Of course repairing the new Apple TV remote is harder than simply unscrewing it

Apple, a company notorious for making its products difficult to repair, has given us a real head-scratcher of a repair situation with its next-generation streaming remote.

At issue here are a pair of screws that would appear to make repair semi-straightforward but absolutely do not. iFixit tore down the second-generation Siri Remote, which will ship with the latest Apple TV 4K streaming box, and found that these two screws on the outside of the remote do basically nothing. Do not, in other words, expect to be able to fix your new remote or its battery easily.

First off, Apple’s new wand features a one-piece aluminum outer casing design — meaning that while minimal and pretty, this thing was probably already going to prove difficult to tinker with. You might think, therefore, that a pair of tiny screws at the bottom of the remote near its charging port would offer easy access to the thing most likely to need to be repaired on this remote: the battery. You would be wrong.

The previous generation of Siri Remote (left) shown next to the newer remote (right). The newer remote has two tiny screws at the bottom. They do nothing.Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Instead, iFixit’s video teardown indicated that the tiny plate that covers its Lightning port — another Siri Remote sin, if I’m being honest — effectively goes nowhere. To get inside the remote, iFixit needed to use a handful of specialized tools to pop off the buttons on the remote, remove more tiny screws and tiny component parts, wriggle the remote’s inner frame out of its aluminum shell, unscrew the logic board from the remote’s skeleton, and finally, pop out the 1.52Wh battery. Oh, and its cables are soldered together with those of the Lightning port, making DIY repairs all the more difficult.

Is the lack of simple repairability on the next-generation Siri Remote entirely surprising? Well, no. Of course not. Repairing the first-generation Siri wand was similarly a whole entire thing. Apple is also notorious for lobbying against right-to-repair legislation, has been shown to be internally conflicted about its own position on the matter, and has used bad-faith arguments to shield itself from criticism about how difficult its products are to fix, particularly where it relates to proprietary component parts and repair instructions.

But for a remote with a rechargeable battery, Apple sure makes it difficult to actually get in there and access one of the things most likely to need replacement down the road. And tricking us with a pair of screws that do little for repairability doesn’t exactly curry favor on the repair front, either.

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