With a 3D-printed case and by swapping the Lightning charging port for a USB-C port, hardware prototyping consultant Ken Pillonel has attempted to address some of the AirPods Pro’s repairability difficulties.
Engineer switches Lightning port on AirPods Pro with USB-C
In a new YouTube video, Pillonel emphasized that the AirPods Pro are practically a disposable item because its charging case cannot be opened without harming the device, making them unsuitable for servicing or repairs. Because of this, iFixit’s repair professionals rated Apple’s first- and second-generation AirPods, as well as the AirPods Pro, a repairability score of 0 out of 10. Pillonel discovered that the charging case for the AirPods Pro is simpler to open than the charging case for the basic AirPods, albeit this is still not guaranteed to be damage-free.
The unopenable AirPods Pro charging cases currently face certain obsolescence due to their three built-in batteries, so Pillonel set out to develop a method to make them functional once again. Pillonel had previously developed a similar solution for the first- and second-generation AirPods. To enable technicians to deliberately open the current case in order to access the internals and perform repairs, Pillonel developed a downloadable, 3D-printed replacement casing.
Online shopping does not offer replacement Lightning ports, only replacement batteries. This means that Lightning ports can only be changed when they break, and technicians may not always have access to different AirPods charging cases. In order to fix this, Pillonel is now providing an AirPods Pro replacement USB-C port that is ready to be installed.
Pillonel has stated that the standard USB-C connector on the AirPods Pro boosts the likelihood of long-term repairability. Similar changes that gave the iPhone a USB-C port and the Samsung Galaxy A51 a Lightning port were also made by Pillonel.
The first iPhone models featuring a USB-C connector are expected to be released this year, according to TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. EU regulations will require Apple to switch new AirPods models to USB-C by late 2024. In an effort to address some of the complaints about the repairability of its products, Apple introduced the Self Service Repair program last year. However, concerns about the durability of products like AirPods still linger.
Check out the full video below: