The batteries inside AirPods, like all lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, come with an expiration date. Unlike phones and watches however, Apple had no plans to replace the batteries on the expensive earbuds once they die. One Washington Post writer found out that there is an option beyond replacing the headphones outright to the tune of $150.
All you need to do is ask for "battery service" at the Apple store. Where Apple stores frequently replace the batteries on other products, the post reports that the "service" is a euphemism for giving customers new AirPods and recycling the old pair. Instead of $150, it costs $49 per earbud for a total cost of $98.
The Post points out that AirPods weren't built with part-swapping in mind, and that attempting to get to the battery inside the headphones will only destroy the product.
“There is no way we can feasibly understand taking the battery out without completely destroying the AirPod,” iFixIt CEO Kyle Wiens told the paper.
The article notes that associates are being trained on the proper way to talk about AirPods. However, if they are unaware of the "battery service" rule, here's a website that will come in handy. WaPo shares that Apple will replace the headphones for free if users are still under warranty.
The Apple Limited Warranty covers a defective battery, but it doesn’t cover wear from normal use. If your battery has a manufacturing defect and it’s covered by our warranty, AppleCare+, or consumer law, we’ll service it for no additional cost. If your battery issue isn’t covered, we offer battery service for a fee.