Tearing Down The Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has been out for nearly a month now, but so far we haven’t seen a good look at the guts of this little metal bauble of electronic jewelry. Lucky for us that a company in China is hard at work poking around inside the Apple Watch and putting up a few incredible SEM images along the way (Google Translatrix).

This isn’t the first Apple Watch teardown that’s hit the intertubes – iFixit tore one apart with spudgers and tiny screwdrivers and found someone skilled in the ways of tiny parts could probably replace the battery in this watch. Shocking for an Apple product, really. iFixit also took a look at the watch with an x-ray, revealing a little bit of the high-level design of the Apple Watch, the Apple S1 computer on a chip, and how all the sensors inside this wearable work.

A side view of a 6-DOF IMU
A side view of a 6-DOF IMU

This teardown uses an incredible amount of very high-tech equipment to peer inside the Apple Watch. Because of this, it’s probably one of the best examples of showing how these tiny sensors actually work. With some very cool images, a 6-DOF IMU is revealed and the Knowles MEMS microphone is shown to be a relatively simple, if very small part.

Now the Apple S1, the tiny 26.15mm x 28.50mm computer on a chip, serves as the brains of the Apple Watch. It’s breathtakingly thin, only 1.16mm, but still handles all the processing in the device.

Even if you won’t be buying this electronic accessory, you’ve got to respect the amazing amount of engineering that went into this tiny metal bauble of semiconductors and sensors.

38 thoughts on “Tearing Down The Apple Watch

  1. Oh, I want one! But not an Apple one! I suppose this means we’re only a couple of years from something just as versatile from competitors. Running Java or something ideally, easily programmed. And then a year after that, endless Chinese clones for 50 quid.

        1. Err, correcting myself. it’s available in: 433/868/915 but the point still remains no BT or wifi capabilities, that’s a bit limiting to make it into an internet/phone-tethered smartwatch.

    1. Buy the Pebble Watch. easily programmed, you dont even have to install the IDE. Lasts 7 days between charging and runs both javascript or native C code.

      Oh and it has heavily outsold all the other smart watches combined for the past 2 years before the apple watch came along.

    2. Then you are in luck. Since apple tends to run 4-6 years behind android, we have been messing with bluetooth dongles you wear on your wrist for years now. We have full phones that fit on your wrist with actual browsing in Chrome. Hell,even 4 years ago things were like 30 bux. I don’t need or want this thing and perhaps you will feel the same way after using it. It is fucking useless without 3g/4g capability. I suppose you will use it for “fitness” which it seems to do well with being a pedometer. To each their own though.

    3. umm…theres loads of smart watches that do the exact same thing as Apple’s, and in some cases more. There just (apparently) not as “designer”.
      Whatsmore, they have been on sale for at least a year, and in some cases longer.

      All the Android ones run Java. Or, at least, Delvik/Java-like whatever.

  2. Never heard of Ifixit. I was hoping for a teardown; the gleeful childhood pleasure of taking stuff apart. But it was all TeeVee-ified. Dead, lifeless, no fun. Is this what happens when teardowns go mainstream? Dave Jones is spinning in his grave.

          1. I’m pretty sure reddit has been leaking again, we need to get this place hipster tight if we are to avoid condescending progressivism, marked by hivemind circle jerking.

            The first step would be to never have an article about an apple product ever again.

  3. Wow, those SEM images show the crazy amount of work that must have gone into making everything as small as possible! I have to admire what Apple has done here, even if I wish we could stay in a world where I can take stuff apart and see how it works/fix it/at least see something other than one giant SoC :P

        1. +1…
          Therein lies the difference between engineers and manufacturers.
          As I like to say, To engineer your part more accurate, all you need is a pencil.
          …Not to belittle engineering, but to instill realism and accuracy as to the truth

  4. I don’t even want one because of my dislike for Apple’s software, but I think this will make the smart watch into a faster growing phenomenon. I still want a Pebble for now, especially since I could program it. I can’t wait to see what the future brings in this category. I feel like there’s a “killer app” on the horizon that will make smart watches a must-have.

    1. I think you are hanging on theverge too much, because nope, there will be no ‘killer app’ on any horizon and the whole watch thing is going to be gone in a not too long a time.

      Even many apple fans who got an a-watch keep it in the closet already rather than wearing it. All waiting for that ‘killer app’.

      1. Until smartphones got it right, people were generally “what’s the point” about them. The same will likely happen with smart watches. Someone will figure out what people actually need on their wrist eventually.

        1. Again the same old argument, but there are many things people tried to get off the ground and it did NOT take, then a few years later another group of people tried, again – nothing.
          Rinse and repeat.

          But sure, one day in the future maybe when they can make it the size of a regular watch and have batteries that last a few months AND find a ‘killer app’ use, then yes, maybe then, in a decade or three.

        2. Stop making them do the same stuff as phones would be a start.
          Play to their strengths. Notifications and such dont need full color displays.

          Pebble has the right idea, but essentially no one else does.

    1. They might as well say since so many reviewers are saying ti’s slow whenever it connects to the phone and needs to load stuff, so giving specs for things like RAM speed and wifi and CPU means that you can impress people when you release version 2, assuming they still think watches are going anywhere and it didn’t bankrupt suppliers that hoped it would take off.

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