Second-hand AirPods could have an iCloud problem

Secondhand AirPods could have an iCloud problem
(Image credit: Apple)

Second-hand AirPods could have problems syncing to new iCloud accounts, according to a new report. Business Insider claims that some pairs of Apple's wireless earbuds remain synced to their previous owners' iCloud accounts even following a factory reset.

The issue has arisen from pairs returned to US retailers like Walmart and then resold. Apparently, case numbers are in the thousands.

In fact, the problem reportedly affects eight out of 10 pairs handled by Walmart's returns company goTRG.

On set-up, some of those units affected will show an "AirPod Mismatch" message within the Find My app. The message should read "New Owner Name's AirPods". When the new owner tries to access their AirPods on their smartphone, they'll see a message telling them that the headphones are linked to a different Apple ID. It will then ask if one of the earbuds is "mixed up with someone else's AirPods."

When returning or selling on any Apple device, you should perform a full reset to wipe sensitive data but the fact this report says resetting some AirPods doesn't have the desired effect isn't ideal and could raise big questions over data security. If you're desperate for a new pair of headphones for your iPhone, we'd suggest checking out our guide to the best AirPods alternatives, where you'll find pairs for every budget that should pair without any problems.

We've contacted Apple for comment on the AirPods issue and will update you if we hear back.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.