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Apple extends repair program for AirPods Pro with crackling sound issues

Apple last year launched a repair program for its AirPods Pro wireless earbuds, as some units had been affected by a problem causing “crackling or static sounds.” The company has now extended the AirPods Pro repair program with an additional year of coverage.

When the program was originally announced in October 2020, Apple said it would cover affected AirPods Pro for two years after the first retail sale of the unit. In other words, initial customers would be able to have their earbuds replaced for free until October 2021, since AirPods Pro were introduced in 2019.

Earlier this week, the AirPods Pro repair program webpage was updated with a new disclaimer saying that the program “covers affected AirPods Pro for 3 years after the first retail sale of the unit.” The change was first noticed by a Reddit user on r/AirPods and confirmed by Apple on the company’s website.

According to Apple, affected AirPods Pro units may suffer from crackling or static sounds and Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected. If you’ve noticed any of these issues with your AirPods Pro, you should contact Apple to take them to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider.

Apple will replace the affected AirPods Pro for free. The company said that AirPods Pro will be examined by technicians before the replacement. According to Apple, the affected units were manufactured prior to October of 2020. If your AirPods have the issue, you have three years from the date of purchase to have them serviced by Apple free of charge.

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How to replace lost or broken AirPods, AirPods Pro, or their case

Within the last couple of years, Apple’s true wireless earbuds have revolutionized the way we listen to music. And with the introduction of Airpods 2 and then the AirPods Pro, the company has improved many of the original model’s shortcomings. The bad news, however, is that even with all the improvements Apple has made over the years, the company hasn’t made it any easier to keep track of your AirPods case or prevent it from breaking. The same goes for the earbuds themselves.

Thankfully, replacing broken or lost AirPods, AirPods Pro, or their charging case isn’t as tough as it may seem. Here’s what you need to know.

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Component costs

Let’s face it: Apple’s buds aren’t the cheapest way to go fully wireless, but they might be the easiest. With reliable connectivity and an effortless pairing procedure, you can easily spend just as much on a set of earbuds that won’t work, so it’s not difficult to see why people are flocking to them.

However, the wireless design does make it easier to misplace one of the pieces. If you’ve lost or damaged an AirPod or its charging case for good, here’s what it will cost to replace each component:

  • Individual AirPods (second-generation): $69 each
  • AirPods charging case: $59
  • AirPods wireless charging case: $69
  • Individual AirPods Pro: $89 each
  • AirPods Pro wireless charging case: $89

Replacing components outright

Begin by making sure that you are signed in to your Apple account with the correct ID. Then, navigate to this support page.

Once here, select Lost or Missing AirPods to open up an additional menu screen.

On this screen, you can choose to replace a lost AirPod, replace the charging case, or even replace damaged AirPods Pro ear tips. For now, let’s assume you want to replace a single AirPod.

Since we are only missing one AirPod, select One in the next section.

Here, you have several actions you can take. A clear place to start is Order a Replacement, but, occasionally, replacement AirPods are simply not available. Because of this, a more reliable choice may be to select Order a Replacement via Chat With an Advisor, where you can be specific about what you want. Apple also lets you give your details to Support for a later call or can instruct you how to order an AirPod from an Apple Store.

There’s more than one way to purchase a replacement component, but we like the above method above because of how straightforward it is for newcomers.

Replacing components under warranties or AppleCare+

So, what if you still have all of the parts, but something’s not working correctly? Thankfully, Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro are protected by a one-year warranty. Service for any AirPods with diminished battery capacity or a defective battery within this time frame will be free. Battery problem maintenance that falls outside this one-year warranty period, however, will run you $49 for each broken AirPod or $98 for the pair. A replacement AirPods charging case will cost you $49.

If you’re the kind of person who values peace of mind, you might want to subscribe to AppleCare+, which caps replacement fees and covers some repairs. With an AppleCare+ plan, the new replacement fees are as follows:

  • AirPods Pro: $29
  • Charge case for AirPods Pro: $29
  • AirPods: $29
  • AirPods Charging case: $29
  • Wireless charge case: $29

It’s that easy. If your AppleCare+ warranty is still in effect, you’re looking at a price drop of $29. When it comes to repairing damaged components, AppleCare+ covers two cases of accidental damage over a period of 12 months. This means in the standard coverage of two years, you’ll have access to four repairs for damaged AirPods. If one of your AirPods stops working, instead of having to give it up, you may want to use AppleCare+ to try and get them fixed.

Replacing defective AirPods Pro for free

AirPods Pro that were manufactured before October 2020 may develop a couple of different problems that have been traced back to manufacturing issues. These problems include:

  • Crackling and static that appear to be related to noise cancellation, as they can get even worse in loud or active environments, or when talking on the phone.
  • Active noise cancellation leading to audio issues, like losing all bass sound or actually increasing environmental noise instead of blocking it.

If you have these issues, Apple has created a free replacement program to replace either of the AirPods Pro buds (but not the case). To take advantage of this program, contact an authorized service provider or an Apple Retail Store and explain that you are interested. If online you can contact Apple Support, which we talk about below. Note that the program doesn’t affect any other models, and only lasts for two years after the retail sale of defective Pros.

Contacting Apple Support

One of the best options for replacing Apple devices is to contact Apple Support directly. You will need to know your AirPods, AirPods Pro, or charging case’s serial number before calling, however. You also can contact Apple Support in tandem with Apple’s Express Replacement policy if you need am AirPod replacement quickly.

To get your new device, reach out to Apple Support and hash out your warranty details. If you are eligible under its policy, the company will send a replacement. After that, all you need to do is send your faulty device back to Apple within 10 days of its replacement shipment.

What about AirPods Max?

Apple AirPods Max in five colors

The AirPods Max — Apple’s latest pair of dedicated headphones — are a singular unit, meaning replacing or repairing them is more straightforward. If you have AppleCare+, every AirPods Max repair will cost you $29. This should also cover replacements, if necessary. You also can choose to only replace the AirPods Max ear cushion if necessary, which is useful if an ear cushion tears. If you don’t have AppleCare+, you’ll have to call or chat and ask for specific replacement prices in your region.

However, there is one significant caveat for replacing the AirPods Max under warranty: By default, new ear cushions are not included. This means you either need to keep the cushions from your previous pair or buy/replace new cushions for your new model.

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How to get an AirPod replacement –– and what you need to know before you do

  • You can get an AirPod replacement through Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, as you can with your charging case, battery, or ear tips. 
  • Certain models of Apple AirPods Pro made before October 2020 are eligible for a free service program for sound issues.
  • Apple can replace lost or damaged AirPods for those with and without an AppleCare warranty for a fee.
  • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Whether you've accidentally damaged or lost one or both of your AirPods or your charging case, or you need to replace the battery or ear tips, Apple — or an Apple Authorized Service Provider — can service your product. 

Whether or not you'll have to pay for your service depends on the issue you have and whether it's covered by warranty. How much you pay will depend on whether or not you have AppleCare and what you need to be repaired or replaced. 

Quick tip: AirPod replacements generally take about a week to be completed.

Here are the different service and repair options Apple offers for AirPods. 

How to replace your Apple AirPods

To have your AirPods serviced, you have several options. First, you can make an Apple Genius Bar appointment and bring them into an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. You'll need to have your AirPods and serial number on hand, which you can find on your Charging Case, the original sales receipt, or the original AirPods box. 

If you'd prefer to mail your product to Apple for service, call Apple Support. Before speaking to an Apple Support advisor, make sure to locate the serial number of your device. It will take about a week to receive your replacement AirPods or Charging Case. You can check the status of a service request here.

How to replace your Apple AirPods Pro for free

Apple has a free service program for certain AirPods Pro models with sound issues. It applies to affected units manufactured before October 2020. Sound issues for affected AirPods Pro may include crackling or static sounds while exercising or talking on the phone and the Active Noise Cancellation not working as it should (losing base sound or hearing more background sounds).

Apple AirPods Pro
Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Apple will service affected AirPods Pro for free. You can make an appointment and bring them into an Apple Store or an Authorized Service Provider, or call Apple Support to mail your AirPods in for service. Once Apple receives your product, it will be first examined to determine whether or not it's eligible for the program. Apple will replace AirPods Pro with a confirmed sound issue. AirPods Pro cases are not affected by the sound issue and will not be replaced. Note that this program covers affected AirPods Pro units for two years after they are purchased.

Understanding your AirPod warranty

Depending on the issue you're experiencing with your AirPods or Charging Case, there's a chance you may not have to pay to have them serviced — so long as the problem is covered by Apple's One Year Limited Warranty, AppleCare+, or consumer law. You will need to pay out-of-warranty fees to get your AirPods serviced if your repair is not covered by one of these three things.

The Apple One Year Limited Warranty covers manufacturing defects of iPhones and Apple-branded accessories (like AirPods) for one year, starting from the date you purchased the product. It does not cover damages incurred by accidents or unauthorized modifications of an Apple product. You can check your coverage status here.

Apple Genius Bar
John Moore/Getty Images

AppleCare+ for Headphones extends the Apple One Year Limited Warranty to two years (starting from the date AppleCare+ is purchased). It covers up to two incidents related to accidental damage every 12 months, subject to a service fee of $29 per incident (plus applicable tax). Customers with AppleCare+ can return their damaged AirPods and/or Charging Case to Apple, and they will replace the items. You can check your coverage status here.

Lastly, depending on the country or region where you live or where you purchased your Apple product, your repair may be covered by consumer protection laws. You can learn about your consumer law rights in your region here.

Whether you are under warranty or not, Apple has an after-service guarantee. Apple guarantees any service done to their products for 90 days or until your Apple warranty ends, whichever of the two is longer. This guarantee applies to products serviced by Apple directly or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

Replacement for damaged AirPods versus lost AirPods

If one or both of your AirPods is physically damaged or the Charging Case is damaged, Apple can replace them for an out-of-warranty fee. If AppleCare+ covers your device, you'll be charged a service fee for each incident. 

For AirPods Max, the AppleCare+ fee per incident is $29, and the out-of-warranty fee is dependent on the type of repair required. You'll need to ask an Apple service representative to get an estimate.

For AirPods Pro, the AppleCare+ fee per incident is $29, and the out-of-warranty fee is $89 per AirPod or Charging Case. 

For AirPods, the AppleCare+ fee per incident is $29, and the out-of-warranty fee is $69 per AirPod, $59 for a Charging Case, and $69 for a Wireless Charging Case. Note that all out-of-warranty fees are also subject to tax, plus a $6.95 shipping fee.

Apple AirPods and charging case
Carol Yepes/Getty Images

If you've lost one or both AirPods or your Charging Case, you can purchase a brand new one to replace it. Unfortunately, AppleCare+ for Headphones does not cover AirPods that have been lost or stolen. The lost fee for AirPods Pro is $89 each and $99 for the Charging Case. 

The lost fee for AirPods is $69 each, $59 for a Charging Case, and $79 for a Wireless Charging Case. Lost fees are also subject to tax, plus a $6.95 shipping fee. Before requesting a replacement, you can use the Find My app to locate lost AirPods.

AirPod battery service and AirPod Pro tips replacement

For battery issues covered by the Apple Limited Warranty, AppleCare+, or consumer law, Apple will service AirPods for free. Note that this does not include batteries that have worn down from regular use. 

For these instances, Apple offers out-of-warranty battery service for a fee. This rule's exception is products covered by AppleCare+ with a battery that holds less than 80 percent of its original capacity. For these cases, Apple will service the battery at no additional cost.

Apple AirPods Pro charging case
Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The battery service fee is $79 for AirPods Max, $49 for each AirPod or AirPod Pro, and $49 for Charging Cases. Battery service fees are also subject to tax and a $6.95 shipping fee. For tips on charging your AirPods, check out this Apple Support link.

For the flexible silicone tips that click into AirPods Pro, Apple will replace these ear tips at no additional charge, as long as the Apple Limited Warranty covers the issue. For lost ear tips, or if you just want to have extras on hand, you can purchase them on the Apple Online Store with free shipping.


AirPods Service and Repair

Replace a lost AirPod

Did you lose an AirPod or your Charging Case? You can buy a replacement for a left or right AirPod or the Charging Case. Your replacement will be new. See the replacement fees in the chart, below.

AppleCare+ for Headphones does not cover lost or stolen AirPods.

AirPods ProLost fee
AirPods Pro$ 89 each
Wireless Charging Case for AirPods Pro$ 99
AirPodsLost fee
AirPods$ 69 each
Charging Case$ 59
Wireless Charging Case$ 79

All prices are in U.S. dollars. Out-of-warranty and lost fees are subject to tax and a shipping fee of $ 6.95.

Not sure if it’s lost? Locate lost AirPods.

Replace a lost AirPod
Replace a lost Charging Case

Damaged AirPods

If one or both of your AirPods or Charging Case need replacement because of physical damage, you can replace each damaged item for an out-of-warranty fee.

If your AirPods are covered by AppleCare+ for Headphones, you’ll pay only an AppleCare+ service fee per incident.

AirPods MaxAppleCare+ fee (each incident)Out-of-warranty fee
AirPods Max$ 29
Ask your service representative

For AirPods Max, the out-of-warranty price depends on the type of repair. Ask your service representative for an estimate.

AirPods ProAppleCare+ fee (each incident)Out-of-warranty fee
AirPods Pro$ 29
$ 89 each
Wireless Charging Case for AirPods Pro$ 29
$ 89
AirPodsAppleCare+ fee (each incident) Out-of-warranty fee
AirPods$ 29
$ 69 each
Charging Case$ 29
$ 59
Wireless Charging Case$ 29
$ 69

All prices are in U.S. dollars. Out-of-warranty fees are subject to tax and a shipping fee of $ 6.95.

Replace a damaged AirPod or Charging Case

Battery service

If your battery has a manufacturing issue and it’s covered by the Apple Limited Warranty, AppleCare+, or consumer law, we’ll service it for no additional cost. If your battery issue isn’t covered, we offer battery service for a fee. The Apple Limited Warranty doesn’t cover wear from normal use.

If you have AppleCare+ for Headphones, it offers replacement coverage if your AirPod or Charging Case battery holds less than 80 percent of its original capacity.

AirPodsCovered by AppleCare+Battery service fee
AirPods Max$ 0$ 79
AirPods / AirPods Pro$ 0$ 49 each
Charging Case, Wireless Charging Case (all)$ 0$ 49

All prices are in U.S. dollars. Out-of-warranty fees are subject to tax and a shipping fee of $ 6.95.

Not sure if you have a battery issue? Get help charging your AirPods.

Get battery service for your AirPod or Charging Case

AirPods Pro ear tips

If your AirPods Pro ear tips have an issue that’s covered by the Apple Limited Warranty, they can be replaced for no charge. Contact Apple Support.

If you lose them or you want extra ear tips, you can buy two new pairs of ear tips through the Apple Online Store. If you order them through the Apple Online Store, there’s no shipping fee.

Get ready for service

When you return your AirPods for service, you'll need to take some additional steps, such as:

  • Returning your Charging Case with your AirPods or AirPods Pro. We need the case as part of your service. You don't need to include the Smart Case that comes with AirPods Pro Max.
  • Removing the ear tips from your AirPods Pro. Keep them, because we won’t be able to return them to you.

Replacement airpod pro

I got my broken AirPods Pro replaced for free, here's how

I loved my AirPods Pro, until they started to break while I was on vacation. I don't know how it happened — I take proper, delicate care of them — even if they fell out of my grasp and hit the floor at least a few times. I'm only human.

But my enjoyment of the $249 AirPods Pro started to wear off when they inexplicably started clicking. Especially as I was walking around the sun-drenched strip of Las Vegas, trying to relax to the new Lorde album's breezy tunes.

So when I got home, I went online with Apple customer support, and went through a semi laborious set of prompts. And the result of that call was not good.

After a series of troubleshooting tests (unpairing, resetting, repairing and more), and taking my serial number, the agent began to get me into a repair. Knowing my AirPods Pro were likely out of Apple's warranty plan window, I then asked if the agent could check my warranty status. He confirmed my suspicion, and I began to brace myself for a steep price. 

A very high appraisal

This is where things seemingly fell into an alternate reality. The repair cost, he said, was $278.67. And since I knew how much AirPods Pro cost ($249 from Apple and $271.10 after NYC taxes, or currently $189 from Amazon), I responded with a bit of shock. "For one earbud?" I typed back at the rep. "Why wouldn't I just buy a new pair or a new bud ($89) at that point?" I would later learn exactly why — this rep was giving me an incorrect estimate.

The rep replied "I certainly understand [your] concern," before explaining the why of it all. The cost of repairs, you see, entail work for diagnosis and repair, and that adds up. And so I asked about the pricing for the replacement buds, and told the agent I'd sleep on it.

A new hope arrived

Then my friend Chris, who I often run into at the subway platform near my favorite theater, replied online with what might be the answer to my prayers. It turns out that there's an AirPods Pro Service Program for Sound Issues

If you haven't heard, Apple determined that "a small percentage of AirPods Pro may experience sound issues. Affected units were manufactured before October 2020." And mine were most certainly before that date. There's no real way to check that date online, but you're going to need to give Apple your serial number for them to check. If your AirPods are paired, go to Settings > Bluetooth > tap the 'i' next to your AirPods, and look for the serial number. If you can't pair them, open your AirPods case, and then open the Magnifier app on your phone. Using the viewfinder, look for the serial number inside the lid of your AirPods case.

The program is for AirPods Pro that have "Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone" and/or "Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise."

And my AirPods definitely qualify for the first of those two issues. So I made a quick call to Apple to explain all of this, setting up a drop-off at my local Apple store later. At said Apple store, the incredibly helpful Lauren cleared everything up and got me out of the store with brand new AirPods Pro that I didn't pay for.

Lauren ran a diagnostic on my AirPods Pro to discover that both buds, not just the right one, qualified for replacement. She then gave me replacement buds, and I was on my way.

Before I left, I inquired about the price of a repair. It turns out that the online agent was incorrect. Lauren told me that a repair of an AirPod Pro earbud is $89 plus tax. You know, the same price as buying a new one. 

What you should do with broken AirPods

If you're in warranty, just go to Apple and have it taken care of. If not? Check to see if your AirPods were made before October 2020, and then contact Apple about the service program. And if they claim that repairing one AirPod will cost as much as repairing the whole thing, ask to speak to someone else.

When it costs the same price to buy or repair a product being the same, I start to wonder about waste. Most people might just buy the new one and replace it and move on. I'd wish they chose another option. 

Apple will recycle AirPods, though the process of how they do this raises a lot of questions, as Will Oremus discovered. Apple's looking into improving its recycling abilities, and explained so in 2019 with the Daisy recycling robot

Most impressively, there's PodSwap, which will replace dying batteries from regular AirPods for a $60 fee and send them back to you, so you're not letting them go to waste. But PodSwap only covers batteries, and only for AirPods, not AirPods Pro. 

Maybe with products this impossibly small, it's impossible to get things right. I just ask that you think twice (a few times, even) about how to properly dispose of your AirPods if they stop working right. They're really neat, but little things stack up fast when it comes to waste.

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

AirPods Pro Replacement Program Experience - Unboxing and Everything You Wanted To Know

Apple has quietly extended a repair program for the AirPods Pro that offers free repairs or replacements for earbuds that have issues with noise cancellation or static. Reddit users (via MacRumors) were first to spot the change to Apple’s support page for the repair program, which now notes that the program covers affected AirPods Pro for three years after their first retail sale, rather than two. The page appears to have been updated at the beginning of October.

The support program was originally introduced in October 2020, one year after the original release of the AirPods Pro in 2019. It meant that Apple’s repair program was introduced at the exact point that the warranty on launch units was set to expire. With the extension of the repair program to three years, AirPods Pro bought at launch should now be covered right up until October 2022.

As a reminder, Apple says it will fix the following issues with the AirPods Pro:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you now have a whole extra year to get off your butt and get a free fix as part of the repair program, which, in our experience, often means Apple giving you an on-the-spot replacement pair to take home. To do so, Apple says you should contact its support team or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or else make an appointment at an Apple Store.


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