Apple Watch refuses to give up its secrets

(File, AFP)
(File, AFP)

Melbourne - Apple managed to frustrate gadget lovers and investors desperate to find out the components of its new smart watch on Friday, encasing its chips in tough resin and using rare screws to thwart people trying prise it apart.

Gadget repair firm iFixit, which has carried out "teardowns" on Apple products from iPhones to MacBooks, said the US company also appeared to be promoting its brand on the watch's inner workings, complicating detailed analysis of the parts' origins.

News that a supplier has been chosen - or rejected - for one of Apple's products can cause drastic swings in stock prices, so huge are the iPhone maker's orders.

The iFixit team, which travelled from San Luis Obispo to Australia to get its hands on one of the first Apple Watch deliveries after the gadget's global launch on Friday, began by blasting the screen with a heat gun to prise it off.

Then they untangled a nest of cables to uncover the 'S1' - the core computing module encased in resin that even a pen knife couldn't shift.

Strict rules

"We have definitely not seen this before," iFixit teardown engineer Andrew Goldberg said in Melbourne.

iFixit had anticipated that the resin module, which Apple has said is to protect the electronics from the elements, would have a lid that could be opened rather than be a solid block.

Apple in the past has depended on multiple companies to supply its memory chips for storing music and photos, but imposes strict rules forbidding those suppliers from discussing Apple-related business with investors and the media.

Previous suppliers have included SK Hynix, Qualcomm, Skyworks Solutions, Avago Technologies ARM Holdings, NXP Semiconductors NV, Samsung Electronics.

"In the past, they have identified the component parts, but now instead of identifying all the processors and chips, they're marketing it as the S1," said Sam Lionheart, a technical writer at iFixit.

"They're being a little more protective of their suppliers and taking credit for more than they're making in house, which isn't a crime, to make the technology seem a bit more innovative or revolutionary than it really is," she added.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the design of the watch, or the rationale behind it.

The watch is the highest profile wearable technology that links wirelessly to phones, which has the potential to create a template for other firms that have struggled to create products consumers would want to be seen in.

The teardown found one chip outside the resin casing, possibly linked to Wi-Fi, but without a clear logo. It also revealed that Apple has used tri-wing screws, a relatively uncommon type of screw, making it more difficult to access the electronics.

After a four-hour attempt to unlock its secrets, the iFixit team will now take the sports watch purchased in Australia back to California for further testing.

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