I've always loved Apple's AirPods, ever since its first release back in 2017, but I've never had to book a Genius appointment at an Apple Store… until I bought the AirPods Pro (2019) in 2021, due to the crackling issue.
This was a common issue as it turned out – Apple has its own support document all about it, where one or both earbuds start to crackle, and there's no way to fix it on your own.
I've had to replace mine every year since, so I'm up to my third pair of AirPods Pro since July 2020, and while it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it's irritating that it happens at all.
I've got the AirPods Pro 2 on pre-order regardless, but the one upgrade I'm hoping for, ignoring the features of improved noise cancellation and touch gestures for volume, is to not visit a Genius Bar at an Apple Store for my AirPods Pro ever again.
A story about my crackle
It's a slow process from it being the occasional static, to being so loud that you have to take the AirPod out of your ear. The first time didn't seem to be as bad back in 2021 – the left earbud would crackle now and again, but it would be more prevalent once 'Noise Cancellation' was enabled.
After a visit to an Apple Store in Sheffield, the whole AirPods Pro unit was replaced and I thought that was it. But it wasn't. Instead, a year on I experienced the same issue for my right earbud, but the crackle was even louder, as if something had come loose inside.
Another visit to an Apple Store (Manchester this time – I really did the rounds) beckoned, and after a Genius confirmed that both were in fact at fault, they were replaced. It was interesting as I had explained the issue to someone else there while I waiting, and it sounded like this was a much more common issue than I had realized.
It's interesting how one fault like this can ruin the moments when you need to sit down and work away on something, with the AirPods blasting out a podcast or a favorite album, and all you'd hear would be crackle.
Maybe I should be more annoyed about the whole situation, but when the noise-cancellation drowns out a noisy coffee machine at my nearest coffee house, all is forgiven. These are still one of the best earphones I've ever owned, and having them pair between my iPhone, my Mac, and my Apple Watch for when I'm running saves so much hassle.
So am I looking forward to the AirPods Pro 2? Of course – I just hope that they last longer than a year this time, regardless of how painless it was to replace them at both Genius appointments.
Sign up to receive daily breaking news, reviews, opinion, analysis, deals and more from the world of tech.
Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.