We’ve all been there. You’ve just left the house, got on the train or set foot in the gym, mentally prepared for the dopamine rush of that first killer track when your Apple AirPods Pro earbuds trigger that soul-crushing 'out of charge' jingle. Your heart sinks. Disaster. Now you've actually got to listen to the outside world for the first time in months (shudder).
The unfortunate loss of battery happens to the best of us. But what if your AirPods Pro just stopped working, period? That’s exactly what happened to me last week when both my left and right earbuds decided enough was enough while I was three tracks deep into my most recent Spotify Wrapped playlist.
It’s worth clarifying that my AirPods Pro – which I purchased in October 2020 – were fully charged, and nothing was awry with their Bluetooth connection. I could even still hear the “ba-da!” sound in both ears when connecting and reconnecting them to my iPhone, but audio, from any source – YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, you name it – was a non-starter. They were dead.
In truth, I assumed that something like this just happens to every pair of AirPods after a certain period of time. Like iPhones, they just pack up – or at least begin to slow down – after three or four years of use (a misconception that TechRadar’s Senior Phones Editor, Alex Walker-Todd, suggests you should use to your advantage if you’re looking for a cheap iPhone).
But no! To my relief, the good folks over at Apple’s Covent Garden store in London replaced both my AirPods Pro earbuds completely free of charge.
Under Apple’s extended warranty program – or Exchange and Repair Extension Program (E1) – my AirPods Pro were deemed part of a faulty batch of products manufactured before October 2020, and I was entitled to a free replacement pair. For context, the AirPods Pro first came to market in October 2019.
As it turns out, Apple has been running this AirPods Pro replacement offer since November 2020 – we even reported on it ourselves – and the Genius Bar technicians in the store I visited were “very surprised [my AirPods Pro had] lasted this long.”
Interestingly, our original report detailed a two-year eligibility window to make use of the replacement policy, but my AirPods Pro earbuds were purchased in October 2020, and I was still offered a replacement pair.
What’s more, Apple said the majority of faulty AirPods Pro products were affected by “crackling or static sounds” or “Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected,” where mine were simply no longer able to process audio.
The point being: if you’re still rocking a pair of original AirPods Pro earbuds and they suddenly (or gradually) die on you, Apple may still replace them for free. I almost fell victim to my own Apple cynicism and narrowly avoided a $249 / £249 / AU$399 hole in my pocket, so it's worth remembering that the multi-trillion-dollar tech giant can be a reasonable beast on occasion.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that your faulty AirPods Pro are also part of that aforementioned pre-October 2020 batch – and Apple does typically charge a fee for battery replacements and general AirPods servicing if they aren't – but there’s no harm in asking the question.
If you're not so lucky, and are in the market for a completely new pair of AirPods Pro earbuds, check out our guides to the cheapest AirPods sales and best AirPods Pro deals for your region right now.
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Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.
Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.