User connecting AirPods and AirPods Pro with Mac

Apple is offering free replacement AirPods Pro earbuds for users affected by specific issues. The program is only available for a limited time, so here’s how to check if your own pair is eligible for replacement.

What’s the Problem With AirPods Pro?

Apple has stated that a “small percentage” of AirPods Pro units are encountering sound issues and offering to replace them for free. Issues that may arise from the defect include:

  • Crackling audio and static sounds—particularly in loud environments, when exercising, or while talking on the phone.
  • Problems getting Active Noise Cancellation working properly (including loss of bass and tinny audio, or increased background noise).

The issue may affect both left and right earbuds, and it’s possible that only one earbud will need replacing. The issue is limited to AirPods Pro units (not regular AirPods) that were manufactured before October 2020.

Apple AirPods Pro

Some of these issues may arise in AirPods Pro units that have been knocked or damaged, but it’s unclear if Apple could tell the precise cause of the problem. If you’ve had a pair of AirPods Pro for a while and it exhibits one of these issues, you might as well approach Apple to see what it offers you. The program was initially going to end in October 2021, but Apple has renewed it for a third year, so be sure to take advantage of it before October 2022.

How to Claim Your Replacement AirPods Pro

Unlike previous Apple replacement programs, there’s no specific serial number for you as a user to check against the return program. It’s also difficult to know exactly when your AirPods Pro were manufactured, even if you bought them in 2021 or later.

The replacement program is running all over the world in countries like the US, Great Britain, and Australia. The process is the same in all territories. You can either find a local Apple Authorized Service Provider, make an appointment at an Apple Store near you (if you have one) or contact Apple Support directly.

Your AirPods Pro will be tested for issues and if any problems are found you will be offered a replacement pair. Some users (including How-To Geek staff) have reported only noticing issues in one earbud but having both exchanged as part of the program.

Since the issue only affects earbuds, Apple won’t replace the charging case that came with your original purchase.

Apple’s Best Earbuds

The AirPods Pro are excellent wireless earbuds that work well with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. Apple’s use of active noise cancellation to remove ambient sound is a standout feature.

If it turns out your AirPods Pro aren’t covered but you still need for a replacement, check out our recommendations for wireless earbuds to go with your iPhone.

The Best Wireless Earbuds for iPhone and iPad of 2023

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Best Earbuds Overall
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Skullcandy Sesh Evo
Best Budget Earbuds
Skullcandy Sesh Evo
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Best Earbuds for Travel
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Beats Fit Pro
Best Workout Earbuds
Beats Fit Pro
Sony WF-1000XM4
Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds
Sony WF-1000XM4
Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He has covered a wide range of topics including Apple, security, productivity tips, gaming and more for publications like How-To Geek, Zapier, and MakeUseOf.
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