Do your AirPods have a fraction of the battery life they had when you bought them? You’re not alone. While Apple might not offer a simple battery swap, there is another route you can take to extend the life of your earphones.
Apple May Replace Your AirPods
If your AirPods are still under warranty and they develop a battery problem, Apple should replace them free of charge. In the US, Apple offers a limited warranty of one year. In other jurisdictions like the EU and Australia, this warranty is extended to two years by law.
You might want to try this route if you’re experiencing poor battery life, erratic charging behavior, or issues with the charging case itself. You can make an appointment at an Apple Store and take your AirPods in for testing. If Apple decides that your issue isn’t covered by warranty you can choose to pay for repairs or simply walk away.
If you purchased AppleCare+ for your AirPods then coverage is extended to two years, which includes battery replacement if your AirPods are holding 80% or less of their original battery capacity. If you have AppleCare+ on your AirPods it’s certainly worth requesting battery service before coverage ends, whether or not you’ve noticed any problems.
Unfortunately, many issues don’t show up until after the two-year mark. If you’re out of warranty then battery service is still available, though as one Washington Post writer put it: “Apple’s “battery service” for AirPods is code for “throwing it away.” Apple isn’t repairing AirPods—it’s just replacing the ear buds and recycling your old ones.”
You’re effectively trading your old AirPods for a refurbished pair at a cost of $49 per earbud (or $79 for a pair of AirPods Max). A similar service is available if you’re having problems with the charging case too, at a cost of $49 per unit.
Considering a brand new pair of AirPods (without the wireless charging case) will cost you $159, paying $98 for refurbished earbuds seems like a raw deal. Newer AirPods use the more reliable H1 chip, too, so it’s even harder to recommend getting an older refurbished model for that price.
Your new AirPods will slowly lose battery life over time, too. That’s how all batteries work.
Can You Replace AirPods Batteries Yourself?
Speaking to the Washington Post in 2019, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens declared: “There is no way we can feasibly understand taking the battery out without completely destroying the AirPod,” after attempting the procedure five times.
This is what prompted the DIY resource to give the original AirPods a repairability score of 0 out of 10. The iFixit teardown notes that glue is the main hurdle in accessing the internals of Apple’s earbuds.
This is what makes repairing AirPods yourself, at home, such a seemingly impossible task. Not only are the cells that Apple uses tiny (93 milliwatt hours, according to iFixit’s first-generation AirPods teardown), they’re encased in glue and require the total destruction of the earbud to gain access.
Even if you were able to source a suitable cell and replace it, you wouldn’t have a plastic shell left to reassemble them afterward.
Replace Your AirPods with Podswap Instead
Despite iFixit’s damning assessment, a company called Podswap appears to have discovered the trick to accessing and replacing the battery inside AirPods. Podswap offers an AirPod battery refurbishment process starting at $59.99 for Apple’s first-generation earbuds.
This isn’t a traditional battery replacement, but a refurbishment process that focuses on replacing worn-out lithium cells. If you fail to send your old AirPods back within five days of receiving your refurbished pair you will be charged an additional fee of $49.99.
With this service, you first order a replacement pair of AirPods which show up in the mail. Once they’ve arrived and you’re happy with them you have five business days to put your old AirPods in the mail (return postage is free). Podswap receives your old AirPods, verifies that they are genuine, and refurbishes them for someone else.
If you only have one AirPod to return, you can pay a premium of $89.99 to perform a “one for two” swap. Podswap only requires that you send in the AirPods and does not currently offer service for or replacement charging cases.
Podswap sanitizes and cleans each AirPod it services. Because you will be receiving a refurbished replacement pair, the replacements likely won’t look brand new and may have scratches and other cosmetic defects. In terms of battery life, they’ll be just as good as a brand new pair.
At present, Podswap only services first and second-generation AirPods. The company will likely extend the service to AirPods Pro in the future since it already has a waiting list to gauge interest.
It’s worth taking a look at the Podswap FAQ if you’re thinking of using the service to make sure you’re aware of how the whole process works. All replacement AirPods received have a 90-day warranty to cover any defects you might encounter. Podswap urges you to fully test your replacement pair before sending in the old pair and finalizing the process.
Podswap is currently only available in the US, although the company has acknowledged that there is a worldwide demand for the service and is working on expanding its operation to meet this demand in the future.
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