Right: shiny new AirPods 2 on a wireless charging mat. Left: forlorn and abandoned AirPods 1.
It doesn’t seem like twenty minutes since you dropped $160 on the original AirPods, and yet look at you now. If you haven’t already spent $200 more on the new AirPods 2, then you’re thinking about it. And so you should, because AirPods 2 are superb. Yet surely few of us can just regard AirPods as disposable, so to help you afford the new ones —or to help assuage any guilt at your spending habits —here’s what to do with your old AirPods.
You won’t get $200 for them and you may not get anything at all, but there are ways to get some cash and there are some ways to do good with them. Plus whatever you choose, there are also some things you must do in order to let those old AirPods work for someone else.
Trading in or recycling
Stop us if you’ve heard this one. Apple has a trade-in program where you get money for your old device and if it’s really not worth anything, they’ll take it from you anyway and pop it through their extensive recycling system.
Except they don’t do anything with AirPods, the company’s most rapidly deteriorating product.
Strictly speaking, you could return AirPods via Apple’s last category, “Other devices”. But it will only be for recycling, you won’t get a trade-in rebate.
Similarly, you can sell or buy a dozen different Apple products at Gazelle, but not AirPods.
If the makers and one of the major repurposing sites won’t touch AirPods, there are others who will. BuyBackWorld takes AirPods and currently will pay up about 30 bucks for them. That’s for typically used AirPods. If yours are broken, you’ll get no more than a dollar for them. Equally, if they’re used but in brilliant condition, you might get $37.
And if you have never used your original AirPods and they’re still in their sealed box, well, you can get $70, but just take them out and use them.
Similarly, there is a firm called MyPhonesUnlimited which quotes $50 for AirPods in good condition.
Note that AppleInsider hasn’t used either of these firms, and there may well be others too, which may give you a clue to what we’ve done with ours.
Sell them yourself
We’ll keep this short. You could sell your AirPods on services such as eBay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. There are lot of AirPods on them at the moment and in most cases all you can see is how much people are asking for, not how much they’re getting.
Except if you do an Advanced search on eBay.com, you can get details of recently completed sales. According to that, people have been getting between $85 and $130 for original AirPods.
If this were the other way around, if we were telling you how to buy original AirPods, we’d be throwing in phrases like buyer beware now. There are a suspicious number of ‘brand new’ AirPods 1 out there, and it’s also common to see people trying to sell the left and right AirPods separately.
Buying AirPods this way isn’t straightforward, and trying to sell yours in that market isn’t going to be much easier.
We’ve yet to see a single listing on any such site that mentions how the battery life has deteriorated in the AirPods, either, so you can expect that a lot of sales are followed up by complaints and refunds.
Speaking of battery life
There are a lot of very good reasons to buy AirPods 2, and an even better one is because the minuscule batteries in your old set are nearly depleted. If you got the AirPods at the earliest time you possibly could, December 2016, then it’s probable that they now last for half the time they used to, and possibly even less.
These are original AirPods from December 2016 and their battery level after less than two hours use
It’s a sad fact, but the battery life in your new AirPods 2 is going to decrease in exactly the same way. So give it a year or two and now you may find that it’s convenient to use the old ones while the new pair is being recharged. If AirPods lose half their battery life but you have two of them, you’ll effectively keep that same long listening time.
You’ve just got to put up with seeing those unused AirPods 1 in your case or on your desk for a couple of years first. If the guilt at having expensive items unused gets too much, you could give them away as a present.
You should tell the person about the battery life, though, and you absolutely must prepare the AirPods.
Preparing old AirPods
Whether you give your original AirPods away, whether you sell them or trade them in, you need to unpair them from your iPhone.
Strictly speaking, you have to unpair them from your iCloud account. It may look as if you’ve paired the AirPods to your iPhone but in truth you’ve paired them to every device that’s signed in to your iCloud account. This is how you can switch so easily to listening on your iPad.
It’s easiest to unpair your AirPods via iCloud.com
So the quickest way to undo this is to go to iCloud.com on a Mac and click on the Find iPhone icon.
This calls up a map showing where all of your Apple devices are now, or were the last time they were switched on. Find your AirPods, click on them and then on the screen that appears, click on Remove from Account.
Now, in theory, you can just hand the AirPods over to someone. In practice, you should also give them a bit of a clean —these things have been in your ears for years, after all. Apple gives extensive advice on how to wipe AirPods down without damaging them.
It’s hard not to recommend that you get some cash for your old AirPods, especially when they cost so much and they cost it so recently. Yet the aim is to get the maximum value, and given how your old ones will be useful spares in the future, there is a benefit to hanging on to them.
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