AirPods get USB-C and a more engineer-serviceable design


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The engineer who put a USB-C port in a custom AirPods charging case has provided a detailed video of his methodology and explains how others can try it out at home.

YouTuber and engineer Ken Pillonel isn’t happy with Apple’s ports situation, so he’s found ways to rectify it himself. After installing USB-C in an iPhone, he built an AirPods charging case with USB-C using a combination of custom components and Apple internals.

The in-depth video explains the trial and error of making its own AirPods case, bringing the plastic quality closer to Apple’s. Next, he explains how he built his own custom USB-C connector to replace the Lightning connector.

Rather than auction off the final product, Pillonel decided to make his creations public. Anyone can visit his personalized website titled “The dirty secret of AirPods” for details and links to 3D CAD files and more.

By making the project open source, he hopes to help enterprising AirPods users convert their old cases and reduce e-waste. Beyond his issue with the Lightning port, he’s also upset that Apple isn’t repairing AirPods cases but replacing them instead.

Apple prides itself on being a company that cares about improving the environment. However, some see products like AirPods as antithetical to this position due to their “disposable” nature.

Add to that EU regulations requiring Apple to switch to USB-C in AirPods and iPhone by the end of 2024, and there could be a large influx of people moving to the newer ones. devices. This means that all older Lightning-based devices will become obsolete with no upgrade path that doesn’t involve throwing away an older device.

These concerns are valid, but they also leave out the possibility of users recycling the products or passing them on. Apple’s switch to USB-C doesn’t make Lightning-based products useless overnight, so landfills aren’t going to suddenly fill up with older Apple products.