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7 reasons I bought refurbished AirPods

Key Takeaways

  • Refurbished AirPods are like new, ensuring functionality, performance, and aesthetics.
  • Refurbished AirPods offer reduced pricing and benefits like free trials and incentives.
  • Certified resellers offer warranties, environmental benefits, and E-waste reduction.

I have a love-hate relationship with refurbished products. With an initial list of concerns like compromised functionality, authenticity, warranty, and being the fashion-obsessed consumer I am, aesthetic flaws. Of course, there’s always the worry that AirPods have lived in someone else’s ears. In the name of research, however, I did some exploration.

As some of the most iconic earbuds on the market, I felt it was worth hearing from people who stand by their refurbished choices. They all first pointed to the common dilemma, that we tend to get stuck in a mindset where refurbished is often confused with used.

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When considering a pair of AirPods labeled as refurbished or certified reconditioned, renewed or restored, chances are that they have never been used and that they were simply returned or exchanged.

If AirPods were in fact utilized, unlike “used” AirPods, a refurbished pair has the same performance capabilities, functionality, and aesthetic conditions as factory-new AirPods. Right off the bat it seemed like I was exploring the best condition that AirPods can be in, as opposed to any condition they can be in.

After submerging myself in the rabbit hole of research, I finally ordered a refurbished pair of AirPods Pros from Best Buy. I can safely say buying a refurbished pair was a wise choice for the following reasons.

1 Quality, transparency and reliability

Refurbished AirPods are actually more regulated than a factory-new pair

Refurbished AirPods Complete Box

Refurbished AirPods and their parts (charging case or cable, and power cord) undergo a meticulous inspection by certified and/ expert technicians to ensure that they meet factory-new standards. Apple and other certified resellers clearly list their process online, which includes a screening to find visible damage, a deep sanitary cleanse, and robust diagnostic and functional testing.

Apple and other certified resellers clearly list their process online, which includes a screening to find visible damage, a deep sanitary cleanse, and robust diagnostic and functional testing.

Parts that need replacement are replaced and tested. AirPods Pros were refurbished by Best Buy’s Geek Squad of Apple-trained technicians, but retailers such as Back Market also have Apple Certified Technicians, so be sure to check.

2 New aesthetic satisfaction

Good looks are included

Refurbished AirPods

Without previous knowledge that AirPods were certified refurbs, they will be indecipherable from new AirPods. Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Certified online retailers may label their AirPods’ condition. For example, Back Market lists refurbs as Excellent, Good, or Fair, with prices lowered according to aesthetics. Hardware will always be factory-new standard and by the time your refurbs are shipped they will be in great condition as scratches will be expertly buffed out and dents will be restored.

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The only real visible difference may be the box they come in and the fact that it will not be factory sealed. My refurbs arrived in their original packaging and were sealed by Best Buy. Apple repackages all refurbs in a new white box and some retailers, such as The Swap Club, ship their refurbished AirPods in customized packaging.

3 Greatly reduced prices

You can save from 15-40% off the original price

Refurbished AirPods set

The low price point is hands down my favorite reason for buying this premium product that would rarely otherwise be on sale from Apple itself. You will own a similar-to-new model AirPods, have money saved and, in addition to this, if you purchase a pair from a retailer such as Best Buy, for example, you will also receive their free three-month subscription incentives such as Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+ and Apple Music.

4 Extended battery life

At worst, refurbished AirPods batteries compare to a factory-new pair

Refurbished AirPods Battery Screen Display

AirPods are known to have diminutive Lithium-ion batteries, which give them a lifespan of around two years with regular daily use. When you buy refurbished AirPods directly from Apple, one of their features includes an extra hour of battery life over factory new AirPods. Refurbished models from trusted retailers guarantee a battery to be to the same standards as new AirPods.

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I highly recommend exploring a few swap options as well, such as The Swap Club, for example, which will exchange same generation AirPods for around $60 (plus $5 shipping) for a refurbished pair with brand-new batteries. Most certified resellers also offer a trade-in program, where you can put money from your old AirPods towards a refurbished pair.

5 Re-assurance

Most certified sellers offer a hefty warranty

AirPods Pro 2

Refurbished AirPods not only come with all the parts but also with documentation (be sure to ask about it). When buying through Apple, refurbished AirPods come with the same one-year warranty and a 14-day return policy with AppleCare+ options, as would a new pair.

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Other retailers also offer warranties, as well as extended warranty options for a small additional fee. Not only did this plus point give me the freedom to not think “what if I get it, and it doesn’t work,” but it also gave me the time to test key features like the battery life, in my own time, in my own day-to-day way.

6 Reduced e-waste

Give your AirPods a second life and cut down its environmental impact

Alchemists rejoice: The Royal Mint plans to turn your e-waste into gold photo 1

E-waste is mainly caused by the ever-increasing use of electronics, short product lifecycles and limited repair options, but according to Environment America’s Research and Policy Center, buying refurbished instead of new, cuts down this impact by between 77% to 91%. In the case of CO2 emissions alone, a study by Refurbed and Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH indicates that 80% of emissions take place during the production phase alone. Buying refurbished products saves CO2 emissions by 78%.

As part of their aim to make all their products carbon-neutral by 2030, Apple offers a recycling program for returned or used products. Most certified retailers will also offer AirPods buy-back options for cash in order to recycle parts for future refurbs.

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7 Open box testing & authentication

Trusted third party retailers provide the option to inspect before purchase

Refurbished AirPods packaging

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to explore my initial concerns regarding functionality, battery longevity, authenticity, warranty, aesthetic conditions, and the creepy foreign ear dilemma. This option is also extended to online shoppers to test everything at home with a return window if not satisfied.

Things to look out for if you are going in to authenticate a refurb

  1. All the components:
    Check the box for all the parts (AirPods, AirPods Pros will also have ear tips, charging case or charger, power cord, instructions, and certification).
  2. Condition:
    Thoroughly inspect both the AirPods and its charging case or charger. Scout for scratches, dents or other infractions that can affect functionality.
  3. Compatibility:
    Ensure that refurbs are compatible and pair seamlessly with your devices. Firmware on AirPods updates automatically, but older AirPods models may not connect with the latest iOS devices.

    • Tip:
      Also check the model number on both AirPods to ensure that they are same-generation pods (for instance, first and second-generation look similar).
  4. Functionality:
    Test the AirPods to ensure they work properly. Make a phone call, play music, say Hi Siri, test noise cancellation, and use the touch controls. Also, test whether the AirPods are both charging in the charging case and whether the case itself or chord is charging properly.
  5. Battery longevity:
    Activity explore the AirPods to establish if they hold a charge for a reasonable amount of time. A single charge on each model varies, so make sure you know your specs.
  6. Authenticity:
    Verify the serial number on the charging case or box as well as the model number on the AirPods themselves via Apple Support. iOS16 and upwards have a built-in feature to detect fake AirPods with a pop-up message that reads “Cannot Verify AirPods.” However, if your AirPods are recognized you are set.
  7. Previous owner connection:
    Set up the AirPods to your Apple ID to ensure that they are not still connected to the previous owner. Remember, if still connected, the previous owner can track the AirPods and, ultimately, your whereabouts.

When testing the charging case, don’t be alarmed if the charging LED goes off after a few seconds. It is meant to do that.

Where to find refurbished AirPods

Store

Trade-in Options

Warranty

Return Policy

Additional Value

Free Shipping (Business days)

Apple

No

1 year

14 days

Apple Care+ option

2-3

Back Market

Yes

1 year

30 days

N/A

2-3

Best Buy

Yes

1 year

15 days, extended to 60 days for TotalTech members

3 months: Apple TV+ Apple Fitness+ Apple Music Apple Care Optional

Same day pickup, 1-2 shipping

Plug

Yes

1 year

30 days

N/A

3-4

VIPOutlet

No

90 days

30 days

N/A

3

InstantPods

Yes

90 days

14 days

N/A

4-5

What should I know before buying refurbished AirPods?

When it comes to refurbished AirPods, it is safe to say it is a good deal, if not the best. But with “the good” covered, I feel it is only fair to look at “the Bad and the Ugly” or, perhaps in this case, the Bad and the Snuggly.

  1. A long waiting period
    : It may happen that the pair that you have your eye on is out of stock and therefore must wait for new stock to arrive. However, if your payment was cleared, you are sure to get the pair you paid for. If purchased online, you also run the exercise of having to wait for delivery. But it is a wait worth your while.
  2. Ear tip hygiene
    : I get it, just the thought that your AirPods could have spent time in a stranger’s ear could be somewhat unsettling for some. With refurbs, chances are they have never been used. However, if indeed they were used, you can be sure buying from a certified reseller will ensure a robust cleaning process. If that’s still a deal-breaker, you can purchase a set of ear tips for any model, for a small price (starting as low as $7.99 from Apple), adjust the size for a snug fit or customize the look to your sparkling personality.
  3. AirPods Max headbands cannot be refurbished
    :

    ​​​​​​​Although the headband has its snug advantages, the mesh on the band tends to wear out and if you’re a runner like me, it absorbs quite a bit of sweat. Also, Apple doesn’t sell headbands separately, and while other outlets do sell headbands, the DIY replacement process can be tricky. Again, rest assured though, as the headband was sanitized through a thorough cleaning process and/ was replaced before resale.

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FAQ

Q: Which model of refurbished AirPods should I buy?

It depends on your budget and purpose for use. AirPods and AirPods Pro are similar in color, battery life, charging speeds and Bluetooth range, in which case the price difference is not merited for me. AirPods Max is different as it brings esthetics and wearability into play. All things considered, I would opt for AirPods Pro, as it gives you the premium sound and functionality we all love in the product, plus the option to replace and customize ear tips minus the headband mesh wear and tear.

Q: How do I know whether my refurbished AirPods are not knockoffs?

You can verify your AirPods via Apple Support on your iPhone with their serial number found on the case and the AirPods themselves. If recognized, they are authentic. I have, however, found that some counterfeiters are better than others and that real serial numbers can be cloned, so what you want to do is to double-check that each AirPod has its own serial number.

Q: As AirPods were opened up, will the refurbished product be waterproof?

Yes. Both AirPods and the charging case should be rated IPX4 water resistant which means they will withstand rain and sweat (as well as some solids and any level of dust). AirPods Max, unfortunately, are not waterproof or resistant, even brand new.

Q: Am I facing security risks with my refurbished AirPods still connected to the previous owner?

There have been issues in the past with pop-ups stating that previous owners will be able to see the AirPods’s location along with the previous owner’s redacted Apple ID. If this happens to you, you should perform a firmware reset: Place the AirPods in the case > open the lid > press and hold the back button for fifteen seconds past the amber blinking until the light blinks white.

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