A New Startup Is ‘Like a SodaStream’ for AirPod Replacements
Podswap refurbishes dead AirPods in a big win for the environment
AirPods are notoriously difficult to repair. It’s a common problem with minimalist product design: With so many components sealed into a tight, seamless gadget, replacing vital pieces like a battery becomes an outlandishly destructive effort.
In its repair guide for the original AirPods, iFixit found that it’s simply not possible to access internal parts without completely annihilating the outer casing. AirPods earned a rare zero out of 10 on the company’s “repairability” scale.
Now, years after AirPods’ debut, it seems that someone has worked out a solution. Podswap is a new startup that purports to offer a battery replacement program for AirPods: You mail in your busted buds and get a “good as new” pair in exchange.
In his profile of the company, iFixit’s Kevin Purdy wrote that the service is “like a SodaStream canister exchange, but for headphones that might otherwise be headed to a landfill.”
Podswap was tight-lipped about its process, which is less expensive than Apple’s official replacement program. The company told iFixit only that it “involves ‘specialized equipment and precision robotics’ in a ‘somewhat automated process.’” iFixit claims it was able to confirm that the company is genuinely repairing AirPods rather than merely swapping them out by tracking a specific unit’s serial number.
This is a substantial win for the environment, which is already burdened by an e-waste crisis. Much has been written about the disposability of Apple’s AirPods — a problem directly related to how difficult they are to repair — and it’s not like these things are biodegradable. For the best read on the subject, check out this piece by OneZero’s Will Oremus: