No, Apple is not giving away free AirPods, despite what you may be seeing on your TikTok “For You” page.
In the last several weeks, hundreds of videos have spawned on TikTok claiming that Apple is giving away free AirPods replacement as long as you simply walk into an Apple Store and ask for a new free pair. The trend implies that “AirPods” users can walk into an Apple Store, claim their earbuds are not working in some shape or form, and proceed to receive a replacement pair of AirPods – with no questions asked. A popular video from the trend can be found below:
The trend is an obvious mischaracterization of Apple’s AirPods Pro replacement program, which is offered to customers with AirPods Pro manufactured before October 2020 who may be experiencing static or issues with Active Noise Cancellation. That program, unlike what the trend suggests, requires employees to actually confirm the left, right, or both AirPods Pro earbuds are defective in some way.
While it may seem like a harmless TikTok trend by ill-informed content creators, the trend is causing a headache for Apple Stores. The videos have caused an uptick in appointments to Apple Stores by customers who believe they’re eligible for a free pair of replacement AirPods when in reality, they aren’t.
Two sources who spoke to MacRumors on the condition of anonymity said appointments for AirPods-related issues have nearly doubled in the last several weeks alone as the trend has gained momentum on TikTok. To make it abundantly clear, here are the requirements for only the AirPods Pro replacement program:
Apple has determined that a small percentage of AirPods Pro may experience sound issues. Affected units were manufactured before October 2020.
An affected AirPods Pro may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:
Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone
Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise
Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will service the affected AirPods Pro (left, right, or both) free of charge.
Customers who are eligible for this program can make an appointment at their nearest Apple Store or authorized service provider. More details on the program can be found on Apple’s support website.