.

Where I live, there are several options for e-waste recycling. I know at least one actually employs people to remove chips and other electronics components from circuit boards for processing.

In any case, using Apple's e-waste recycling program is a far more responsible approach than just handing it off to your waste management provider or a local government agency.

Note that many of the electronics donation programs (like "Cellphones For Troops") actually do the same thing: disassemble the devices. The reusable components or ones with materials that have post-consumer use (like precious metals, some plastics) are sold to processors who offer money for those items. That's what funds the charity. It's not like they're going to a smashed up iPhone 6 to some US Army corporal in Afghanistan.

Hell, if you buy a pair of $50 earbuds from some other company, there's much less likelihood of the manufacturer offering a free recycling program.

Returning back to the AirPods Pro. I was skeptical about the value of a $250 pair of earbuds but I knew there was a 14-day no-questions-asked return policy.

The Active Noise Cancellation of the APP are a game changer. I realize their batteries will probably be spent in a couple of years but for me, they are totally worth it.

Right now am using them at home but not listening to any music. The landscape crew is walking outside my unit with their leafblowers and I can barely hear them. They could be right outside my front door but it would sound like they are two hundred yards away. Totally worth it.
 
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japanime

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Cars that last a life time, Tv’s 30+ yrs, appliances that outlived the house. I’m over 70 yrs old and don’t remember that.
Well, I do still have a microwave oven that's been alive and cookin' since before Sting sang about 'em in the Dire Straits song "Money For Nothing" back in 1985. 😅
 

vinegarshots

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Sep 24, 2018
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Yes. It rankles me that one can buy a Sennheiser HD600 or HD650 for about $300 and you will have an audiophile quality headphone that will literally last you 20 years, uses modular construction and can be repaired easily and affordably, or you can buy disposable earphones for $250 with non-replaceable batteries that will be in a landfill in 3 years.

But of course they are different use cases and in the case of the APP, are actually wearable computers that are advancing the state of the art. But Apple are shown to be hypocrites about being environmentally conscientious when they continue to make products with sealed, non-replaceable batteries. And they do it cynically, because they know it will add to their bottom line.
To have a user replaceable battery in the Airpods, they would have to add structural components to the existing design to hold the battery (like a bracket, with electrical contacts, etc). Then you need to add some kind of compartment on the outside that can open and close to access the battery (which requires hinges, clips, or some other mechanical elements). There's just no way to add all that without increasing the size of the Airpods to the point where no one would want to wear them.
 

Mw0103

macrumors regular
Feb 22, 2014
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I do not understand the outrage here. Hardly anything we buy now is repairable. And by and large, everything we buy and use is worlds better than the products from the “good old days.”

Cars are harder to work on yourself, but they also require very little maintenance compared to 30+ years ago. Prior to the 1980s, one had to adjust timing, carry spare points for the distributor in the trunk, replace spark plugs every 25,000 miles, and a car was a money pit (and pretty well used up) by 100,000 miles. Even 10 years ago, front brake pads were needed every 30,000 miles or so. Now? My current cars are 2014 and 2015 model year. Both have almost 90,000 miles on them. All they’ve needed is oil changes every 10,000 miles, transmission fluid exchange at 60,000 miles, and one needed tires. Neither has needed brake pads. It’s extraordinary.

Appliances are better, more energy efficient, and more compact. That Frigidaire icebox in my grandparents’ basement from the 1950s—sure it still ran, but you had to defrost it a couple of times a year, it used electricity like it was going out of style, and (due to the four-inch thick walls) it held half as much as a modern refrigerator. Dishwashers get dishes cleaner without having to pre-wash while using a fraction of the water and energy. Washing machines hold more and use less water and detergent. Etc. etc. And their life span is still measured in decades.

Our best TV growing up was a 27” non-HD mono set that weighed 30 pounds. For our wedding, my wife and I got a 32” flat screen CRT Sony, which was really a nice TV for the time. Still no HD. Weighed so much it took two people to lift it. And it cost as much in 2005 as a 65” 4K flat panel smart TV costs today (not even accounting for inflation). TVs did not last decades. There is a reason the broken console TV with a TV sitting on top of it is a 1970s and 1980s joke—it’s because many of those old console TVs broke within the first 10 years and were too expensive to repair, and many people experienced the console being re-purposed as a stand for the new TV (or in some cases one TV worked for sound, and the other worked for picture).

As for replaceable batteries? What are people using that has replaceable off-the-shelf batteries? Remotes, flashlights, and hearing aids is about the extent of it. Why? Because a modern cell phone, laptop, or cordless drill would use so many Duracells it would be comical—both the rate at which you’d have to replace and also the weight and size of the device. And, yes; my cordless tools have removable batteries (more because one needs to swap and keep going with tools, and charging takes some time). Those batteries, when they die (and they do die before the actual tool) cost as much or more to replace than simply buying a new tool with new batteries.

We live in a disposable consumer society because it’s less expensive, more convenient, and allows the products to do more with more efficiency than the “good old days.” That is just the way it is. Anyone who would rather watch a tiny SD TV, drive an old car, use wired headphones, and carry around 6-pound laptops because of their principles is welcomed to. It’s your life and your money. But let’s not romanticize the “good old days.”

The reality is that everything is a compromise, and repairability requires compromise in design and utility that the marketplace has seemingly deemed unnecessary and undesirable. We don’t need a return to the old days—we need new solutions to the problems of depletion of resources and disposal of trash.
 
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Daniel James

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Sep 24, 2019
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I have some generation 1 AirPods and I do think that once they’re broken and no longer work I may not go back. I love them, super useful for my use case but I too think about how wasteful it is and the price doesn’t help either.
 
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Duncan68

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Sep 22, 2018
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To have a user replaceable battery in the Airpods, they would have to add structural components to the existing design to hold the battery (like a bracket, with electrical contacts, etc). Then you need to add some kind of compartment on the outside that can open and close to access the battery (which requires hinges, clips, or some other mechanical elements). There's just no way to add all that without increasing the size of the Airpods to the point where no one would want to wear them.
You make good points. However, I think a company of Apple's wealth and engineering talent, if they had the will, could figure out how to use replaceable batteries if they really wanted to. However, making AirPods disposable aligns with them making more money, so they don't do it.

Don't get me wrong-- am I also a hypocrite because I went ahead and bought the AirPods Pro (and I also own AirPods Gen 1)? Of course I am. If enough people didn't buy them because they were bad for the environment, Apple would quickly change course. I am part of the problem, too.
 

maflynn

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Cars are harder to work on yourself, but they also require very little maintenance compared to 30+ years ago
The difference is that with cars and appliances you still can repair them. Worth Apple products is less about repair and more about replace, I.e., disposable
 

Erehy Dobon

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Feb 16, 2018
539
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The difference is that with cars and appliances you still can repair them.
Yes, but even that has changed over the past few decades.

If a bushing in an alternator in a 30-year-old car went kaput, you'd just replace the bushing.

In today's cars, the typical alternator doesn't have any serviceable parts. You just replace the entire alternator. A lot of car parts are sealed assemblies/modules these days.

In many cases, a newer appliance will have lower energy consumption. You don't want to fix a 30-year-old refrigerator even if you are willing to pay some repairman $100-200 to do it.

My refrigerator is going on its eleventh year. Even though it is still running fine, at some point I will probably replace it before it dies, simply for the lower electrical consumption. Not only is that better for my wallet in the long run, it's better for the environment.

Sometimes devices gain new features. Yeah, you could have someone fix your Sony 20" Trinitron CRT TV from 1993, but it's an electricity hog, has standard definition imaging, and won't tune any TV stations.

Just because you CAN repair something doesn't necessarily make it the wisest course of action.
 
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