ARM Holding has already given a preview of the innards of the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live, but now it’s the turn of the folks over at iFixit to give these devices some teardown love. And based on their meticulous process and screening, buyers looking forward to the first Android Wear smartwatches need not worry about these devices’ repairability. At least not too much.
First up is the Gear Live, whose contents are shown above. Having had a longer time to percolate in the smartwatch market, Samsung has ensured that its swappable straps won’t take much effort to remove. And as mentioned in ARM’s review, the back cover is easily pried off after the four Torx T5 screws have been removed. On the back plate of the smartwatch we see the battery, also easily removable and, surprisingly, a Bluetooth/WiFi antenna, the latter of which is something Samsung neglects to mention in any official document. Very fishy, indeed. On the other half of the device can be found the display and the motherboard and very few surprises. Except for one. After the motherboard was easily removed, iFixit was welcomed by a display that is fused into the metal chassis. Despite the Gear Live’s relatively easy teardown process, this single critical flaw was enough to give it high but less than perfect score of 8 out of 10.
Pictured above is the G Watch. As we’ve called it before, it is plain and simple, and that carries over to its repairability index. Like Samsung’s smartwatch, the G Watch’s straps are also swappable, but this time it requires a bit of effort to take them out, almost quite on par with normal non-smart watches. And like the Gear Live, the back cover is also held in place by Torx T5 screws and easily comes off with very little coaxing. The back half houses the battery but this time it is paired with the vibrator. A bit of double-sided tape securely fastens the battery but offers little resistance when pried. The front half of the G Watch houses not just the motherboard and display but also the rubber gasket that gives the smartwatch its IP67 rating. As for the display, it is only glued to the bezel so detaching it is relatively easier after applying some heat. Without any unwanted surprises hiding inside, the LG G Watch gets a high score of 9 out of 10.
The LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live both score IP67 marks and so are quite hardy against some mild splashing and dust particles. But even should they be damaged, in other ways as well, both appear to be easy to take apart and repair, with the exception of the Gear Live’s display. That smartwatch’s secret WiFi antenna does call into question the device’s hidden capabilities. Now we just need to wait for the Moto 360 to make an official appearance and consequently get an iFixit treatment, though the rather unconventional display shape and rumored wireless charging might make Motorola’s device a bit harder to repair.