Teardown of Apple Watch shows sensor could measure blood oxygen levels

To reach the watch's inner components, iFixIt used a "destructive process" that would make it "impossible" for a person to repair the watch

The Apple Watch's sensor may hold more health monitoring functions than Apple has revealed, including measuring blood oxygen levels, a feature that's not enabled on the device and that Apple hasn't talked about.

That's one of the findings from iFixIt, which disassembled an Apple Watch Sport Edition on the day the wearables started shipping to customers.

U.S. government regulations may prevent Apple from allowing the watch to capture blood oxygen data, according to iFixIt, whose website lets people offer each other advice on how to fix a variety of things, including computer hardware. The site is also known for breaking apart Apple's new products as soon as they go on sale.

People eager to perform their own fixes on the Apple Watch may have to stick with swapping out the watch bands. That's the easiest repair to make on the device and only entails pressing a button to release the peg holding the bands in place.

The battery is also easy to remove and is secured with only a "mild adhesive." Accessing the battery, though, requires removing the display, a process that is difficult but not impossible, iFixIt said. The challenge is disconnecting the display cables, which are under a bracket. Apple has said that the watch's battery is replaceable.

However, to reach the watch's other internal components iFixIt had to employ a "destructive process" that required cutting cables, breaking soldered connections and removing adhesive. The tiny screws Apple used to secure components would also hinder do-it-yourself repair efforts. The watch's S1 processor is covered in a "solid block of plasticky resin," making board-level repairs "impossible."

The breakdown may end speculation that Apple would allow people to swap out and upgrade the watch's internal components.

"Stripping out the internals will be difficult and time-consuming -- not the sort of thing your local Genius is equipped to handle," said iFixIt.

Despite the challenges of getting to the watch's innards, iFixIt, which assigns devices a repairability score from one to 10, gave the wearable a five.

As has been reported, the Apple Watch contains a diagnostic port. However, iFixIt couldn't figure out how to remove the door covering the port without taking apart the entire watch. Apple most likely has an easier way to take off the door, according to iFixIt.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Appleconsumer electronics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?