Does Apple Have A Sony Timer In The Airpods Which Kills Them After Warranty?

Estimated read time 3 min read

Call it the rumour that wouldn’t die. For years, people in Japan have believed that Sony installs a secret timer in their products which causes them to fail after a specific period of time.

Speculation about the existence of the so-called “Sony timer” emerged in the 1980s and 1990s as consumers grew increasingly suspicious of Sony devices that stopped working just after the warranty expired. According to the theory, Sony’s time-activated kill switches are designed to boost sales by driving consumers to purchase replacement parts, repairs, or new models after a scheduled period.

When the battery on my 8 months old Airpods started draining just after a few minutes (irregularly on left, right sides & charging case), I trudged down to Ample iCare, a chain of Apple-authorized service centres in Bangalore, India.

Since the Airpods are unrepairable, an iCare technician collected the device based on my purchase receipt and assured me that the parts will be replaced if found faulty during diagnosis. They verified that the item is still under warranty based on the purchase receipt.

Two days after having collected the device, I received a call from the service centre requesting me to contact Apple support, since their online portal indicated that the Airpods I submitted was out of warranty; to which I complied. I immediately contacted Apple and provided the support member with the proof of purchase post which the same was updated in the portal. At this point, do bear in mind that they took two whole days to verify if the device is under warranty to initiate diagnosis.

iCare took another 3 days to complete the battery diagnosis on which they concluded that the Airpods were indeed performing inadequately. I received an intimation indicating they have ordered the spares from Apple and it could take them another 1-2 days for them to deliver the product to me. 6 days had already passed at this moment.

I received an email the very next day, mentioning the Airpods are available to be collected from the centre. Having read numerous stories about Airpods being an unrepairable device I expected them to replace the faulty parts but guess what? They had not.

And to my surprise, the technician informed me the battery drain on my Airpod’s charging case was caused due to a bug in the firmware which they have fixed post which they confirmed the device is functioning normally.

I’m still curious as to why the firmware with the fix was not available to the public, which users could download on their own to the Airpods?  Was the firmware with the bug pushed to the Airpods intentionally, assuming that my device was out of the warranty period based on their records?

Had the device been out of warranty, would they have been so courteous to have my Airpod’s firmware updated? Or would they have asked me to throw this in the recycle bin since it’s an unrepairable device?

With a repairability score of 0 out of 10 the new AirPods are practically non-repairable. You can’t swap out the battery, you can’t fix any inner part that has been damaged and they’re almost impossible to recycle because of the hard-to-reach batteries making this a disposable gadget.


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