It’s only a matter of time before Apple eventually switches all of its devices over to USB-C. As for how long that’s going to take, there’s no definite answer just yet, so most of us are stuck waiting for the day Apple embraces USB-C — most of us, that is. YouTuber Ken Pillonel took matters into their own hands by 3D printing an AirPods case that charges via USB-C.
Pillonel was also the modder behind the first USB-C iPhone, as well as this monstrosity of a custom-made Samsung Galaxy A51 that charges via Lightning cable. In his latest installment of doing what Apple should already be doing, Pillonel engineers a way for AirPods cases to charge through USB-C and also open up to have its battery replaced.
Open source design — The YouTuber put out the 3D print files for the custom AirPods case on GitHub, so anyone can make it themselves. It’s a bit of a process, and requires access to 3D printers, but it only includes two major component: the external shell and the USB-C connector.
If you’re not familiar with modding or 3D printing, you can always wait for Apple to switch over to USB-C on its own. We still haven’t gotten any official confirmation from Apple about its planned switch over its remaining Lightning devices over to USB-C. We do have reports that the iPhone 15 and the entry-level iPad will make the change to USB-C, along with some leaked renders that show the AirPods Pro 2 with a USB-C port.
Reducing e-waste — Still, Pillonel’s build does address a major design flaw with AirPods cases, and that’s the repairability. The first and second generation AirPods, as well as the AirPods Pro, all received a 0 out of 10 score for repairability from iFixit. To remedy this, Pillonel’s design gives you the ability to replace the battery once it gets to the end of its lifecycle — a big benefit for early AirPods adopters with older batteries.
If you’re able to 3D print Pillonel’s build, you get direct access to the battery so you can replace it whenever necessary. Pillonel’s improved design should be applauded, not only because it reduces the need for more charging cables, but also allows you to extend the life of your AirPods case. Apple might want to take a few cues from Pillonel when it comes to repairability and reduced e-waste.