You can’t get aging batteries replaced in a pair of AirPods, but you may be able to get a fresh pair of AirPods at a discount after using a specific code word.
AirPods are outfitted with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which have a finite lifespan. So what do you do if your AirPods’ batteries are finally giving out? The Washington Post’s Geoffrey Fowler discovered an answer.
The Code Word
The individual batteries in your AirPods will eventually wear out and fail to hold a charge. That’s just the nature of lithium-ion battery technology. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy another pair at the full $159+ price tag.
If you go into an Apple Store now seeking replacements for your AirPods, many store staff will likely be confused about your options. They may notify you that a replacement pair costs $138.
While that’s a discount, it’s not a very good one.
But after some back-and-forth with Apple employees, Fowler remembered that Apple once told him that they would “service” depleted or degraded AirPods batteries for $49. That appears to be the trick.
As long as you explicitly use the phrase “battery service” when you bring your AirPods to an Apple Store, staff will service your AirPods for $49 a stick.
It’s worth noting that this is dependent on whether the battery in your AirPods charging case is still good. But that battery should outlast the ones in each individual AirPod. If it’s also going out, Apple will replace it for $49 if you use the “battery service” phrase.
This, of course, doesn’t apply to AirPods that are still under their standard one-year warranty or extended AppleCare+ coverage. Apple will replace those AirPods for free if their batteries are going out, but two full years after purchase is the cap for that coverage.
All in all, that’s $98 total to get AirPods with fresh batteries. That’s still pretty expensive, but there’s actually a reason for that.
Why Are “Serviced” AirPods so Expensive?
Looking at it objectively, $98 to replace the batteries on a pair of AirPods seems pretty steep (and it is).
- Apple will swap an Apple Watch battery for just $79.
- A new iPhone battery can lost as little as $49.
The problem is that the battery in each individual AirPod stick isn’t actually replaceable.
“Battery service,” as it turns out, is essentially Apple’s code for throwing away your old AirPods and giving you a new pair at a discount.
This is largely because Apple designed AirPods in a way that those batteries aren’t replaceable without destroying the AirPods themselves.
In fact, Apple doesn’t even have a way to test the charge or battery health on AirPods or their charging case.
For a company that prides itself on sustainability, that may be a bigger problem than simply needing to give away discounted AirPods. Apple does note that it can recycle AirPods and reuse those materials in its supply chain. But that’s not as elegant of a solution as simply making the batteries more easily replaceable.
Apple should fix its AirPods design. But, in the meantime, as long as you say you need battery service, you won’t be stuck with needing to buy an entirely new pair at full price.