While Panic's pint-sized Playdate handheld won't make its way to early adopters until the end of the year, iFixit got a chance to look inside the device early. "Unfortunately it didn't come with any games, so a teardown was about all it was good for," iFixit said, for those who might be jealous the company got a unit before they did.
Taking apart the handheld, iFixit found a console with mostly modest internal components. The Playdate has a 180MHz CPU supported by 16MB of memory and 4GB of flash storage. Powering everything is a 2.74 Wh battery with about 25 percent of the capacity of the power cell you'll find inside the iPhone 12.
But what you want to know about is Playdate's signature fold-out crank. According to iFixit, Panic and Teenage Engineering embedded a cylindrical magnet into the shaft of the component. That magnet works in conjunction with a Hull effect sensor to trigger an input from the crank. It's a simple but effective design that should last. "One thing this crank won't do? Drift. There's no wiper or spring or sensor surface to wear out," the company says, referencing the Nintendo Switch's well-known controller issue.
While it's no Framework laptop, it's clear Panic and Teenage Engineering designed the Playdate with at least one eye toward repairability. A charming sticker iFixit found upon opening the device said "breaking," not removing, the components would void the warranty. Many of the internals most likely to fail first, including the battery and headphone jack, were either modular or easily accessible. Components like the display and USB-C port will be more challenging to replace, but the Playdate looks DIY friendly enough that it could enjoy a modding scene like the Game Boy Advance.