Over the last few years, the AirPods lineup has grown to feature its three distinct and popular models: the AirPods, the AirPods Pro, and the AirPods Max. If you’ve owned them for a while and use them every day, you may struggle to get anything near the stated battery life without recharging them more often than you used to. If you’ve had your AirPods for years, their batteries might be on the brink of death. So, what can be done with these old AirPods? Here are some answers to this question.
Table of contents
1. Recycle the AirPods
Apple AirPods can be recycled through the Apple Store and other places that recycle electronic waste for free. The sad news is that recycling them is a bit complicated, and the high-quality build of these earpieces will make the decomposing process take years, so you can let Apple take care of this with their Trade In program—even Apple labels the AirPods boxes with a do not landfill icon.
The reason behind this is that the wired headphones are shredded and melted down for copper, but the lithium-ion batteries stay attached to the AirPods, posing a serious fire risk when shredded. Breakdown videos show that manual removal of the batteries is cost-prohibitive for recyclers.
Therefore, it looks like the one and only solution to guaranteeing your AirPods will be adequately recycled is by contacting Apple. The process is simple and part of their current trade-back program.
⏩ Recycle your AirPods with Apple Trade In
2. Replace the battery
Apple offers an official battery service for worn-out AirPods. If they are still under warranty and develop a battery problem, the company should replace them free of charge. In the US, Apple offers a limited one-year warranty. In other jurisdictions like the EU and Australia, this warranty is extended to two years by law.
|AirPods||Covered by AppleCare+||Battery service fee|
|AirPods / AirPods Pro||$0||$49 each|
|Charging Case, Wireless Charging Case (all)||$0||$49|
If you purchased AppleCare+, then coverage is extended to two years, including battery replacement if your AirPods hold 80% or less of their original battery capacity. If you have AppleCare+, it’s worth requesting battery service before coverage ends, whether or not you have noticed any problems.
⏩ Replace your AirPods’ battery with Apple’s official service
3. Swap the battery
A company called The Swap Club appears to have discovered the trick to accessing and replacing the battery inside the AirPods. The Swap Club offers an AirPod battery refurbishment process for Apple’s first and second-generation earbuds. It isn’t a traditional battery replacement but a refurbishment process that focuses on replacing worn-out lithium cells.
The price for the replacement starts at $49. Our subscribers can get a 10% discount on it using our coupon code: REFURBME. With this service, you can first order a replacement pair which shows up in the mail. Once they arrive and you’re happy with them, you have five business days to put your old AirPods in the mail. The Swap Club receives them, verifies that they are genuine, and refurbishes them for someone else.
The Swap Club sanitizes and cleans each AirPod it services. Because you will be receiving a refurbished replacement pair, these won’t look brand new and may have scratches and other cosmetic defects. However, they’ll be just as good as a brand-new pair in terms of battery life and functionality. Don’t hesitate to learn more about batteries of refurbished products in our post.
⏩ Swap your AirPods battery with The Swap Club
4. Sell your AirPods
It is very likely for your AirPods to die after a few years since lithium-ion batteries are used to power them. These batteries are known to degrade each time they are charged, and retailers know this. For this reason, there are not many places willing to buy old ones, yet there are some. These resellers have different prices for used and old ones that depend on their condition and model.
You can sell them on Amazon, BuyBack, eBay, and even RefurbMe (that’s us). Through our partner, SellYourMac, you can easily sell your used ones through a quick and convenient transaction, with free shipping included for all purchases. Make sure that you clean them out before selling your used AirPods (for obvious reasons!).
⏩ Sell your AirPods with SellYourMac
How long do the AirPods last?
The limiting factor of Apple earbuds’ lifespan is the ability of their batteries to retain a charge. Each earbud contains several chips, microphones, and speakers, weighing about 4 grams. Without a cord, the earbud gets its power from a tiny cylindrical battery that has approximately 1% of an iPhone’s battery capacity.
Like those used by the AirPods, lithium-ion batteries wear out the more they are used. Thus, their battery life per charge may fall significantly over several months of use. How long this takes depends on your use.
Apple doesn’t specifically share how many charge cycles to expect from the batteries in the regular AirPods, Pro, and Max models. How long they last will largely depend on how much you use and charge them.
However, the majority of users agree that the original AirPods will last about two years before you start seeing a noticeable decline in battery function—and the Pro and Max models are unlikely to last much longer.
Every time you charge it, the batteries lose a small capacity. Unfortunately, this decline is irreversible, and the batteries break down entirely over time since each one has a limited number of cycles until it can’t hold a charge anymore.
If there is anything you can take away from this article is that you can easily replace rather than recycle your old AirPods. While these devices are tough to recycle, they’re also quite small, which at least mitigates the sheer volume of their contribution to the world’s waste problems.
We share a similar sentiment, and thus we encourage our readers to try refurbished products. A refurbished product is 100% functional, costs less, and saves up a lot of e-waste. We have a selection of refurbished AirPods for you to choose from different certified merchants, all of them with a warranty.