If your AirPods Pro are suffering from the crackling, static or noise cancellation problems that have plagued some owners there’s good news from Apple: you can have them checked out free of charge, and if they’re faulty Apple will replace them for free.
There are a few important caveats. First of all, this isn’t a warranty extension: your existing warranty will still run out at the same time. And secondly, it’s only good for two years – so you need to get your AirPods Pro checked and replaced before that point.
It's also good news if you’re waiting on the AirPods Pro 2, because Apple appears to have identified and fixed the problem: it says that any AirPods Pro manufactured after October 2020 should be okay, so it’s highly unlikely that the issue will affect the next generation either.
It does mean you should be careful if you’re waiting for Black Friday AirPods Pro deals, though: some affected pairs will still be in retail, so if you’re buying them as a gift it might be wise to check them out on arrival rather than encounter issues on Christmas Day.
The tell-tale signs are crackling or static sounds that are apparent in loud environments, during phone calls or while you’re exercising, or strange noise cancellation such as missing bass or overly loud background sounds. They don't always appear immediately, so if you notice the sound changing over time, don't hesitate to take advantage of Apple's program.
Details of the AirPods Pro Service Program are on the Apple support site here.
Should you still buy AirPods Pro?
Our AirPods Pro review rated them as among the best true wireless noise cancelling headphones, despite the high price. They're still some of the best-sounding true wireless headphones, and the noise cancellation is excellent (assuming all is working properly).
We said "AirPods Pro fix a lot of the issues that put more 'serious' music listeners off regular AirPods, such as the leaky sound, out-of-ear fit and 'iconic' protruding arms. It's then thrown in better drivers and noise cancelling, and the result sounds just fantastic."
That all still holds today, but as of iOS 14, Apple has also made them better for movies – they now support 3D surround sound with head tracking when you're watching a film on your iPhone or iPad.
We'd still strongly recommend for those happy to spend the cash – as we said, you just need to make sure you know what to do if you notice any problems.