How to fix an Airpod that doesn’t work

Apple’s AirPods, especially the base model, have proven to be a huge hit. People are buying these wireless earbuds at an unprecedented rate, and who can blame them? They offer excellent build quality and usability with good sound reproduction.

However, if you only find one of your AirPods working, there are many things to try before calling Apple for a replacement.

Are AirPods dirty?

The speaker apertures in the AirPods are very small, so it doesn’t take long to block them out. Remove the silicone tips (for Pro models), then inspect the speaker grilles. If it’s clogged, it’s time to (gently) clean them.

Apple has an official AirPods cleaning guide. If you want to keep your warranty intact, you should strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

One AirPod with one "censorship" stamp on it

Are you too far from the device?

Bluetooth has good range, but the wireless buds have special challenges related to objects that obscure your phone or are too far away from the source device.

For example, if you leave your iPhone in your pocket and there’s a lot of interference from other radio sources, one of your AirPods may de-sync or lose signal altogether. Hold your phone or device directly in front of you and see if that solves the problem. If so, try to change your location so that the signal is less susceptible to interference from other devices.

Turn your Bluetooth on and off again

Bluetooth technology is subject to change, and most connection problems can be fixed by simply disabling and re-enabling the device’s Bluetooth:

  1. Remove your AirPods and put them back in the carrying case.
  2. Rotate your device Bluetooth off.
  3. Rotate your device Bluetooth is on.
  4. Open yours AirPods charging case.
  5. Place the AirPods in your ear.
  6. Check out AirPods

In most cases, this will solve any connection problems.

Try your AirPods with something else

Determine if AirPods are the problem or is it a connected device causing the problem? You can use AirPods with almost any Bluetooth-enabled device, not just iPhones or Apple devices. So grab any other gadgets you have on hand and see if the AirPods work with them.

Android icon next to Android smartphone
  1. Place your AirPods in the charging case, close and then open the lid.
  2. On your device, make sure Bluetooth is on.
  3. Press and hold button on the back of the charging case until the light flashes white.
  4. Search for AirPods in list of Bluetooth devices and select it to complete the pairing.
  5. Check the AirPods on the device.

If only one AirPod is playing despite the device change, you can trust that the problem is with the AirPods and not your device.

Individual Pod battery level check

Since each AirPod has to do different levels of work during the listening session, they don’t drain the battery at the same rate. As a result, one AirPod can run out of battery while the other stays charged.

Individual battery level

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you’ll get individual battery level information for each group when you open the case. You will see this on the screen, and if an AirPod runs out of battery, it will show up. The only solution is to charge your AirPods.

Unpair and re-pair

Another quick way to fix problems with AirPods (and other Bluetooth devices) is to unpair them and re-pair. The exact method to do this varies from device to device, so consult your specific device’s documentation if you’re unsure.

On iOS, all you have to do is access Bluetooth Settings and then, under “My Devices”, select the blue “i” icon next to your AirPods. Then choose Forget this device.

Once done, pair them again using the exact instructions in “Try Your AirPods With Something Else” above.

Restart your device

Turn off the screen power on iPhone

Many inexplicable errors will be wiped out simply by restarting your device. So turn it off, wait a minute and then turn it back on. In that minute, you can offer a small prayer to the tech gods. It can’t hurt.

Check your stereo balance

There’s a setting located in the Accessibility settings that changes the audio balance between your AirPods. It changes the relative volume between them, so it helps people with hearing loss in one ear. An AirPod can be accidentally muted.

Go Setting > Accessibility > Sound / Picture > BALANCE.

Balance slider

Note the position of the slider and make sure you don’t accidentally mute one of the groups.

Reset your AirPods

You can reset all AirPods to the state they were in when they shipped. Note that if you reset your AirPods, you’ll have to unpair them on every device and then pair them again. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a chore. Simply hold the button on the back of the charging case until the LED flashes amber and then flashes white.

Reset your iOS network settings

In iOS (including variants like iPadOS), there is a single function to reset all network settings, including WiFi and Bluetooth.

Note that if you do this, you will have to re-enter all your WiFi passwords and any special network settings you need to access (for example) your work WiFi. You’ll also have to re-pair any Bluetooth devices to your primary device.

If you’re using a mobile device, resetting network settings will delete any APN settings for your carrier, so you may have to re-enter them. If you are a VPN user, this reset will also erase your settings.

To reset your network settings on iPhone, go to Settings > General > Switch or Reset Phone > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

Then select the option and confirm it.

Reset Network Settings

iOS Update

Update your iOS device to the latest version. If you’ve updated your AirPods to a newer firmware version, you’ll also need to update your iOS device.

This update is not specifically a fix for just one AirPod play; iOS updates can override whatever is causing this problem, assuming the problem is with the device and not with the AirPods themselves.

Call Apple Support

If you’ve done it all here and one AirPod is still not working, it might be time to call Apple or chat with them directly from your iPhone. Sometimes batteries or even electronic components fail. So you’re not necessarily doing anything wrong.

Sadly, there’s not much that a user can offer when it comes to these small, sealed AirPods. Alternative is the most reasonable solution. Hopefully they’re still under Apple’s warranty.

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