Airpod Pro Charging issue: Silicone Tip or battery?



During COVID I was tasked with a new responsibility at my job… Manning our school districts new Help Desk.  With this new responsibility came endless hours of phone time so I found myself using my trusty Airpods Pro quite a bit.  One morning I took my beloved pods out of their case and stuck them in my ear and within seconds received the dreaded low battery sound that one can only describe as a robot drowning.  SO I put them back into the case and flip up the top to check the battery and sure enough, the right side had 1%.  It appeared that One AirPods Pro pod was not charging  It started to charge as soon as I put it back in the case and slowly over the course of a few hours got back to 100% and then worked fine after that.   I thought this was strange but chalked it up to a fluke and cleaned out the inserts in the charging case with a dry Q-tip just in case.  After this happened a second day in a row, the bench tech in me instantly suspected a hardware issue but I was not really sure if it the problem was was with the charging case or the Pods.  I did a few Google searches and found a some articles about resetting them as well as the Q-tip fix that I already attempted.  At this point I felt it was time to contact Apple. These were only 10 months old and I had used them pretty infrequently up to this point.

 I had not had to contact Apple for warranty coverage in a long time because I am usually pretty careful with my devices.  I chose to go with online chat but unfortunately My first attempt at warranty replacement was unsuccessful. After explaining my issue,  the result of the 20 min chat was basically to wait till the next AirPod firmware update came out with iOS14.  Again , being a bench tech I was pretty confident that this was not the solution and told the rep as much but they were insistent.  SO I reluctantly caved and waited the few days till iOS 14 came out.  I upgraded my phone, checked a few hours later to see if the firmware took, it didn’t, so I looked around for a way to try to manually update them.  After about 10 searches and reading through multiple reddit articles, I came to the same conclusion as them… There’s no way to force the AirPods to update firmware.  SO I just put them back in my pocket and checked them later in that day.  They finally updated so Charged them up fully and threw them back into my pocket.  Next day, same thing… Right pod 10% and left less then 100%.  SO a second 20 minute chat with Apple resulted in them shipping me out a right pod.   A few minutes after ending the chat with the apple rep I was surprised to get an e-mail for a $92 “hold” bill.  Not really a problem but it wasn’t explained to me at all by the rep.  I wasn’t prepared for that.  I have a clean credit card in my safe back home that I use for such things so I didn’t immediately authorize the charge.  Life being what it is, I forgot about it as My pods were still somewhat usable at this point but A few days later I pulled them out for another help desk session, opened the case to check the battery and sure enough the right side was down to 10 % but this time the left one and the charging case were also down to 50% (picture to the right).    This warranted a third chat with Apple.  After another 20 min chat session, they set up another mail in swap, this time  sending me both pods and the case along  with a $178 “hold” ($192 with tax). 

To this day I am still not sure what it issue was.  AirPods are sort of a mystery as far as hardware issues go.  Googling your AirPod issues usually results in being told to just reset them or unpair/pair them.  While doing some research on this article I did came across this reddit.  Basically it stated that the problem could be the Silicon tip causing the issue which makes sense because the silicon tips could reshape and conforms to the shape of your ear over time which may cause it lift the pod ever so slightly while its in the case.  I was never able to try this but its another troubleshooting tip for anyone having this issue.  Ultimately Apple took care of me on this and stood by their warranty.   It is one of the biggest reasons I purchase apple products.   The new pods charge normally so the issues did go away with the replacement and I am back up and running.

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AirPods Charge levels after being fully charged overnight and taking them out my pocket after 4-5 hours

AirPods Charge levels after being fully charged overnight and taking them out my pocket after 4-5 hours

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