AirPods are a handy gadget to have, but their usefulness is short-lived if the charging case becomes damaged. Without a functioning charging case, the earpieces are of no use. Unfortunately, instead of providing the option to repair the existing case, Apple would rather have you purchase a brand-new one.
But now if you’re willing to break your warranty and put your faith in the hands of a clever tech tinkerer, you can get the printed circuit board (PCB) needed to replace the battery in your AirPods Pro case and give it a USB-C port while you’re at it.
The mod comes from Ken Pillonel’s Exploring the Simulation YouTube channel. Pillonel’s, who is a Robotics engineer, is the same guy who brought you an Android phone with a Lightning port and an iPhone with USB-C.
The design of the charging cases for these devices makes them almost impossible to open without causing harm. It appears that the company has not taken any steps to make it easier, even to replace the battery.
When Pillonel attempted to take the cover off the charging case for the AirPods Pro, he discovered that while it was simpler than with previous models, it was still not possible to do so without causing damage. iFixit gave them a repairability score of 0, saying they’re “theoretically semi-serviceable,” but their “non-modular, glued-together design and lack of replacement parts makes repair both impractical and uneconomical.”
This time, he’s selling the AirPods Pro part to make the repair as easy as possible for anyone who wants to attempt it. You can get a single supplying the USB-C flex PCB from his online store for about $38.
About six months ago, he posted a video demoing how to make a PCB and 3D-printed case for repairing the first- and second-generation AirPods and equipping them with USB-C.
Pillonel is currently selling the custom PCB he designed that’s meant to fix an AirPods Pro case’s Lightning port by replacing it with a functioning USB-C one. With the world moving to USB-C, including via an EU mandate, this could give AirPods Pro even more longevity.
Pillonel’s homemade PCB is thought-provoking. If a YouTuber can acquire the necessary tools and establish a shop that claims to enable individuals to retain their AirPods Pro case even when the battery fails or the port becomes faulty, why doesn’t Apple do the same?