The Playdate is one of the most interesting pieces of new gaming hardware in years, with a fun, colorful design that evokes old handhelds like the Game Boy and a unique crank for interacting with games.
And thanks to the good folks at iFixit (to whom Panic sent a Playdate specifically for disassembly purposes), we’ve now gotten a good look inside at the upcoming handheld — and how that crank actually works.
Most of the internal pieces more or less track with what you’d expect from a diminutive console: a 2.74Wh battery (about a quarter of the size of an iPhone 12), an LCD display, and an easily replaced headphone jack.
But the star of the show is, of course, the crank, which uses a Hall effect sensor. Rotating the crank in turn rotates a cylindrical magnet embedded in the shaft, whose magnetic field then activates the sensor as it turns (thus, providing an input). That means that there are no gears or traditional mechanical parts, which is interesting and should hopefully prevent things from breaking down long term.
Despite the teardown, though, it seems that Panic would prefer if users didn’t crack up their Playdates; the warning sticker on the inside advises that breaking internal parts voids the warranty. Probably best to avoid it, since shipping has slipped to 2022 for preordering a replacement.