How to check if your AirPods Pro are eligible for free replacement
If you’re experiencing staticky audio or sub-par noise cancellation, you might be able to swap out your earbuds for a new pair.
Apple’s AirPods Pro are some of our favorite wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation. Even though they were first released back in 2019, they keep up with newer wireless earbuds (including the new AirPods 3).
They aren’t flawless though — some AirPods Pro users run into issues charging, with the active noise canceling cutting out, or one of the earbuds not working properly. Most of these issues can be fixed with a simple factory reset, which any user can complete in under a minute.
But if you’re still running into audio issues, it could just be a defect. Apple has admitted to “a small percentage” of AirPods Pro units manufactured before October 2020 experiencing specific sound issues. If your AirPods Pro were made in the affected date range, you can get them replaced at your local Apple store for free.
What problems are covered?
Apple has recognized two sounds issues that were prevalent enough to offer this service program:
- 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 these issues are affecting one, or both, of your earbuds, a specialist can inspect them to make sure they’re covered and give you a replacement pair of earbuds. You will not receive a new charging case.
How do I know if my AirPods Pro are covered?
If you purchased your AirPods Pro before October 2020, they are definitely covered. You can set up an appointment at the Apple store and get your replacement earbuds without any hassle.
If you purchased your AirPods Pro after October 2020, chances are high that they still could have been manufactured before the cut-off date. Unfortunately, there’s no way to enter your serial number online and check you're eligibility on your own — you’ll have to contact Apple Support with a bit of info on your model. This will be easier if you have an iPhone to pair your AirPods Pro with.
- On your iPhone, go to your “Settings” app.
- Scroll down to find and tap on “Bluetooth.”
- Under the “My Devices” header, locate the AirPods Pro you’d like checked and tap on the info icon to the right. Here, you’ll be able to see a model number, serial number, and version code for your unit.
If you don’t have access to this information because you don’t have a phone handy, don’t worry — you can still find your serial number physically. You can find the serial number on the underside of the lid of your charging case. We recommend trying to take a photo and zooming in if you have trouble reading the small text.
- Once you have that information, go to Apple’s support page. Type “AirPods Pro” into the form under the “Tell us what’s happening” header.
- On the next page, click on “Chat” or “Call” under the Contact header.
- Your AirPods Pro may show up under a list of your known devices on the next page. If it doesn’t, just click on “Enter a serial number” and enter the number we found previously.
Every chat or phone call with Apple support is going to be a bit different, but all you need to do is explain the issues you’re having, mention the replacement option, and ask if they can check the serial number to see if your unit is eligible. The support contact may try to walk you through some troubleshooting measures first.
If your unit is eligible, you’ll be directed to make an appointment at your closest Apple store, where a specialist will double-check your AirPods Pro and issue you replacement earbuds if there’s no additional, user-caused damage.
This program is lovely if you’ve experienced problems with your AirPods Pro, but there are some limitations to note:
- The repair program has been around for a while but was recently extended a bit. Users now have until October 2022 to take advantage of this program and replace their earbuds. This is three years after the first retail sale of the units with noted issues.
- Getting a pair of replacement buds does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the AirPods Pro.
It’s possible that Apple could extend the program again, but with the release of the AirPods Max, AirPods 3, and rumors of a new model of AirPods Pro starting to swirl, it’s unlikely the company will drag out repairs on these aging earbuds.
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