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  • Writer's pictureFrederick Dopfel

Apple Watch Repair

I have been a user of the Apple watch since Series 1, and as a quantified-self nerd, I love having continuous step and heart rate data always available to me. However, in recent months I noticed something odd about my trusty Series 1: There was a growing gap between the touchscreen and the case.

This is caused by battery bulge, a problem that I had encountered before in my Surface Pro, and one that could have serious consequences, including catching fire or exploding. Naturally, as this is a safety issue and a known design flaw of the early Apple Watches, I brought it in for a quick battery swap / repair. Surely a luxury consumer electronics company that prides itself on service and support would want to avoid a PR disaster of a person getting third degree burns from one of its products (Like Samsung's exploding Galaxy Notes). Instead they quoted a battery swap at $200, the same price as an entirely new Apple Watch.

Aside: I love Apple products. However, I have had 4 very expensive apple devices fail in the past 6 months, not from misuse or damage, but as a result of internal hardware failures from poor design choices. Apple likes to brag about being eco-friendly, but in all but one case, the cost of a simple repair (like fixing the butterfly-switch keyboard) exceeded the cost of a brand new device. Charging exorbitant repair costs as a way to push users to AppleCare+ or to buy new products is a great way to kill customer loyalty. AppleCare+ is a rip off, by the way: Charging $80/year for the ability to service a $10 battery after 5 years is insane. Perhaps Apple should follow some of its own advice and focus on product, rather than sales and accounting tricks.*

Rather than burn a pile of cash on a repair, or throw a nearly-functional watch in the trash, I decided to try to repair it on my own. Using pieces of my ifixit kit, I removed the screen, and found the battery.

Removing the battery was tricky because of the glue used, but with gently prying (careful not to damage the mainboard), I was able to remove it. A quick swap with the replacement battery (a little tricky to attach and detach due to the extremely delicate ribbon cables), and the watch was fully functional again! The entire process took less than 5 minutes, and I had saved $190 and weeks of shipping. Granted, the new battery arrived discharged, and required some time to charge up to a usable state, but regardless. This was a easy, fast, and fun repair.

*Note: My criticisms of Apple policy are my own and not a reflection of my employer, CPPIB America

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