Why Only One AirPod Doesn't Work?

Close-up of an Apple AirPod being placed in someone's ear.

AirPods are expensive but useful wireless earbuds that are best paired with an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Sometimes they don’t behave quite as you’d expect, like when an AirPod won’t connect at all. Here are some solutions you can try when you encounter this problem.

Make sure the AirPod is charged

It may sound obvious, but the first thing to do is to check if the AirPod in question is charged. To do this, place it in the charging case. When the light on the case turns green, the AirPod is fully charged. When the light on the case turns yellow, the AirPod is charging.

Location of AirPod status light

We have noticed that one AirPod sometimes discharges completely, while the other is sufficiently charged. Why is this happening? If the sensors on the AirPod are dirty, they may no longer feel when you put them in your ears. An AirPod that thinks it’s always in your ears is an AirPod that’s always on.

Make sure the case is also charged

If the LED on your AirPods charging case does nothing at all, chances are the charging case needs charging. Try plugging it into a Lightning connector or using a wireless charging pad, assuming your AirPods model supports wireless charging.

While both AirPods should be charged at the same rate, this isn’t always the case. If you use one AirPod at a time, you may run out of charge remaining in the case while only charging one AirPod.

Clean the contacts and charging case

There’s no LED on each AirPod to indicate its current status, so it’s not clear whether an earbud is charging or not. If the case has charged (or is charging) and you’ve been waiting for a while with no luck, make sure there are no obstacles that could prevent the AirPod from charging properly.

Open the case and view the charging compartment that contains the affected AirPod. Dust, lint, and other debris can get trapped and cover the contacts needed for charging. This will prevent your AirPod from charging, so make sure you clean it properly.

Clean charging channels with a cotton swab
Tim Brookes / How-To Geek

You should also check the AirPod itself. Check the tip of the AirPod resting against the charging contacts for anything that could be causing the problem. The silver metal edge should be shiny and clean.

You can clean your AirPods with a soft cloth, cotton swabs, Blu-Tack, isopropyl alcohol and a soft brush. You can also clean the charging port on the bottom of the device with a toothpick and a light touch.

Check if both AirPods appear in Bluetooth settings

If nothing has helped so far, take your AirPods out of the case and put them in your ears. Now use Control Center on your iPhone (or iPad) to check if both AirPods are showing. You can do this by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen and tapping the “Now Playing” field followed by the AirPlay icon. View the currently connected devices.

If both AirPods are detected, your device will label them as “Tim’s AirPods Pro” (or whatever you called them) with a battery percentage:

Both AirPods connected to iPhone

If only one is detected, you will see an “L” or an “R” to indicate which one along with the battery percentage:

Only left AirPod connected

This information can help isolate the problem. Do both AirPods appear, but only hear sound from one of them? This may indicate a problem with the speaker itself. If only one shows up, the AirPod may have other issues or just need to pair with your device again.

If both are detected, you can try to “force” a firmware update to see if that fixes things. There is no way to do this directly with iOS or iPadOS. Instead, you need to place both AirPods in the case, plug in the power cable, and then place them next to your iPhone or iPad. Firmware updates happen wirelessly and automatically as and when they are available.

While this is happening, consider plugging in your device and make sure it’s also updated to the latest version of Apple’s software.

RELATED: Update an iPhone

Pair your AirPods again

It’s also worth trying to pair your AirPods again with your iPhone or iPad (or whatever device you’re using). Before doing this, you need to remove them from your chosen device. On iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth and tap the “i” next to the AirPods you want to remove.

Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap “Forget This Device” and confirm your decision. You don’t need to have your AirPods on or even nearby to do this.

Forget this device in Bluetooth settings

Now take your AirPods and place both earbuds in the charging case. Enable Bluetooth on your device under Settings > Bluetooth or use the Control Center, then bring it near your iPhone or iPad and open it. The AirPods should appear with pairing instructions.

AirPods 3

If you’re using another device (like an Android smartphone or Nintendo Switch), find the small round button on the back of the case and hold it until the light on your AirPods starts flashing.

From here, go to Bluetooth settings and tap your AirPods in the list of available devices to pair them. The blinking light indicates that they are in pairing mode, so if you don’t see the blinking light, repeat these steps. Sometimes forgetting and reconnecting your AirPods is enough to solve the problem.

RELATED: Pair AirPods with a PC, Mac, Android phone or other device

Still having problems? Look for damage

Carefully inspect your AirPods and charging case for signs of damage. You usually look for cracks in the outer plastic, which could indicate damage that prevents your earbuds from working (or charging, if the case is damaged).

Damage doesn’t immediately mean the game is over for your AirPods (we’ve cracked AirPods ourselves and ours kept going until the battery died), but if you’re already having problems, physical damage can help explain the problem. A crack lets in more moisture and may indicate that the impact has affected more than the hard plastic shell.

If you have an AppleCare+ policy for your AirPods, you are covered for two incidents of accidental damage within a 12-month period, although you will be charged a $29 service fee for the repairs.

Check your warranty status

If you’ve paired your AirPods with an iPhone or iPad, you can check your warranty status under Settings > Bluetooth by tapping the “i” button next to your AirPods. You do not necessarily have to have your AirPods on or connected for this.

AirPods coverage expired

You can also check your AirPods warranty status on the Apple Support website. You’ll need your original serial number, which can be found under the lid of the charging case, printed on the AirPod itself, or on the original packaging (if you still have it), following Apple’s instructions.

Your AirPods may be eligible for replacement

Even if you’re out of warranty, there are some known issues that plague certain models of AirPods. If you have a pair of AirPods Pro manufactured before October 2020, there is a chance that they will be included in a recall. Take your AirPods to an Apple Store to confirm.

If you suspect that the battery is to blame, there are third parties that replace your AirPods battery for a fee. If this fails, you can replace individual defective AirPods and charging cases starting at $69 for basic AirPods or $89 for the AirPods Pro.

By Admin

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