Apple Watch has disabled pulse oximeter, hard to replace S1 chip

Now that iFixit has finished its excruciatingly detailed journey down the Apple Watch path, it's time to take stock of the spoils of war. Considering the smartwatch is one of this year's most interesting tech products and Apple's most personal device, says iFixit, it's only natural to be a tad curious about what makes it tick, which is appropriate given it's a watch. But with that also comes the question of how easy would it be to repair, either by yourself or by authorized personnel.

Apparently, the Apple Watch hid some treasures inside. Or at least one. The heart rate monitor nested deep within the smartwatch body happens to be a plethysmograph that can also measure blood oxygen levels like a pulse oximeter. It is mysterious, then, that Apple only advertised measuring heart rates. The pulse oximeter might have been disabled to comply with US FDA regulations.

The smartwatch also hides some ugly warts. As beautiful and refined it might be on the outside, underneath the custom Apple S1 processor lies a mess of ribbon cables and glue. Pulling out those just to get to the processor itself is pretty much a death sentence for the Apple Watch, hinting that repairing its part of device will be as good as getting a new one.

That said, the situation is not all that grim. The Apple Watch scores a rather bearable 5 out of 10 in iFixit's repairability index, in stark contrast to the new MacBook's dismal 1. Opening up the smartatch is not without effort, but it is not completely tedious either. The display is the first one out, making it easier to replace. And with Apple's rather comprehensive warranty for the displays, that's not going to be much of an issue. The battery is likewise not difficult to get at.

What will be difficult, however, is everything else, as trying to reach everything else will not only require more effort but even more destruction. This practically squash any hope that Apple will be offering an upgrade path without having to ship the Apple Watch back to the mothership.

SOURCE: iFixit