You may think you’ve bought yourself a fake pair of AirPods because they only play in one ear. But the truth is that there seems to be a disproportionate number of people having issues with one AirPod not working.
While the real reason behind this issue has not been confirmed, there are a bunch of reasons why one AirPod might not work for you—which we’ll get into in this article. With that said, here are the top reasons your left or right AirPod might be having issues.
Why Is One AirPod Not Working?
Obviously, something is wrong when one AirPod is not working. It may happen for different reasons ranging from the low battery or dirty AirPods to problems with pairing, settings, or physical damage.
All these reasons can cause one AirPod not to work. This guide walks you through several troubleshooting steps you can try.
1. Charge the Problematic AirPod
A dying battery in one AirPod happens more frequently than you think. The AirPods’ batteries may drain separately, and one AirPod can die before the other, no matter the right one or the left one.
If something like this happens, it will result in one AirPod turning off sooner, and you experience one AirPod not working until you charge it again.
To check your AirPods battery status, put them both in their charging case and bring them close to your iPhone. The battery level will appear on your iPhone’s screen. If needed, charge the AirPods for 30 to 60 minutes and then use them.
2. Turn Bluetooth On and Off
Sometimes a software fault can be the reason why one AirPod is not working. You can resolve this issue by turning Bluetooth off and on again. Both earphones will normally connect when it reconnects.
To do this, follow the steps below:
1. Open Settings.
2. Tap on Bluetooth.
3. Toggle the Bluetooth button to turn it off and on.
4. Alternatively, swipe down the top right corner (in iPhone X and later) or swipe up the home screen bottom (in iPhone 8 and older) to open the Control Center.
5. Tap on the Bluetooth icon to make it disconnect and connect to AirPods again.
3. Clean AirPods
It is possible that both AirPods are functional and working correctly, but you can’t hear the sound from one AirPod because there is dirt on its mesh.
You may think it is impossible, but only a small amount of earwax or dirt is needed to block the sound.
Clean your AirPods using the Q-tip tool, lint-free microfiber fabric, cotton swab, or a needle (not recommended) to restore the sound.
4. Reset AirPods
When one AirPod stops working and loses its connection for no apparent reason, it is annoying, and you may be disappointed in finding the solution.
In this situation, you can reset your AirPods using iOS or the AirPods case.
To reset via iOS:
1. On your iPhone, go to Settings.
2. Open Bluetooth.
3. Find your AirPods and tap on the “i” icon.
4. Tap on Forget This Device and tap again to confirm the process.
5. A pop-up tab will be opened; tap on Connect.
To reset AirPods using the charging case:
- Put your AirPods in their Charging Case and close the lid.
- Wait at least 30 seconds and open the cover.
- Press the button on the back of the Charging Case when the AirPods case lid is opened, and hold it for about 15 seconds until you see the LED light flashing.
- The AirPods are reset, and you can pair them with your iPhone.
Do you have problems resetting your AirPods? Learn what to do when AirPods won’t reset.
5. Check AirPods Audio Settings
There’s something about the AirPods audio settings that most users don’t know. Your AirPods audio settings may have changed intentionally or by accident which may cause you to hear the sound only through one of your AirPods. To check the balance of the sound, follow the steps below:
1. Open Settings.
2. Choose Accessibility.
3. Scroll down the page and tap on Audio/Visual.
4. In the Balance section, check the slider position and fix it to 0.00 to hear the sound on both AirPods.
6. Update iOS
While it’s uncommon, it’s always conceivable that your AirPods suffer from a software issue, and you can solve it by updating your device to the most recent iOS update. To update your iPhone’s iOS take the steps below:
1. Go to Settings.
2. Tap on General.
3. Hit Software Update.
4. Download and install the latest version.
7. Reset Network Settings
Settings on your smartphone determine how it connects to different networks, including Bluetooth devices. A problem with settings may have caused one AirPod not to work. You’ll have to repair Bluetooth devices, re-enter Wi-Fi passwords, and so on if you reset the settings.
To reset network settings:
1. Go to Settings.
2. Tap on General.
3. Hit Transfer or Reset iPhone.
4. Choose Reset.
5. Tap on Reset Network Settings.
6. Enter your passcode and let the process be completed.
8. Contact Apple Support
If none of the abovementioned solutions worked, it seems your AirPods have some issue that is not fixable by yourself.
It’s more likely that your AirPods have some hardware issue, and you have to contact Apple Support.
Apple Support’s customer service will check your device and replace or repair it if necessary.
We hope you found this guide useful in helping you troubleshoot your AirPods when only one works.
As we explained in his article, this problem can occur due to an empty battery, software issues, outdated iOS, or incorrect audio settings.
If charging your AirPods or resetting your iPhone or AirPods didn’t solve your problem, it seems you have some hardware issue, and you can’t do anything but call Apple Support.
They will help you repair your device. If your AirPods are more than two years old, it is probably the time to change your AirPods and upgrade to a newer version.