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Xiaomi How It Works: Mi Watch teardown suggests Apple Watch will be cheaper to repair

The Xiaomi Mi Watch is shaping up to be a compelling (read: cheaper) alternative to the Apple Watch Series 5, but if this iFixit teardown is anything to go by, it might not be quite the bargain you’re hoping for. 

The main takeaway here is that veteran tinkerers and DIY repairs advocates iFixit gave the Xiaomi Mi Watch – which is expected to get a global release date any day now – a not-bad repairability score of 4/10, noting that key components like the battery are relatively easy to remove.

On the downside, iFixit also reports that it’s virtually impossible to remove the display without the outer case sustaining some cosmetic damage – a big minus, when you consider that smart watches are sold on their aesthetics almost as much, if not more than, their utility.

Related: Xiaomi Mi Watch

In a previous teardown, the Apple Watch Series 5 fared even better, earning a 6/10 from iFixit. In this examination, iFixit noted that both the screen and the battery were easy to switch out, but “Several component flex cables are mounted directly to the S5 package, requiring skilled microsoldering to replace.”

By contrast, the Xiaomi Mi Watch’s flex cable “is lengthy enough that we can maneuver our Precision Bit Driver into position to loosen a bracket and unplug the display.”

These findings maybe academic, unless you’re planning to have a crack at fixing a broken smart watch yourself. But if you do end up taking either device in for repairs, the precision and skill required might mean that fixing a Mi Watch could take a little longer than a Series 5 Apple Watch, therefore seeing you paying more in labour costs.

Related: Xiaomi Mi Watch vs Apple Watch 5

You should also note that iFixit’s goal is to show you how to repair your own devices with cheap tools you can pick up yourself – they use an iMac opening wheel in their Mi Watch teardown, for example – so specialists may have access to tools better suited to repairing specific devices.

That said, careful/lucky smart watch owners might never need to take their devices in for repair anyway, so only the more prone buyers out there need beware.

The Xiaomi Mi Watch costs ¥1290 (~£140) in its native China, features a 1.78-inch Super AMOLED screen, 1GB RAM and 8GB storage. Apple Watch Series 5 models start at £399, and feature slightly smaller 1.57-inch AMOLED displays, however, you are offered you up to 32GB of onboard storage, not to mention watchOS, which is packed with apps designed to encourage you to keep fit.

The Xiaomi Mi Watch stacks its own MIUI on top of Google’s WearOS, which may or may not be a good thing. The Mi Watch is Xiaomi’s first smart watch, so as with all first editions of anything, we would expect there to be some initial teething issues, but we have no way or knowing for sure until we get hold of one ourselves.

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