Your original Apple AirPods are now officially 'Vintage' – but what does that mean?

Apple AirPods
Image credit: TechRadar

Earlier this week, Apple updated its list of 'vintage' and 'obsolete' products. The vintage category now includes the original HomePod, the iPhone X and the first generation AirPods earbuds. But what does that actually mean?

Apple generally classifies products as 'vintage' when they haven't been sold for five years or more. Products become 'obsolete' after seven, although sometimes that happens irrespective of timescale: all Monster-branded Beats products are obsolete no matter when they were last sold.

These classifications matter because eventually they will affect your ability to get broken or faulty products repaired. They're usually an indication that Apple will stop offering software or firmware updates if it hasn't already done so.

What does it mean now that the OG AirPods are "vintage"?

Vintage means that the clock is now ticking on hardware repairs: Apple and third party providers will continue to offer service and repair options for another two years, subject to parts availability. After the two years are up, you'll find it increasingly difficult to get parts for your product.

Of course, by this point, if you had AppleCare on your AirPods, it already expired a long time ago – so even though parts may be available, the cost of repairs might not be worthwhile. Given the price of the best budget earbuds today, you'd probably be better of just buying a newer, smarter, better-sounding pair.

For first, second or third generation AirPods, swapping out a damaged bud is currently $69 in the US; a first-gen swap isn't offered by Apple in the UK but the charge for a second or third generation damage swap is £69.

What do I need to do about my vintage Apple hardware?

In the short term, you don't need to do anything: just keep on using it as normal. But you can expect operating system updates to cease in the not too distant future. Apple still provides updates for the first-gen AirPods and HomePods – it released firmware version 6.8.8 for the AirPods last month and added Enhance Dialog to the first-gen HomePods in May – but once a product moves into the vintage category you can expect it to fall off the supported devices list. For example, the iPhone X can't get the current version of iOS, iOS 17.

The status is also important if you're considering buying older Apple products second hand or refurbished. Vintage status means they now have a more limited lifespan, and that means you should shop or bid accordingly: their value just dropped considerably.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.