Why is only one AirPod working?

14 May 2020, 00:07

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You might find that one of your AirPods stops working. Sound only plays through one ear.

Here’s some things to try.

How to make both AirPods work
The simplest solution is simply to disconnect your AirPods from your iPhone – which is to say, disassociate them from Bluetooth, and then reassociate them.

  1. To do this on an iPhone, first open the Settings app.
  2. Tap the Bluetooth heading, then Select the AirPods entry in the list and tap the (i) icon at the right of the entry.
  3. Select Forget This Device, and then the same entry in the menu that appears at the bottom.
  4. Next, you need to reconnect the AirPods to your iPhone. This is simple – start by opening the AirPods case lid, and holding the AirPods case near the iPhone.
  5. When the Not Your AirPods screen appears, tap Connect. Then follow the instructions to press and hold the small circular button on the back of the AirPods case, probably for a second or two, until the AirPods show as connected.

How to make a broken AirPod work: Checking the audio balance
Try playing some music and see if the issue is fixed. If this doesn’t work, check to make sure you haven’t adjusted the audio balance by mistake.

  1. Open the Settings app on the iPhone, then tap the Accessibility heading.
  2. Scroll down the list of options, and tap the Audio/Visual heading.
  3. In the screen that appears, ensure the Balance slider is in the middle, and that the Mono Audio switch isn’t activated.

How to make a broken AirPod work: Cleaning
If the steps above don’t work, you should ensure the AirPod isn’t dirty, and that the case doesn’t have debris in it that’s stopping the AirPod from properly charging. A wooden toothpick can be carefully used to scrape away debris from the AirPod itself – not just around the speaker grille, but also around the sensors on either side of the main head if the AirPod, which the AirPod uses to sense when it’s inside an ear. As mentioned, be extremely careful when doing this and use a light touch. It’s easy to cause even more damage!

As for cleaning the AirPods case, canned compressed air with a straw nozzle can be used to blow debris out of the recess in which the AirPod is inserted for charging.

Use a flashlight to look at the bottom of this and ensure the small metal contacts and both present, and not dirty or corroded. If there’s corrosion then you might try a Q-tip lightly coated with isopropyl alcohol to give the contacts a rub – but again, take care. Note that any repair attempts you do here are at your own risk!

Remember that you’ll know if the AirPod is charging when you insert it because the LED light on the case will switch to yellow. (Note: It may stay green if the AirPods have only been used briefly and it’s not necessary to charge them just now.)

AirPod not working: How to get a replacement
If you just can’t get the broken AirPod working, try calling into an Apple Store and discussing the matter with the Apple Genius bar. It’s possible to buy replacement individual AirPods, or a replacement case, although the cost can be quite high. You might consider simply buying new AirPods, especially if the AirPods are more than a year old and have poor battery life anyway.

It’s also possible to find reconditioned and/or third-party replacements on sites like Amazon. This isn’t something I would personally recommend, but you might want to investigate the options.

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