How to repair or replace broken AirPods

Apple's AirPods are the best wire-free earbuds on the market, but their small size and complex electronics makes them prone to loss or occasional damage. If you're having difficulty with your AirPods turning on or playing correctly, here are the best ways to repair — and, worst case, replace — your beloved buds.

How to repair your AirPods

AirPods and case in a hand

AirPods and case in a hand (Image credit: iMore)

Before you call AppleCare, there are a few steps you can take to try and troubleshoot a malfunctioning set of AirPods.

Troubleshoot your AirPods

Seeing weird lights from your charging case, malfunctioning battery information, or your AirPods just won't turn on? Here are some of the basic issues you may run into and how to troubleshoot them.

How to troubleshoot and reset your AirPods

Clean your AirPods

It's a fact of life: Dirt, dust, lint, grime, ear wax, and more are constantly finding their way onto — or into — your AirPods. You may lose sound quality or your buds may stop charging if your earbuds get too grimy; to fix these issues, you can clean your AirPods in a few easy steps.

How to clean your AirPods

Note: You can't operate on your AirPods

Much as we'd like to give you a guide on how to electronically repair a malfunctioning earbud for your AirPods, the size and complexity of Apple's wireless headphones makes that impossible. iFixit gave the AirPods a 0/10 repairability score — they're nigh-impossible to fix without completely destroying either the case or the earbuds in the process.

Luckily, there is another way…

How to replace your AirPods

Whether you've destroyed or lost your AirPods, you don't have to buy a whole new set to make them shiny and new again.

If you've lost your AirPods

There's no getting around it: the AirPods are small. It's what happens when you chop the cord off a set of in-ear buds; they don't have much mass, and if you don't remember to store them in their pillbox case, you may find yourself frantically searching for an earbud or two.

Thankfully, if you've accidentally misplaced one of your AirPods, iOS 10.3 and Apple's Find My iPhone app will let you hunt it down as long as you're within Bluetooth range.

How to find lost AirPods

If you need to replace your AirPods

You have three options for replacing lost or broken AirPods: under warranty; out of warranty; or total loss.

For any of these options, you'll need any of the following three items:

  • Your AirPods
  • Your AirPods Serial Number (found either on the underside of the AirPods lid casing or by connecting them to your iPhone and going to Settings > General > About > AirPods)
  • Original proof of purchase

If one of your AirPods earbuds (or the case itself) breaks due to manufacturing defect within the first year of owning it, you should be able to get Apple to replace the affected piece(s) for free.

If it's just the battery that's affected, you can replace a single bud (or the case) for $49 each.

If one of your earbuds (or the case) breaks while out of warranty, or they incur accidental damage (i.e. being dropped in a pool) while in warranty, you can get the affected item replaced for $69 (or the full retail value, if you've broken both earbuds and the charging case).

If you've lost an earbud or the case, you can also pay a loss fee to get an item replaced for $69 (or the full retail value, if you've lost the whole set).

  1. Open a support ticket for your AirPods on Apple's website.
  2. Choose the Bring in for Repair option to find a local Apple Store or Authorized Service Provider to replace the affected AirPod. You can alternatively choose to Talk to Apple Support Now, and mail in your malfunctioning pieces for analysis and replacement.Note: If you choose to mail in your broken AirPods, Apple will place a temporary authorization for the full amount of a replacement set of AirPods until the company verifies that the repair is either under warranty or you're just replacing one specific piece.

Questions about repairing or replacing your AirPods?

Let us know in the comments.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.