In his latest video, Pironel says the “AirPods Pro” are not designed to be serviced or repaired, as the charging case cannot be opened without damaging the device, effectively making it disposable. For this reason, iFixit’s repair experts gave Apple’s 1st and 2nd generation AirPods and AirPods Pro a repairability rating of 0 out of 10. Pillonel says the AirPods Pro’s charging case is the standard one for his AirPods, but that’s not yet guaranteed to be free from damage.
Hardware prototyping consultant Ken Pillonel set out to solve some of the AirPods Pro’s repair issues with a 3D-printed replacement case, replacing the Lightning charging port with a USB-C connector.
After developing similar solutions for his AirPods of the 1st and 2nd gens, Pillonel turned to the non-openable “AirPods Pro” charging case, which is now inevitably obsolete due to the three built-in batteries. I tried to create a solution that breathed new life into it. Pillonel has developed a downloadable 3D printed replacement case (available on GitHub). This allows technicians to selectively break existing cases to access the internals and perform repairs.
His USB-C, the AirPods Pro’s standard port, increases the chances of long-term serviceability, Pillonel suggests. Pillonel is also responsible for similar changes, adding a USB-C connector to the iPhone and a Lightning connector to the Samsung Galaxy A51.
You can buy replacement batteries online, but you can’t buy replacement Lightning connectors. This means that the Lightning port cannot be replaced if it breaks unless it’s powered by another AirPods charging case. To remedy this, Pillonel now offers a ready-to-install replacement USB-C connection with an integrated circuit for the AirPods Pro.
EU law will require Apple to switch new AirPods models to USB-C from late 2024, and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple will be the first iPhone model with a USB-C port this year. Apple launched a self-service repair program last year to address criticism of the repairability of its devices, but the longevity of devices like AirPods I have doubts about the possibilities.