AirPods: People Are Flipping Out About the AirPods Battery Warranty

It's bad for your wallet and the environment.

For all the criticism over planned obsolescence, Apple’s warrantee policy for the much-loved AirPods sure seems designed to make you buy a new pair within two years.

That’s because while the lithium ion battery within them should provide up to five hours of charge, heavy use reduces your charge capacity. Run through your battery, and it’ll likely cost you $138 to replace both year-old batteries, which is nearly the cost of a new pair. The stingy policy was first picked up on Reddit.

Indeed, users save a paltry $21 if they choose to take their AirPods in for repair more than a year after they’ve been purchased. This doesn’t include a new charging case, which would cost an additional $69 to fix. The warranty doesn’t make economic sense and incentivizes users to throw away their current pair. This is bad for consumers’ wallets and is at odds with Apple’s commitment to environmental friendliness, which the company touted loudly at its latest hardware announcement.

Apple has long been accused of planned obsolescence — or selling products that quickly need to be replaced — and AirPods battery life is more evidence. One redditor, recounted that their pair barely lasts an hour 20 months after purchasing. Apple’s warranty explicitly states it will only offer reduced fees for defective units, not accidental damage or daily wear.


“The Apple Limited Warranty covers a defective battery, but it doesn’t cover wear from normal use,” reads the AirPods support page. “If your battery has a manufacturing defect and it’s covered by our warranty or consumer law, we’ll service it at no additional cost. If your battery service isn’t covered, we can replace your battery for a fee.”

AirPods: How Can I Fix Broken AirPods?

If you notice your AirPods acting up in less than a year, take them into the Apple Store because there’s a chance you could get a battery replacement for $49 per bud. If you accidentally step on them or just use them so much they begin to fade, the fee will be bumped to $69.

Apple also does not offer the AppleCare+ service for the AirPods, which extends the warranty of devices like the iPhone and Apple Watch to two years and two instances of accidental damage.

AirPods: How AirPods’ Warranty Stacks Up the iPhone’s

AppleCare+ aside, it costs $549 and $599 to repair an out-of-warranty iPhone XS and XS Max respectively, roughly half of the price of each phone. That’s a huge improvement over the AirPods policy, which puts the user on the hook for almost 90 percent of the costs.

Unsplash / Ben Kolde

To be fair, the company never provided repair services or AppleCare+ for its $29, wired EarPods. But it also seems fair to point out that the AirPods cost about five times as much.

AirPods: How AirPods’ Warranty Is Bad For the Environment

The disincentive to repair your AirPods also seems at odds with Apple’s recent touting of its environmental efforts. At the recent iPhone launch, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of environment policy, pledged to begin using more recycled materials for its devices and releasing products that last longer. The AirPods warranty is a clear contradiction to that.

AirPods are labeled as electronics waste because of the tiny lithium-ion batteries inside of them. There is a major issue with consumers not responsibly recycling e-waste, which need to be tossed in specialized bins or facilities. In 2016, 44.5 million metric tons of electronics were thrown away, enough to build nine Great Pyramids.

NPD Group estimated that 900,000 AirPods were sold as of September 2017, roughly a year after their release. Apple has clearly pushed consumers to buy the wireless earbuds by eliminating the headphone jack from its smartphones. The company likely won’t backtrack from this marketing strategy, so if AirPods don’t become cheaper to repair or easier to recycle, there are going to be a lot of white earbuds in those nine pyramids of e-waste in the future.

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