Today, I’m bringing you an article that is very exciting to me: A guide to easily recycle and replace AirPods.
If you’ve read any of the articles where I’ve mentioned AirPods ($20 AirPods vs. $160 AirPods), you know that they’re one of my least favorite Apple products. Despite being an early adopter and a fan of their design, I ended up abandoning the product once it started to fail after just one year.
I realized that when you took the price and environmental impact into consideration, in addition to how useless AirPods are after they break down, the product was a major let down. A standard, $20 pair of wired EarPods have a nearly identical sound profile, lasts several years, and have even more controls and features available than AirPods, a product that costs 8x as much.
The gimmick of AirPods being wireless just wasn’t enough. And because Apple doesn’t offer any programs that reward users for recycling AirPods or trading them in, I imagine that the vast majority of AirPods end up in the trash after less than two years of use.
It’s all of these reasons and more that make me super excited to bring to you an excellent solution to replace AirPods: Podswap.
Podswap: The best way to replace AirPods
Podswap is a service that I came across while reading a Cult of Mac article on Apple News. The post was covering how Podswap allows AirPods users to recycle their current AirPods for the low price of $60. This is accomplished by swapping out the old and worn-out battery in your AirPods for a fresh new battery.
Sounds like something Apple should offer, right? Well, it isn’t. That’s why the team at Podswap decided to step up to the plate. They took it upon themselves to dissect AirPods, figure out how to safely replace the battery inside, and then built a business model around doing just that.
The result is a service that’s simple, pro-user, and pro-environment. You’ll save money, reduce waste, and keep your AirPods around for much longer than Apple has built them to last. It’s good news all around.
Podswap, sustainable living, and the Right To Repair movement
In addition to being a great, budget-friendly service, Podswap is also an important step forward in one of the most pivotal movements in tech: Right To Repair.
If you’ve never heard of Right To Repair, it’s a movement inspired by the shortcomings of businesses like Apple. Certain tech companies intentionally make their products difficult to repair by third parties so that you, the owner of these products, will go to Apple for repairs instead of a third party. Right To Repair aims to challenge this on a local and national level.
While I am a proponent of Apple’s repair services (they do a great job, are highly reliable, and will often give you a break), it’s no secret that they charge large fees to repair your Apple products.
In the case of AirPods, Apple hardly makes it worth it to repair or replace AirPods at all. It costs $98 to replace both of your AirPods’ batteries through Apple, which means that most people just end up buying a new pair and throwing their current pair in the bin.
Businesses like Podswap are putting in the work to make it easier to replace AirPods without relying on Apple. As AirPods are not only one of Apple’s most popular products, but also one of the most successful products of all time, making repairability affordable and accessible is key.
Everything Podswap will let you do with your AirPods
Alright, enough politics. Let’s get into the specifics of what Podswap allows you to do, and how much it will cost to replace AirPods with its service.
Of course, the simplest and most popular service offered by Podswap is the ability to replace AirPods. Podswap does this by first mailing you a pair of refurbished AirPods. These won’t be new, so you may notice a few scratches or minor imperfections on the replacements you get in the mail.
Once you receive the new-to-you used AirPods, you have five days to mail your old AirPods to Podswap. If you don’t meet this deadline, an extra fee of $49 will be tacked onto your order.
Shipping is just $5 (you don’t pay to send your old AirPods in, just to have the refurbished pair shipped to you). The overall price is $60 for Gen 1 AirPods. Podswap also accepts Gen 2 AirPods, though that service is sold out at the time of writing, so I can’t confirm the price right now. I would imagine it’s under $80, and most likely $60 or $70.
In total, you should only pay about $65 plus tax for a pair of AirPods that will last as long as your first pair. They arrive sanitized, so there are no gross germs. And you only need to replace the AirPods themselves – you can keep your current case.
Donate your AirPods
Another service that Podswap offers is donation. Just as it sounds, when you donate your AirPods to Podswap, you don’t get a replacement pair in the mail. It’s just to give Podswap more materials to supply other customers with, or at the very least to recycle AirPods responsibly. If you’re already planning to throw your AirPods away, I recommend doing this instead.
Donating your AirPods to Podswap is free. Just add it to your cart, checkout for $0, and Podswap will send you an email with the prepaid shipping label. Just print it out and take it to the post office, and they’ll handle the rest for you.
Unlike replacing your AirPods, when you donate, Podswap will accept a single AirPod, a pair of AirPods, your charging case, AirPods that have been physically damaged, etc. Just send in your AirPods in any condition and Podswap will make sure that they’re reused or recycled.
Swap one AirPod for two
The last service that Podswap currently offers to AirPods users is the ability to trade one AirPod for two AirPods. This allows users to replace AirPods that have lost their left or right partner without needing to pay for the full price of new AirPods.
This follows a very similar process to the normal method to replace AirPods. Podswap sends you a refurbished pair of AirPods, then you mail in your single AirPod within five days. You just need to let Podswap know which AirPod you’re sending in (left or right).
Swapping one AirPod for two costs a bit more than an even swap of two for two. You’ll be paying about $89. But I think it’s a pretty fair trade all things considered and a great option for someone who’s lost one of the AirPods.
Buy a protective case for your AirPods
Lastly, AirPods users can buy a protective case for their AirPods charging case from Podswap. This is pretty straightforward; just a silicon case that slides over your existing AirPods case to prevent scratches. It even has a clip so that you can clip AirPods to your belt loop.
This product normally costs $10 but is currently on sale for just $5. A great way to protect your AirPods charging case and support Podswap in the process!
What Podswap doesn’t do
Now that we’ve covered everything you can do through Podswap, let’s cover everything you can’t do. Because, sadly, there are some things that Podswap doesn’t offer (yet).
First, you can’t replace AirPods Pro through Podswap. They are trying to add this service (you can sign up for their waitlist here) but haven’t been able to yet.
Second, you can’t replace your AirPods charging case. If you’re having issues with your case, you’ll have to buy one elsewhere (Apple sells charging case replacements on its website).
Third, you can’t have your own AirPods sent back to you through Podswap. When you replace AirPods with Podswap, you get a refurbished pair of AirPods that used to belong to someone else. Then you send yours in to be refurbished and delivered to another user. Once you send them in, it’s the last time you’ll see your old buds.
And fourthly, Podswap doesn’t sell brand new AirPods. You won’t get a perfectly shiny, out-of-box experience. It’s a refurbishing brand, so bear in mind that you’ll probably end up with a few scratches and scuffs on your replacement buds.
Other ways to recycle and replace AirPods
Is Podswap not for you? Not to worry! There are plenty of other options that allow you to recycle and replace AirPods. These options are not only free, but some will even pay you for your used AirPods. Here they are!
Return your AirPods to Apple for free
The simplest way to recycle AirPods is to send them back to Apple through Apple’s recycling program. You can do this with any of your old Apple electronics. For certain products, Apple will give you store credit for trading them in (recent editions of the iPad, iPhone, or Mac), while older products and accessories typically don’t get you any credit.
AirPods sadly fall into this latter category. You won’t get any cash when you recycle AirPods through Apple. What you do get, however, is the satisfaction of keeping your electronic waste down. This is important because electronic waste is one of the fastest-growing forms of waste in the world.
To return your AirPods to Apple for recycling, just click here, scroll down until you see Select your device to get a trade-in estimate., and click Other devices. From the dropdown menu, choose AirPods and follow the rest of the steps to recycle AirPods with Apple for free.
Have Apple repair or replace AirPods
Another way to replace AirPods through Apple is to pay to have them repaired or replaced. There are only certain conditions under which Apple will allow you to do this, though I think most users looking to replace or repair their AirPods will meet these conditions.
If your AirPods have been physically damaged and need to be replaced without AppleCare+, you’ll end up paying:
- $89 for each AirPods Pro bud or your AirPods Pro charging case
- $69 for each AirPods bud
- $59 for your AirPods charging case
- $69 for your AirPods wireless charging case
If you need to replace your AirPods’ battery without AppleCare+, you’ll pay:
- $49 for each AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods charging case, AirPods wireless charging case, and AirPods Pro charging case battery replacement
If you’ve lost one of your AirPods and don’t have AppleCare+, you’ll end up paying the same prices as you would for replacing a physically damaged AirPod. The only difference is that damaged AirPods can get discounted service through AppleCare+, while lost AirPods will cost you the same amount with or without AppleCare+.
As you can see after looking at these prices, Podswap is offering a pretty great service for the price.
Sell your AirPods to a third-party buyer or another user
If your AirPods are still in decent condition, you can make a few bucks off of them. This is a good option for someone who has owned their AirPods for a few months and has decided that they just aren’t for them.
9to5Mac has a thorough article on how to sell your AirPods to a third-party buyer, which you can read here. In fact, 9to5Mac will even buy your AirPods from you for $40 (Gen 1) and $50 (Gen 2). They just have to be in working condition. Third-party buyers are great because, unlike selling over eBay, you’re guaranteed to make a sale.
If you want to put in extra work for a little extra cash, you can always sell your AirPods on an online marketplace. eBay is the biggest, though social media marketplaces make it easy to sell AirPods locally. It looks like a pair of used AirPods in working condition can sell for about $90 on eBay. It’s just a matter of landing the sale!
Recycle AirPods for free
Not only can you recycle AirPods through Apple, but there are tons of places that recycle electronic waste for free. Most Best Buy locations have a bin inside specifically for recycling small electronics like cables and headphones.
Tons of other local recycling shops take electronics. Just search for “electronic waste recycling” in your area and recycle AirPods at the location nearest you.
Buy used AirPods online
Finally, a great way to replace AirPods is to buy a refurbished or used pair online. Just like selling your AirPods, you can find a ton of options on sites like eBay, Amazon, and local online marketplaces.
Replace your AirPods before you throw them away
If you’ve learned anything from this article, I hope it’s that you now know it’s easier to recycle or replace AirPods than you may have thought before. Not only is this better for your wallet, but it’s better for the environment, too.
For more tips on everything AirPods and Apple, check out the rest of the blog here at AppleToolBox. And don’t miss the upcoming Apple Event on April 20th, 2021!
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