Perhaps Ken Pillonel will be remembered as the person who created the first USB-C iPhone. But going forward, he’ll probably be remembered as the individual who made it possible to fix Apple AirPods.
After his USB-C iPhone became popular online, Pillonel concentrated his efforts on creating the opposite, an Android device with a Lightning port. He also unveiled a sneak peek for his upcoming engineering endeavor, a pair of AirPods with a USB-C connector, a few weeks ago.
When you could have started to believe that the engineer’s ideas had gotten a little predictable, Pillonel decided to take on the really difficult issue of making the AirPods repairable.
The AirPods Tragic
According to predictions, 90 million pairs of Apple AirPods will be sold by 2021 after being first introduced in 2016. The device’s users may extol the virtues of its audio quality and its responsiveness to even the smallest taps and pinches. Even so, the environment suffers as a result of Apple’s meteoric rise.
The manufacturer of the AirPods took satisfaction in not including power bricks with the most recent versions of their phone for environmental reasons. The AirPods’ stylish case prevents access to the hardware parts without separating the device’s cover.
The difficulties encountered in fixing the gadget casing are so great that repair experts, iFixit, give both variants of AirPods a score of 0 out of 10, which is the lowest a device can possibly receive. In other words, the gadget cannot be fixed.
A brand-new pair of AirPods could become e-waste in as little as 18 months when the batteries go out, according to a Vice article from 2019. Because there is no way to replace them, the AirPods will either end up in a landfill or present a risk to anyone trying to recycle them.
Inquiring about how they handle AirPods that are returned under their replacement policy, Interesting Engineering has contacted Apple. When they hear back, they will update this article.
How to service AirPods
As seen in the video above, Pillonel has made numerous attempts to carefully open the AirPods case, all of which have had the same outcome. Instead, he is using 3D printing to create an AirPod case that can be used in place of the original if it breaks.
Pillonel wrote to Interesting Engineering in an email, “I think the cost of installing the pieces is quite inexpensive, assuming that someone manufactures the parts I’ve created in huge quantities. The replacement shell costs less than $1 in plastic and takes 5 to 10 minutes to install.”
The lithium batteries can be changed with those purchased online once the casing has been opened. Unfortunately, only that component is easily replaceable. Pillonel claims that if another component of the gadget is damaged, it can only be repaired using a component from an additional device.
In order for anyone to produce these cases using a basic 3D printer, Pillonel made the design open source. This gives the AirPods more service alternatives. The engineer is aware that his videos can appeal to a technical audience. For those audience members who aren’t tech smart and want to give their AirPods a new lease on life, Pillonel advises: “If a non-technical person can get their hands on what I’ve created, all they need to give their device new life is a knife and a screwdriver. What’s the worst that can happen if it turns out to be a pleasant weekend endeavor but the device is already broken? Further damage to it? If you don’t attempt, you won’t learn.”
Maybe that’s the piece of advise Apple should heed as it gets ready to support the European Union’s mandate mandating that all devices have USB-C connectors.