Apple Now Selling Refurbished AirPods 3 Starting at $139

AirPods 3 Credit: Ivan Shenets / Shutterstock
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Although you can find some pretty nice deals on Apple’s Certified Refurbished Store, popular products sometimes take a while to show up there. Such is the case with Apple’s third-generation AirPods, where discounted refurbished models have taken nearly two years to appear.

The AirPods 3 launched in October 2021, oddly appearing at Apple’s Mac-focused Unleashed event rather than the iPhone-focused California Streaming keynote that had occurred a month earlier. While the highlight of the October event was an all-new M1 Pro/Max-powered MacBook Pro lineup, Apple had a few other music-related surprises, including some new HomePod mini colors and the Apple Music Voice Plan.

Nevertheless, the AirPods 3 became an overnight hit due to pent-up demand for a new design and AirPods Pro-exclusive features like Spatial Audio. The prior second-generation AirPods had added a few new perks like ”Hey Siri” and wireless charging but otherwise retained the same long-stemmed design as the originals.

By contrast, the AirPods 3 featured a new design that leaned more toward the AirPods Pro, offering shorter stems without the ear cushions or active noise cancellation (ANC). They also ushered in MagSafe wireless charging to Apple’s true wireless earbuds, as they were the first new AirPods to be released following the debut of MagSafe with the iPhone 12 the year before.

Due to their popularity, Apple’s AirPods rarely see significant price drops. They’re never on sale at Apple, although you can sometimes find modest discounts at Amazon, such as the AirPods 3 with Lightning charging case for $10 off.

However, now that the AirPods 3 have finally landed on Apple’s Certified Refurbished Store, you can get an even better — and somewhat more consistent — discount at $30 off across the board.

Specifically, the AirPods 3 with the Lightning charging case are available for $139, while you can move up to the MagSafe charging case for $149. While the good news is that these prices are fixed for the refurbished versions, they are subject to availability. As of this writing, the Lightning version is showing out of stock, but you can still get your hands on the MagSafe-equipped model with free two-day shipping or even in-store pickup in select locations.

Last year’s second-generation AirPods Pro may also soon be coming to Apple’s refurbished store; the folks at MacRumors noticed a placeholder listing for $209, or $40 off the regular selling price, although they’re currently showing as unavailable for delivery or at most Apple Stores we checked.

How Do Refurbished AirPods Work?

Some folks may be understandably nervous about purchasing a refurbished product, and doubly so when it comes to something like earbuds which raise potential hygiene issues. However, in some ways, you’re actually better off with the refurbished products that Apple sells.

Brand new products are mass-produced on an assembly line, and while Apple does quality assurance (QA) testing, that’s done by somewhat random sampling. For instance, Apple might check one out of every 50 or 100 AirPods that come off the line. The rest are assumed to be okay and go directly into the boxes with little more than a visual inspection.

Of course, Apple’s high standards mean that manufacturing defects are incredibly rare among its products, but they happen occasionally. By contrast, every Apple Certified Refurbished product is rigorously tested to the same standard as Apple’s Finished Goods testing procedures.

In other words, unlike a brand new set of AirPods, Apple Certified Refurbished AirPods have been specifically tested and confirmed to be working properly without any problems.

Products are also thoroughly cleaned and repackaged with new manuals, cables, and boxes. With AirPods, that means the earpieces are meticulously cleaned for hygienic reasons, and in the case of AirPods Pro, brand new ear cushions are packed into the box.

It’s also worth noting that not all refurbished products that Apple sells are items that were returned as defective, and it’s particularly unlikely with AirPods, which are incredibly complicated to repair and therefore more likely to be recycled.

You may have noticed that Apple doesn’t sell “open box” items like other retailers. Instead, all products returned to an Apple Store go into the refurbished process. This means you could get a set of AirPods that work perfectly fine that someone took home for a day before changing their mind and deciding to return them.

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