A Little Rain on My AirPod Parade

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My first two posts on my experiences with Apple’s AirPods (here and here) were very positive. In fact, the more I’ve used them, the more I enjoy them. However, some issues started appearing a couple of weeks ago and they have grown progressively worse since. I think I am at the point of having to go to the Apple Store to start the process to get a replacement set.

Two weeks ago, I first noticed that my right AirPod wasn’t always responding to double taps to trigger Siri. Eventually, the taps would no longer register at all. The left AirPod still worked fine, but this obviously was worrisome for a fairly new $150 accessory.

If this were the only problem, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Even if I did decide to return them, there wasn’t any rush. I could wait until they were more widely available so I could do an immediate swap. However, things started getting worse on the right side. Next, the ear detection gave out. Again, my left AirPod still works fine, but neither putting the right one in or taking it out generates the familiar tone, or does anything to start or stop what I am listening to. I tried cleaning the sensors, which is the most common suggestion, but to no avail.

Since the right bud was still playing just fine, I again decided to try and delay a return for a while, so I wouldn’t have to do without my AirPods for potentially several weeks. Unfortunately, just a couple of days ago the final straw broke. The audio on the right side started randomly cutting out, and once it cut out, it stayed out. I have gone through the solutions to common problems on the Apple Discussion boards and a couple of other places. I have unpaired and re-paired. I have done the reset process using the AirPods case’s button. None of this worked for more than a minute or two.

Today, I had some luck rebooting my iPhone when the first cutout happened. The right AirPod came back and worked as a prior for around an hour, but then it cut out again. I think this was it. I am going to make an appointment at my local Apple Store next week and get the ball rolling on a warranty exchange. I love the AirPods, but when they work and are their normal, easy to use selves. Right now they are more an exercise in frustration than anything else.

While I can’t be sure what is causing these issues, I do suspect one thing that may have contributed. I slept with the AirPods a few times, and since I tend to toss and turn a bit through the night, both ended up out of my ears and in the bed most of the times that I did this. On at least one occasion, they ended up under me at some point, where I found them in the morning. However, I stopped doing this over a week before any issues that occurred, so I may be grasping at straws. This is all I can come up with other than the right one just having manufacturing defects, because I haven’t gotten my AirPods wet and haven’t dropped them.

I am curious if any other AirPod users out there may have had similar issues. Has anyone else had the double-tap fail, had ear detection stop working, or had audio cutouts on one bud? If so, were there any solutions that worked for you short of replacement? If so, I would love to hear from you. Let me know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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4 thoughts on “A Little Rain on My AirPod Parade”

  1. The problems you described regarding the right AirPod are happening to me in exactly the same order. I also sleep with my buds on and they sometimes end up under me in bed. This shouldn’t lead to the issues I am experiencing though. This has been an issue for the last month or so. I also experienced a significant loss of sound in my left AirPod relative to the right one. No matter what I tried the left bud was about 50% as loud as the right bud. I took it back to the Apple Store and they ran a few tests, cleaned it, and still couldn’t get it to work. So they finally swapped out the left bud only.

    The right bud began to work properly yesterday so I am going to wait awhile longer before returning it. I must say I am a bit disappointed that $150 headphones are experiencing these types of issues less than year out of the box.

    1. Interesting. The sound on the right side isn’t diminished on mine when it works. It just cuts out completely when there are problems.

      I am actually using them right now, and the right bud is working fine, and has been for around an hour. But once it cuts out, I know there will be issues for a while.

  2. FWIW, I have slept with one of the airpods in every night since they first came out, at least once a week I’ll find one has fallen out and under me. I doubt that is the cause of your issues. I had to have my left AirPod replaced after the volume went to half of the right and started acting wonky. This was about four weeks after I got them and after a particularly long sweaty run. So I’ve attributed the problem to sweat. But took all of ten minutes in Apple Store to get the replacement. And I’ve not had any problems since, even after more long runs.

    1. Thanks for your response. Sleeping on them was just the only thing I could think of. I haven’t used them working out or anything, so I guess this just must be a general hardware failure.

      Even with Apple, this kind of thing is par for the course with miniaturized first gen hardware.

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