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What to do with old and dying AirPods: Recycling, replacing, and selling

AirPods originally launched back in 2016 and over the last five years, the lineup has grown to feature three distinct models. Particularly if you’ve had the original first-gen or second-gen AirPods for several years, they might be on the brink of dying with the batteries wearing out. Let’s look at several options for what to do with old/dying AirPods beyond just paying Apple for replacements or buying a new pair.

Apple doesn’t specifically share how many charge cycles to expect from the batteries in AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max. How long they last for you will depend in large part on how much you use and charge your AirPods.

Background on dying AirPods

While AirPods are in warranty, faulty batteries are covered. But for many, the batteries are likely to die when AirPods are out of warranty.

Instead of just buying a new pair and tossing (or hopefully recycling them with Apple : ), let’s look at some other options.

What to do with old/dying AirPods

Recycling AirPods

For now, there’s no trade-in program for AirPods with Apple, but you can recycle them at any Apple Store (Best Buy and Staples too) if you don’t mind not getting any cash for them. We’ll cover more on this below, but you can also check the trade-in value with our partner here for a paid trade.

AirPods battery service with Apple

With Apple’s official battery service for worn-out AirPods, you’re looking at $49 for AirPods and AirPods Pro (per headphone), and the same rate goes for any of the AirPods charging cases.

What to do with old AirPods - walkthrough Apple battery service details

Another way you’ll be covered beyond the one-year standard warranty is if you bought AppleCare+ coverage for your AirPods. In that case, you’ll be covered for two years, and there’s no deductible for battery service in that window.

At this point, if you have issues with AirPods Max, you’ll be covered under warranty.

Bought AirPods with a credit card?

If you bought your AirPods with a credit card, you may have an extended warranty already in place. This isn’t quite as seamless as if you’re in Apple’s standard warranty window or have AppleCare, but may be worth checking into.

Reach out to your card provider to see if your card adds additional one or two-year coverage to purchases like electronics and how to proceed if you’re covered. Often times, you’ll pay Apple for the repair and then submit the receipt and other proof needed to your bank/card provider to be reimbursed.

Replace dying AirPods with PodSwap

What to do with old AirPods - PodSwap walkthrough

PodSwap is a relatively new service, and it looks like a great option to get your AirPods batteries replaced at a nice discount. You can swap in your gen 1 or gen 2 AirPods with dead batteries for a refurbished and sanitized pair with “restored battery life.”

The company has indeed found a way to replace AirPods’ batteries with “specially developed equipment.” You’re not getting an official Apple battery here, but PodSwap says it’s done independent testing to make sure “The batteries we use are similar in performance to your original ones from Apple.”

PodSwap gives your AirPods new life for just $59.99 (the same would run $99 from Apple). You’re getting “good as new battery life,” a 90-day warranty, free shipping, and the refurbished AirPods have been fully cleaned and sanitized.

PodSwap is working on offering a full replacement program for AirPods Pro too.

Lost one?

And if you’ve lost one of your AirPods, PodSwap has a one for two AirPods replacement option for $89.99.

Another option that’s mostly helpful if you’ve lost one of your AirPods is to check out people selling individual AirPods on services like eBay and Craigslist. You can also find refurbished AirPods and AirPods Pro at a discount, but that can be riskier since it’s hard to know the true condition of the battery (or even the actual headphones).

If you’re thinking of going for refurbished/used AirPods from any source, a UV device sanitizer can be a good investment and of course useful for more than just AirPods.

Selling and trade-in options

If you’re looking to sell your AirPods, check out a quote from 9to5Mac’s trade-in partner Myphones Unlimited. They make it seamless to see how much your AirPods are worth and get cash for them without the potential headaches of selling them on your own.

For a detailed look at the best way to trade-in your AirPods, check out our full guide:

If you’re up for a little more legwork, of course you can always give a shot at selling your AirPods on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, etc. You can often sell them for a little more, but that usually comes with more time and potential risks.

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.