Don’t turn on your Apple Watch Ultra

Don't turn on your Apple Watch Ultra
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The Apple Watch Ultra is just starting to reach customers’ hands, and unlike previous Apple Watches, there are four exposed screw heads on the bottom of the device. I like to take a look inside my tech, Add thermal pad to M2 MacBook Air It makes technology work to improve performance or just see what’s inside. The moment I saw the screws on the bottom of the Apple Watch Ultra, I knew I wanted to take a look inside. But I probably shouldn’t have…

The bottom of the Apple Watch has four P5 pentalobe screws. These are the same type of screws that hold the bottom of the MacBook, and although not as common as Philips or flathead screwdrivers, pentalob screwdrivers is not uncommon either. After removing these four screws, the first complication arose – each screw has a very small o-ring around it. These are undoubtedly part of the extreme waterproof ratings of Apple’s high-end smartwatch. When I started screwing the first four screws back in, it turned out to be nearly impossible to tighten without the o-ring partially slipping out of place.

Still, I continued, being aware that at this point some of the water resistance of the watch could be compromised. With these screws removed, the only way to continue is a spudgers and thin shims to separate the ceramic back of the watch from the titanium case. It was well sealed, and the thin waterproofing was gone as soon as it was pulled out. There are also two thin ribbon cables that connect the back of the watch and all the health sensors to the battery, display, processor and body of the watch. I had to be careful when separating the two so as not to damage the wires.

Curious open Apple Watch Ultra

Removing the back panel didn’t reveal much of the interior. There was a large black component with the Apple logo, but the two buttons used to release the Apple Watch straps came off and three of the four springs disappeared into the abyss of my rug.

With the back panel of the watch removed, the watch did not experience any sudden errors, but understandably failed to connect to my phone. There were three more screws—this time with three blades—and the little metal plates holding the black component, but when I took them off and started to remove them, it turned out to be a little too big of a job. It looked like there were multiple ribbon cables attached to the other side, and there didn’t seem to be a good way to separate them from the back of the watch. Reaching these would likely involve removing the screen by softening the adhesive and then using a pliers to separate it. This is how you can access internal information on previous Apple Watches, but the stitching of the screen on the Ultra didn’t seem like a great way to turn it on, I was pretty sure I could do it without breaking the screen. The Apple Watch Ultra’s display is sapphire, which is more scratch resistant but potentially more prone to cracking. This is probably one reason why Apple has extended the metal body of the watch towards the flat edges of the display.

At that point, I put everything together as best I could. Reattaching the two ribbon cables attached to the bottom of the device proved quite difficult. The buttons used to remove the watch strap, which is now devoid of some small springs, rattle with the touch of the watch. And the little rubber o-rings around the screw stick out a bit. With the O-rings missing and the adhesive seal broken, the watch’s water resistance is absolutely nowhere near factory standards. I’m definitely not going scuba diving at this point.

No doubt we will see a more complete disassembly of the watch from its people in the coming days. iFixit. They will definitely make more attempts Apple Watch Ultra more than I did. I’m sure someone more skilled than me could do the job of disassembling and reinstalling the watch better without damaging the water resistance too much, but alas. I highly recommend waiting for their guide to feed your curiosity rather than tearing your own watch apart, or you may be left with a non-waterproof (or worse, broken) version of Apple’s most durable smartwatch ever.

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