The always timely iFixit has posted its teardown images of Apple's new AirPods. Most of what we thought turns out to be true. The AirPods use a special kind of Bluetooth to link one earphone to the other. The new W1 chip orchestrates that, and the Bluetooth connection to the iPhone. And: "Beam-forming microphones are coupled with an additional accelerometer in order to filter out unwanted noise," the iFixit teardown artists state.
There's a lot of radios, sensors, copper, and solder packed into the round part that fits inside your ear. "If jamming complex components into a small form factor and sealing it with a copious amount of glue were a game, Apple would be winning," iFixit quips. But Apple made very, very good use of the long post that extends downward from the ear: That part contains arguably the two most important parts of the device—the battery and the antennas.
Importantly, iFixit says the AirPods are virtually impossible to open and repair if they break. And the materials used are for the most part not recyclable.