How PodSwap Makes AirPods Sustainable

Brand-new batteries in refurbished AirPods

Key Takeaways

  • PodSwap ships you refurbished AirPods to replace your dead ones.
  • Only regular AirPods are currently offered.
  • Apple doesn’t offer an easy battery-replacement service.
Closeup of someone holding several earbuds with a case in the background.
Daniel Romero / Unsplash

Send your old, dead-battery AirPods to PodSwap, and they’ll send you a replacement pair, complete with brand-new batteries. This fantastic service turns AirPods from an expensive, disposable luxury into a sustainable product. 

AirPod batteries last a few years, max, and when they’re dead, they’re dead. Apple doesn’t offer a battery replacement, although if you play it right, you can trick Apple into “repairing” them for you. There is an out-of-warranty battery service available, but this costs $49 for each unit, and you have to jump through hoops to even qualify. PodSwap, on the other hand, is cheaper and easier. 

"Disposable gadgets have definitely (slowly) conditioned us to spend more money on tech over time," Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review, told Lifewire via email.

"We get used to buying new devices every few years, instead of buying products that will last."

PodSwap

PodSwap works like this: You place an order for replacement AirPods, and they’re shipped out the same day. When they arrive, you put your old AirPods in the box (you keep the charging case), and send them back.

Pair the replacements with your old case, and you’re done. PodSwap then takes your old AirPods, cleans them up, and replaces the batteries, ready for the next customer.

"It's also a huge waste of materials that don't tend to break down well in landfills, so I personally don't like the disposable direction tech is taking."

It’s an ingenious model, and popular. The founders say that there is "a global demand for our service." Currently, the offer is limited to the US, and to AirPods.

AirPods Pro battery swaps are not yet available. If you lost an AirPod, you can opt for a more expensive two-for-one replacement, and if you don’t send your old AirPods back, then PodSwap simply will charge your credit card. Easy.

Why Doesn’t Apple Do This?

The cynical take is that Apple doesn’t offer easy battery replacements because it wants you to buy new AirPods.

"One of the problems with buying Apple products is that there's no way to replace the internal components on your own," says Freiberger. "They essentially force you to send your device to an Apple Store and spend more money with them to get it working again."

A more generous commenter might say that Apple just isn’t interested in the logistics of it, although it does manage to replace batteries in iPhones. Either way, third-party repair shops like PodSwap are essential, not just in a practical sense but in a moral sense.

Right to Repair

In reality, throwing a pair of AirPods in the trash probably wastes less material than discarding the packaging from your weekly trip to the supermarket, but e-waste is environmentally dirty.

Closeup of AirPods Pro in the charging case.
David Leveque / Unsplash

"It's also a huge waste of materials that don't tend to break down well in landfills," says Freiberger, "so I personally don't like the disposable direction tech is taking."

It is also wasteful to dispose of something that is still perfectly serviceable when you replace its battery. Especially when AirPods cost so much, and are otherwise very resilient.

Think about all those old pairs of wired EarPods you still have strewn around the house. They probably all still work just fine. There’s no reason AirPods shouldn’t be similarly long-lived.

PodSwap supports Right to Repair activism, started by the folks at iFixit. Right to Repair lobbies governments around the world to force tech companies to make product repairable. And while this sounds like a one-way proposition, in the end it’s beneficial for the vendors, too.

Knowing that a device can be repaired might make you more likely to buy it. 

"Now that there are replaceable batteries offered for AirPods," John Stevenson, marketing specialist at exam prep site My GRE Exam Prepation, told Lifewire via email. "I think I'll feel much more secure in my purchase knowing that it will last me longer before having to replace them."

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