Not long after its announcement last week, Kyle Wiens of iFixIt disassembled one of Apple’s new Retina MacBook Pros and wrote at Wired.com that “the display is fused to the glass, which means replacing the LCD requires buying an expensive display assembly. The RAM is now soldered to the logic board — making future memory upgrades impossible. And the battery is glued to the case.” His conclusion was that it’s “the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart.”
This has sparked some debate on both the customer friendliness and environmental responsibility of this kind of manufacturing, There’s no denying that the Retina MacBook Pro is clearly not built for user-serviceable repair or upgrade. Obviously, it follows the same path that Apple has taken with its products over the past decade-plus; from the iPod to the iPhone to the MacBook Air to the iPad, Apple hardware has become less and less accessible over time.
Economics v. Legacy
It would be pretty hard to make a reasonable business-based argument that Apple should retreat from this approach, though. The common wisdom is that few customers ever repair or upgrade their laptops themselves (or even turn to third-party services for repairs or upgrades); following this logic, you could say that these products are more efficient — and arguably more environmentally friendly — production designs than the highly-customizable machines that used to be the norm. Even if it weren’t true, Apple has pretty convincingly demonstrated that consumers do not object to these kinds of devices. That’s putting it mildly.
Move beyond the immediate economic question, though, and you’ll uncover what I think is one of the biggest shortcomings of Apple’s recent design legacy: this stuff just isn’t made to last. Several times a year, Apple rolls out hardware products that are, in terms of pure design smarts and innovation, leagues beyond what their competitors are capable of. Their machines are more beautiful, better built and, admittedly, longer-lasting than just about any other high tech hardware out there. But if the durability of, say, a Dell laptop is two or three years, and if Apple’s hardware improves on that two or even three times, it’s still not doing that much better than the mean. What would be really impressive is an iPod or iPhone that lasts for decades.
This is the age we’re in now, though. Even before Steve Jobs began his second stint at Apple, it was already true that most technology hardware was becoming cheaper to discard than to repair or upgrade. But now, thanks in part to Apple’s influence and success, we’ve internalized that way of thinking about products so well that we don’t really want hardware that’s capable of lasting more than two or three years. By the time a laptop reaches its third birthday, most of us start thinking about its replacement.
To me, the most disappointing thing about this is that, as beautiful as objects in this mode can be, over time they inevitably begin to look worse than they did on the day they were purchased. Some objects look better when you use them more, but not Apple stuff. Every scratch, scuff, ding and crack serves to alienate us a little bit further from the hardware we own, and to make us yearn a bit more for the newer, more pristine hardware we have yet to buy. (I wrote about this concept back in 2007.) That’s a great business strategy but it’s not a great design legacy, to say nothing of its sustainability. Apple gets a lot of kudos for how beautiful its hardware looks today, but in the long run, it may be judged as much for how ephemeral it is too.
Follow-up, 20 June 2012
Be sure to read the follow-up post to this one that I wrote to elaborate on my argument.
I think Apple builds its products to last just about as long as the latest OS will run on it. (My 2008 Mac Pro desktop runs the latest Lion, but how long will that last? Its days are surely numbered.)
A Mac that lasts decades will be running decades-old software, and Apple is all about dragging people kicking and screaming into the present, if not the future.
But I’d love Apple products that age gracefully — remember those old metal-body SLR cameras that developed a lot of “brassing” over the years? Gorgeous! And a subtle hint that the owner was a serious photographer:
Joe: that kind of brassing is just what I’m talking about. An object that looks better after use is a much better design than an object that starts to look worse after use.
Anyway, it may not make sense for a laptop to work for decades, but why not? Or, to take a simpler example, why shouldn’t an iPod continue to work ten years later? I had an 40GB iPod photo that died in 2009 for no other reason than it just wasn’t built to last much longer than that. I’d still be using it today if it still worked.
It must cost more to make a laptop that lasts a lot longer. There’s always a tradeoff. how many people want to pay that premium?
But here at home, the four of us have a little pile of old iPods that no longer hold a charge — and it’s simply not worth it to pay for a battery exchange, if that’s even offered any more on those old models.
A computer that lasts a decade? I can understand the environmental reason why but really, would you go back and use what you were using ten years ago? No, not even if if it was brand new. Things get much faster and bigger and lighter *and the software gets bigger and bigger at about the same rate). A ten year old computer would be nearly useless.
It seems that any device that has a computer in it suffers this same fate. The timelines change, but the end result is that the computer becomes obsolete and too expensive to repair.
Case in point: My grandfather has a 60s caddilac and 70s pontiac that still run flawlessly. He’s worked on them himself. He’s had to do some major work once in a while, but they still are in great condition and he’s still driving them (at 90 no less). Modern engines are almost impossible to work on without a full lift and an engine block crane and training. The “computer” tells you what’s wrong, then you look up the code, and then figure out if the part is even serviceable. I saw an image comparison yesterday that showed a 1980s mercedes engine compared to a modern engine. The modern engine is completely enclosed, almost as to say “this is not for you to touch.”
What happens when there’s a computer in your refrigerator? Are you going to bother to fix it when it breaks, or just get a new refrigerator? I love old refrigerators. They’ve got a cool vibe to them. But if they had a computer attached, how many of us would bother replacing the tubes, or trying to find a replacement for that burnt out chip?
Tangentially, how much of the interaction that helps age things (e.g. the brassing Joe mentioned) is actually on a screen and not part of the mechanical workings of the device? You don’t get those wear patterns on glass. Newer apps won’t run on the older internals.
I’d love to see some kind of hardware age gracefully, but outside of JJ Abrams paying homage to my 1990s high school days with a 14.4 modem dialup tone in his new tv show, I’m not sure we’ll see a widespread culture around permanence in design.
Everything is no ephemeral, from clothing to computers to cars (lease programs, anyone?) to architecture. And that is a bummer.
I think the one exception to this may be the iPod classic. While it’s not even close to pushing a decade yet. It is almost 3 years old now and they still sell them brand new in Apple stores. That has got to be some kind of record for Apple products. The chasis of the iPod Classics are not polished (like the iPod Touch) but brushed so they don’t look trashed just weeks after owning one. Also, the HDD can even be replaced!
I like to pretend Apple feels guilty about designing for planned obsolescence, but there is just too much to gain with their momentum in the hardware market. Maybe once they’re far enough ahead of the competition they will make a sweeping change in their approach to hardware manufacturing.
This all sounds really great… until you bring in the context of the product you are speaking of. Even if a computer was designed today to age well aesthetically, do you think anyone will actually be using it in 10 years? No. That is unless you’re running a 10 year old software.
I agree with the concept.
I would guess things like camera lenses and watches would fit in the worn look for technology.
My Mum still uses her circa 2004 Canon Powershot. My Dad’s 2003 model died last year.
I use an early 90s Minolta 50mm AF lens. Many people now old MF lenses for use with Micro Four Thirds cameras, especially the retro ones like the Olympus OMD and Pens.
There are now cameras like the Fuji X10 and X100 that I wouldn’t be suprised would look better with some wear. I would also imagine the more ruggid cameras would look the part far better with some some signs of action.
As for computers, yeah its gotten worse. The non-lead solder in particular leads to a lot of broken laptops. My sister’s lasting only 18 months each time.
I am appalled that so many new phones from HTC and Sony have fixed batteries and no SD card slot.
I guess most design that works well with wear tends to have an air of practicality about it. The signs of action enhance it’s prestige.
I guess that’s why all the Avengers’ equipment in the intro looked like it had been through the fight.
I don’t need computers to last forever, but I have found consistently that I can get 3 to 5 years of useful life out of most Apple hardware I’ve purchased. But that’s been because I can add RAM and upgrade storage. The hardware might not be my production machine longer than 2-3 years, but it’s still useful. I know Apple has been nudging us in this direction with ipods, iphones and ipads, and I’ve accepted that these lower value items were to some extent disposable eventually. It’s quite a jump to regard a $2K+ laptop as a throwaway. A bad trend environmentally and socially (as John above has pointed out very well)
I have 3 apple products at the moment. A 24″imac relatively new and my main computer, an Ipod touch 2nd generation and a Black MacBook 13 inch remember those?
My hardware works fine but I will be forced to dump it because of OS incompatibilities.
My laptop works pretty well on Snow Leopard and I don’t need to upgrade to Lion (I am a graphic designer by the way). Only about a year ago I decided to upgrade the RAM to the max possible and I could feel the “refresh”, which was great and I could continue using it if it wasn’t because slowly I am being forced to upgrade the operating system which means getting a new laptop as well because this one won’t be able to run the new OS.
With the iPod is the same story. Maybe I was lucky but this 16GB iPod touch has no battery issues and I have been using Gelaskins on it and every time I change them I am amazed by the fact that the back of the machine has no scratches at all. For some time now I have been stuck in the “dark ages” of the iOS 4 because I can’t upgrade it further. So no new apps for about a year and a half now. Nevertheless I managed with it but I don’t think that I can keep using it like this and its a very big shame, having to throw away a working machine.
I care deeply about the environment and I think that while these production strategies bring excellent commercial benefit in the short term, the long term of our planet looks bleak.
It’s a worrying trend, and one of the major reasons I don’t buy Apple products. I built my desktop, carefully selecting each component that went into it, down to the fans.
I’ve gradually upgraded the core hardware, but it still runs a 4 year old processor and a 3 year old graphics card, and they are sufficient for everything I throw at it – especially now that I’ve addressed the main bottleneck with a SSD for my OS. I could never give up building my own tools – I appreciate that it’s not the same for everyone, but if people disagree with what Apple are doing the only way to change it is to vote with their wallets.
I totally agree with you, Khoi.
I have nowadays 4 Apple computers at home.
Both my PowerBook G4 (Aluminum) from 2003 and 20″ iMac G5 from 2005 work like a charm, except for the obvious software limitations.
My current working station, an iMac 22″ (late 2008) shows several long shades of black accross the screen when in white/soft background (images or whatever) since its second anniversary.
My Macbook Pro 15″ (late 2009) started to go white screened from time to time (like a fade-out) since the beginning of 2012.
So WHAT? Are we buying expensive machines to last just for two and a half years? Seems like it is. Product quality is just getting worse.
OK, yeah, the software thing… I could do 99.9% of my job on CS2, but Adobe keep on selling crappy upgrades year after year. Then there is the OS and so on.
Speed. That’s the answer. Couldn’t we get that extra speed by just upgrading the hardware at a reasonable price? Obviously, NO.
My country is in recession, so am I. Even if I can afford changing my equipment every two and a half years, it drives me mad, this is wrong.
I purchased the original unibody MacBook Pro—the one that came out in 2008—and it’s still going very strong.
Immensely torn on the next generation MBP because two things: inability to upgrade the RAM and being forced to use the latest super-flawed iteration of Mac OS X.
8GB and even 16GB of RAM will not be enough. It is the only thing I’ve needed to upgrade on my current MBP twice to keep up, and each time the upgrade was less than $60. Apple’s price for more RAM at the customization screen has always been objectively outrageous, but this time you don’t have a choice, and that feels like a smack in the face.
The SSD, on the other hand, feels very fine as more and more of my work is offloaded into the net somewhere, and all my digital entertainment is streamable or re-downloadable at any time. No worries there.
Something I needed to have repaired on my ’08 MBP was very familiar to one of the complaints about the latest and greatest “retina” MBP: the entire screen assembly, because dust was getting trapped between the glass and the LCD. That was covered by the warranty. I needed to replace the original battery which started to physical bulge after almost three years of nonstop use. That was no big deal, though; I simply bought a new one, popped the no-longer-in-production battery/harddrive compartment open on the unibody, and replaced it. These two experiences seemed to balance out each other, but how I’ll feel about handing my computer over to Apple for everything if this new trend persistsЁ well, that will be weird.
As for OS X Lion, every time I begin to use it I just fill up with this slowly burning rage. I hate how things were ported from iOS in the most cow-headed way imaginable, hate the App Store and all it represents, I hate how floppy and useless Mission Control is compared to the original Exposж and Spaces, and right on down to other interface changes (I want to eradicate that metal linen texture from the face of creation). But I love Mac OS X; the subpixel antialiasing of text on screen, the file system, the myriad ways I can organize things and pare stuff down to the essentials, and the colorful icons peppered throughout. Lion’s injection of iOS stuff (stuff that third-party applications handled way better before it came along) ruins the silent harmony present in Leopard and Snow Leopard.
Wow, rant over. Sorry.
The only thing that feels pretty future proof is “dat retina screen.” It’s so future proof that almost nothing we use right now can interface with that screen harmoniously—have you seen how shitty every image on the web looks on that thing? Even the beloved, stock Lucida Sans looks like an ill-match for the mega sharpness of the display. But I feel like it is the future, that more and more interfaces will be vector based, that images will scaled fluidly no matter the device, and we (designers) will be exploring an entirely new frontier of digital typography soon enough.
What a conflicted device. The only choice for me is to wait.
Inability to repair computers at home is only one factor that leads to new tech becoming junk. It’s not even a particularly important one.
It seems to me people are confusing cause and effect. So-called “planned obsolescence” may be great business, but it’s a by-product of how computers work. Not the cause for products to be designed as they are.
The reason we don’t run 20 year old computers isn’t because we all have fickle taste and disregard for the environment. It’s because we would have no way of communicating with anyone else around us. We live in a networked world. The mixing of hardware and software conspires to make every single person upgrade periodically, because at some point every single other person does.
I agree that all the waste in energy and materials is a shame, but I don’t understand why anyone is pretending this is a new issue. This is a continuation of what has been going on since the advent of the PC several decades ago.
In short: it’s complicated. Let’s stop pretending it’s a conspiracy.
“The common wisdom is that few customers ever repair or upgrade their laptops themselves (or even turn to third-party services for repairs or upgrades);”
i don’t know a single apple user that didn’t upgrade at least _some_ part of at least one of their computers, and using 3rd party vendor parts no less (recent users that own only iOS devices don’t count).
“Even if it weren’t true, Apple has pretty convincingly demonstrated that consumers do not object to these kinds of devices. That’s putting it mildly.”
that’s a Fallacy of Division — you assume that since Apple devices, as a package (or “experience”) are successful and evidently what people prefer, it must mean that users like every aspect of them. i don’t know a single iphone owner that likes how fragile the back glass is, or a single mac user that doesn’t wish replaceable/cheaper/longer lasting batteries.
JACK NELSON: “A ten year old computer would be nearly useless.”
old PC computers from enterprises and businesses are recycled, repaired, and resold to 3rd world countries. this even happens more than once sometimes:
I don’t think it’s planned obsolescence. It’s just that when the weakest link of a computer dies, the rest of the computer goes with it. With our current technology, the weakest link is the battery.
I do agree with the idea of aging gracefully though. And while Apple hardware is guilty in that respect, at least it has a timeless aesthetic.
I currently use a MacBook Air, iPhone 4S and iPad (3rd gen). But every piece of Apple hardware I’ve bought still works, still looks gorgeous, and is still in use by members of the family: iPod classic (2006), MacBook (2008), iPod touch (2008), iPhone 3GS, iPad (1st gen).
I think it’s unreasonable to expect software updates for older tech, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to continue using them for years after they’re supported. Just because it doesn’t support the latest software doesn’t mean it’s not useful!
I imagine Paul Hawken (The Ecology of Commerce), Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, or Ray Anderson of Interface might have a lot to say about this (or had a lot to say in the case of Anderson now that’s he has passed.) Hawken’s contention is that every problem like this we encounter boils down to how we live. Business should be responsible for “what it takes, what it makes, and what it wastes.” Apple could be accused of being irresponsible in each of those categories, but so could just about every other business on the planet.
Still, like you I’m disappointed in Apple and its ever-growing design legacy. For all that it has done and continues to do for design, there is that much more that it could do and some might say *should* do. If we examine the way we live (Chouinard’s mantra of “living an examined life”) and determine that we value restoration and longevity– things that last– we’ll design products to meet the needs of our lives in ways that prioritize those outcomes. Until we do, it’s not surprising to me that we make things either that don’t last, or that don’t have some kind of ability to be restored or repurposed. We live in a disposable culture, so that’s what we get.
It’s interesting to note the support periods on devices, and what that says about the manufacturer’s intended lifespan of that product. When my G5 was 3.5 years old, I ordered two new hard disks for it. Why? Because the manufacturer’s warranty is 3 years. That means they are not prepared to promise their goods will function after that period. If they’re not comfortable that their data storage will last after that, I won’t chance my data on there. There are options, with enterprise drives, for 5 or 7 years of warranty, which is reflected in the quality and price of those enterprise goods.
So, my G5, with 3 years’ Applecare, is still going strong. If it dies tomorrow, it will be replaced. Would I blow $5,000 next time? No. I knew the G5 would last at least 5 years. Now, with non-replaceable parts, the devices are only useful for the life of their warranty. If a retina MBP has a fault, it must go back to Apple. If the RAM you ordered is not enough, tough. But they only expect it to last 3 years. After that, you buy a new one if it fails.
I actually have no problem with that. My wife’s computer is a Macbook Air. At $1,600 I think 3 years is realistic. The difference is that I will no longer spend more than $3,000 on an Apple computer if it can’t ge upgraded, because their warranty says it’s only good for that long.
This is probably better for Apple – they’ll get less cash out of me, but more frequently. That G5 lasted 7 years so far, and they only got the price of a Leopard upgrade out of me in all that time.
Well, it’s not like we don’t know that when apple has come out with products, they’ve had upgraded already avaloble..?!
It’s cause of this stupid but economic law made in the 20s about expiration date and how evarything has to be replased faster and faster for the economy to grow, is it just now that we are realysing that this might be an mistake? A foot up our own buts?!?
This consumer society we live is was driving demand for “the new” before Apple made products the whole world wanted. If Apple stops and makes “The Last iPhone You’ll Ever Need To Own” it will be discarded in three years for the next new X brand that is the fashion in 3 years time.
Apple isn’t causing everyone to throw away their new gadget every six months for a new one; that was happening long before the whole world knew Apple.
If we take your argument about using your iPod for ten years I could use the same argument for my Sony Walkman. Do I need an ipod to replace my Walkman? No! Does it have the same reliability as current Apple products? Most likely (I’ve had a few that have broken and have two that are still going. But like that’s a real benchmark!). Then what drove me to “upgrade”? Innovation.
” Some objects look better when you use them more, but not Apple stuff. ” — what’s missing from your post is an example of relevant consumer products that get better with use.
It’s the exponential nature of Moore’s Law in play. As long as significant components of an object are necessarily improving at an exponential rate, failing to design the rest of the object to be in harmony with this dynamic would be thoughtless and irresponsible on behalf of the designer.
Much better (for performance, efficiency, and sustainability) to make that object easy to fully breakdown, and utilise those materials in the construction of new objects. Given Apple’s significant use of aluminium and glass, this seems to me exactly what it does.
“Several times a year”?
It’s funny though. The Apple G5 PowerMac is still the most beautiful case I’ve ever seen. I have one standing in the office, with no guts what-so-ever. I just like looking at it.
Same thing goes with my 3 year old MacBook Air. I never use it, and my girlfriend has mostly taken over all and every use of it, but when I could just swap the old HDD for a brand new SSD, it became a brand new machine. It was just as usable as before, and I don’t see my girlfriend letting go of it in the near future.
It bothers me, that Apple is letting go of this sort of freedom. Just look at their recent lackluster update of the Mac Pro. It’s like the upgradable hardware – you know, the “Pro” hardware – has been taking a back step. Maybe it’s inevitable, but it doesn’t take away from the sadness of it all.
The Oatmeal: What it’s like to own an Apple product.
Really, we shouldn’t expect a company to build things that last because that means they sell less things. And truthfully, the only thing they care about is selling more things. That’s their job.
What needs to happen is consumers must demand better, longer-lasting products, otherwise companies will continue to make things that are “just good enough” so they can continue to take your money with greater frequency. Stop replacing your phone every 2 years! I had my original iPhone for 5 years until I just gave it up and I was really sad to do so. Our culture of consumerism is a problem. Our strange desire to have the latest gadgets when our old ones do the job just fine is incredibly problematic.
Best quote on this page : “Even if I can afford changing my equipment every two and a half years, it drives me mad, this is wrong.” Very true indeed.
we should look away from “business objectives” and yada, yada, ya..
It’s just wrong, no matter how shiny and “aesthetic” etc.. It’s the world, the planet we’re dumping full of un-updateable, unrepairable, obsoletestuff.. which leaves no option than “dump it and buy another one”
And it’s not only Apple, but they’ve just taken it a step further
It’s a cultural and psychological problem. I had my share of iphones and nexus’s and the likes but I still own a Psion 5mx to manage personal notes and documents because no single gadget on the market, either smartphone, tablet, netbook, laptop or the likes has merged portability and the quality of that fantastic psion keyboard and OS. Yes, it’s 11 years old. And never broke down. So?
The problem here is that there’s no reasonable proposal for making these products last longer. The hardware isn’t capable of running the software of the future, and it’s the software that people really want. Maybe someday we’ll reach a point where improved hardware simply doesn’t offer that much of a performance improvement, so that old hardware is capable of running software released years after. But until that point, it seems hardware will continue to last only a few years.
Instead of a discussion of extending the useful life of hardware, I’d rather discuss ways to reduce the amount of electronics waste we produce, how we can drastically increase the proportion of electronic components and materials that get reused in future hardware and don’t end up in a landfill.
Joe, I fully agree with your comment on the durability of Apple Device. I brought an Apple iPod Touch not too long ago, just after average use of it, I was horrified to see the amount of scratches on the Chrome Quote back of the iPod, it became so horrific, that I was forced to buy a back cover. Aren’t iPod devices meant to be used extensively? or has it been designed so that we have to buy an case or a cover for it.
I think the Mac Pro “tower” can be fairly long lasting. But you can’t take it to Starbucks.
It’s the demand that feeds the supply, not the other way around. Asking people to take anything to a repair shop means less time on Facebook. Who wants to do that?
Oddly enough, this is precisely why I don’t have an ipod. About 8 years ago I got a Sony MP3 player as a gift from my parents. Most of my friends had ipods. Most of them broke them within a year. Glass chipped or shattered, controls got damaged, etc. and it often came from very minor accidents. One friend dropped hers from standing to the sofa and it died.
That Sony MP3 player has slightly worse battery life at this point, and some very slight surface scuffing on the glass, a couple spots where the finish has worn off the metal and a couple spots where the paint if wearing off the corners of the plastic. It’s been dropped on the pavement no less than 2 dozen times. It’s been stepped on. It’s lived in a college kid’s backpack, a web dev’s pocket. It’s played an hour of music, minimum, every day for 8 years. If Sony would sell me a new one of the same thing with a bigger storage capacity, and windows 7 compatible software, I would gladly pay 2x the price of a new ipod for it, possibly more. Because it works. It doesn’t break. I have never enjoyed using a piece of technology as much as this. When I mention my MP3 player, I smile. When I thought I’d lost it, I turned to the internet to try to replace it with the same thing. Even though it was 6 years old at that point. Because it was that good.
Because of the quality, because of the experience and the durability, Sony has converted me basically for life to their brand. I don’t want an ipod, because, to me, it’s inferior to the product I have. When I bought my mom an MP3 player recently, it was a Sony too. So, now, no matter who is ontop, Sony has won my business with their quality. I doubt Apple could make the same claim. They have some die-hard fans, sure, but the vast majority of people who buy ipods buy them because that is what is popular, not necessarily because it’s the best product on the market for the price right now; they just know they want an ipod. Which is great for apple… as long as they stay popular. If they loose that, then they are in trouble, as they haven’t delivered a product that inspires people to want to stick with them because it’s just that good.
So, I think there is a lot to gain in the relationship between company and consumer when you make a good product.
It’s no surprise that Apple was barely profitable when their computers last an average of 7 years and are wildly profitable now that they make gadgets that only last 2.
My parents bought me a stereo receiver in 1982. The tape deck started getting flaky in the mid-90’s, but my dad and I were able to fix the problem. When it failed the second time I didn’t care because I no longer used cassette tapes. In 2007 the Auxiliary input finally crapped out so I couldn’t use it with my DVD player or portable audio equipment. A piece of consumer electronics that lasts a quarter century seems rather inconceivable today.
You are absolutely right. Look at what they are doing with siri. You think the iPhone 4 (and probably 3GS for that matter) cant record voice, send it to apple, and get data back? The plainly apparent planned obsolescence in all of tech, let alone Apple (the supposed poster child of design) is disgusting.
“That Sony MP3 player has slightly worse battery life at this point, and some very slight surface scuffing on the glass, a couple spots where the finish has worn off the metal and a couple spots where the paint if wearing off the corners of the plastic. It’s been dropped on the pavement no less than 2 dozen times.”
How the hell did you manage to drop your device more than 2 dozen times?
Do you have some chronic inability to hold things? I’ve owned many devices costing from tens to thousands of dollars, for three decades, but have never dropped a single one. And that includes using them while mountain climbing and engaging in other precarious activities. What is the problem that makes you drop and otherwise abuse your devices?
These devices don’t just grow on trees, they are the result of millennia of human evolution, science and technology. They are carefully assembled for you to enjoy. Why would you treat them so carelessly?
I bet the glue holding the parts together has an API, and if you downloaded it you would be able to take the bits apart.
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