The One Good Reason to Buy an AirPods Case

AirPods Pro outside of charging case lying on a gray table
Mohd Syis Zulkipli/

AirPods are popular headphones that fit snuggly into Apple’s ecosystem. For the most part, sound quality is decent, noise cancellation is reasonable, and build quality means they can withstand a few hard knocks. But there’s one design flaw that only an aftermarket case can solve.

Why Your AirPods Need a Case

If you’ve ever dropped your AirPods case, you’ll be familiar with this problem. As the case hits the ground, your AirPods are ejected at high velocity across the room (or worse, the street), leaving you wondering how earbuds can travel so far, so fast.

The hard plastic case does a good job of protecting your AirPods from immediate damage but little to stop them from becoming projectiles. Though we had an experience where a first-generation AirPod cracked on us many years ago, this resulted from dropping the earbud from head height onto a concrete floor. Fortunately, the charging case seems far more robust.

Apple AirPods

But after three iterations of the original AirPods line, two AirPods Pro releases, and many more experiments with Apple’s Beats line of earbuds (which use the same Apple wireless chips inside), the flappy-top AirPods design persists.

At best, the issue is annoying. At worst, you could lose your AirPods down a drain. Putting a case on your iPhone is something most smartphone owners have come to accept, so maybe it’s time we did the same with AirPods.

Choose a Case with a Locking Mechanism

Not all AirPods cases will solve the problem. Many only provide a bit of padding for the outside of the charging case to give it a bit more bounce and prevent scratching. Some add keychains and carabiner loops. But to prevent your AirPods from becoming crash test dummies, you’ll need a case with a catch or snap-lock mechanism.

You’ll also need to make sure your choice of case matches which AirPods you own. You can do this by checking the model number under Settings > Bluetooth and then tapping the “i” information icon next to your AirPods. Look for the “Model Number” entry, then match it with the following:

  • AirPods (2017): A1523, A1722
  • AirPods (2019, 2nd gen): A2032, A2031
  • AirPods Pro (2019): A2084, A2083
  • AirPods (2021, 3rd gen): A2565, A2564
  • AirPods Pro (2022, 2nd gen): A2931, A2699, A2698

The vast majority of locking case designs seem to use a hard shell design that completely covers up Apple’s design work, like the OLEBAND Case for AirPods Pro 2 or the Olytop Case for AirPods 1st and 2nd Gen. These seem to mostly stick to the same aggressive and rugged design.

Locking Case for AirPods Pro 2

OLEBAND Secure Lock Case for AirPods Pro 2nd Generation

A hard shell case for second (and first) generation AirPods Pro, which features a secure locking lid to prevent your AirPods from escaping.

Fortunately, there are a few outliers, like the OCING Case for AirPods Pro (1st Gen), which uses a silicone case with a snap button design on the front. For a more rounded look, try something like the Maxjoy Case for AirPods Pro 2, a nylon and polycarbonate shell that also features a locking mechanism on the side of the case.

Locking Case for AirPods

OCING 5-in-One AirPods Pro Case

Protect your first and second generation AirPods from accidents using a silicone cover with a snap-lock button to keep the lid in place.

As a rule of thumb, cases designed for first-generation AirPods will also fit second-generation AirPods. Third-generation AirPods will require a different case. You can also squeeze your second-generation AirPods Pro into a case designed with first-generation AirPods in mind, but there will be no room for the sound hole or lanyard loop.

You Can Always Improvise

A case protects your AirPods and charging case while also (hopefully) looking good in the process. But you don’t need to spend more money to get some protection. You could also improvise with a rubber band, hair tie, or anything that keeps your AirPods case securely closed.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only problem AirPods owners may encounter. Check out how to troubleshoot common AirPods problems, how to fix AirPods not connecting to your devices, or what to do when only one AirPod isn’t working.

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