YouTube’s tech assassin has Apple Watch in his sights

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Richard Ryan is a YouTube sensation for putting tech gadgets, like Apple products, through outragious torture tests. Photo: FullMag/YouTube
Richard Ryan is a YouTube sensation famous for putting tech gadgets, especially Apple products, through outrageous torture tests. Photo: FullMag/YouTube

Richard Ryan is friendly and easy-going — even when he’s behind a 50-caliber rifle, violently shredding an iPhone, iPad or, this week, the new Apple Watch.

Every neighborhood had that one kid who liked to build a model only to blow it up. Ryan, 33, is that kid, except with more firepower and a slow-motion camera. He delights in “blowouts,” meaning when a round completely shatters a device, and likes to admire the “peel back,” the path a bullet travels through a device’s metal casing.

“Very little, if any, practical knowledge comes out of this,” Ryan told Cult of Mac before shooting an episode where he tested the Apple Watch while skydiving in a wingsuit. “It goes back to that kid smashing that thing he just bought as soon as he gets outside the store. Yes, there is a cringeworthy feeling you get watching that device you and I both want get destroyed. But there is a visual payoff with the slow-mo. It’s entertainment.”

This iPhone did not fare so well against a 50-caliber bullet. Photo: FullMag/YouTube
This iPhone did not fare so well against a 50-caliber bullet. Photo: FullMag/YouTube

If Ryan is on several watch lists, the one he is most proud of is YouTube, where he recently passed the 1-million-subscriber mark with his FullMag channel. The self-proclaimed tech assassin likes to put technology through torture tests, nonchalantly destroying the very devices most of us scrimp and save to buy.

Such videos have gained major traction in recent years, from the classic Will It Blend? series to the Unbox Therapy’s wildly viral Bendgate clip.

How did Ryan turn to a life of such wanton destruction?

He is a comedian and actor who, discouraged by the Hollywood audition life, saw the potential in YouTube when he joined a comedy group with its own channel in 2008. As a kid growing up on a farm, he learned how to handle firearms and is certified and licensed by the federal government to handle guns and explosives.

He said he is also an app developer and, disappointed by the heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch, wants to create an app that charts ongoing heart rate during a skydive so he can overlay the data onto GoPro footage.

Ryan knows viewers cringe when they see one of his videos but hopes they are entertained by the slow-motion footage. Photo: FullMag/YouTube
Ryan knows viewers cringe when they see one of his videos but hopes they are entertained by the slow-motion footage. Photo: FullMag/YouTube

Ryan goes between Tennessee and Nevada for filming because those states’ firearms and explosives laws recognize his license without the burden of additional permits for the firepower he has at his disposal.

As he is quick to say, the videos provide little public service. That an iMac can’t stand up to a World War II-era anti-tank rifle won’t discourage buyers. However, we should be encouraged that an iPhone 6 survived a long fall when Ryan let go during a recent skydive in a wingsuit.

Ryan’s first video with the Apple Watch subjected the wearable to freezing by liquid nitrogen with a sledgehammer finish. For his second, he placed a watch in a balloon and created a hydrogen explosion.

This Friday, he said he would post a video of a 50-caliber shell going through the watch. Look for a video early next week featuring Verne Troyer, Dr. Evil’s Mini-Me from Austin Powers fame. Ryan said Troyer’s shot through the Apple Watch with a 50-caliber rifle left him in awe.

“He Robin Hooded a bullseye twice,” Ryan said of Troyer. “I’ve never had a shooter to the range do so well.”

Ryan bought five Apple Watches for torture tests and is looking for more on eBay and Craiglist, but sellers right now are asking too much. He is able to pay for gadgets through advertising and, now, T-shirt sales. But in the past, he has worked multiple jobs, from landscaping to bartending, to pay for his YouTube habit, he said.

He rented a slow-motion camera (the day rate is pricey) before recently purchasing his own. At times, he hires camera operators and an editor. Otherwise, he is most times a one-man show using cameras set up on tripods that can be controlled remotely.

Ryan does not just shoot Apple products. He drills Samsung and other Android devices, too, though he says traffic for these videos are not as high as those for Apple (my favorite was his shooting of an iPad mini with an Airsoft rifle).

He has uncorked a bottle of Cristal with a 50-caliber rifle and answered the mystery of how many Peeps it takes to stop a bullet.

The Apple Watch after a durability test involving liquid nitrogen and a sledgehammer. Photo: FullMag/YouTube
The Apple Watch after a durability test involving liquid nitrogen and a sledgehammer. Photo: FullMag/YouTube

An Apple Watch discovery

During his violent experiments with the Apple Watch, he discovered something odd about the device’s durability. Like all products, he starts with simple drop tests and works his way up to the heavy-duty torture tests.

He found that while the sapphire crystal face on the midrange stainless steel Apple Watch got destroyed when he dropped it on concrete, the less-expensive Sport model’s Ion-X glass face did not.

“Everyone has an opinion on how to measure these things, so take it for what it’s worth,” he said. “The stainless model shattered. There were these little pieces on the concrete. It really surprised me.”

He has not posted this video yet. He instead might have himself filmed going to different Apple Stores as he attempts to return the broken device. With any luck, the Apple Specialists won’t recognize him.