How to Fix It When One AirPod Is Not Working

Updated on 2022-08-18
Is only one of your AirPods working? Annoying! Find out why it's happening and how to get sound back in both here.

Whether it's your left or right AirPod not working, this article explains what could be causing the problem and how to fix it. The tips in this article apply to all AirPods models, including AirPods 1 and 2, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max.

If you're having trouble with both AirPods, you could be looking at completely different issues. Learn how to fix both AirPods when they're not working.

Why Is My AirPod Only Playing in One Ear?

When your AirPod is playing in only one ear, something's wrong. The causes can range from the reasonably simple (low battery charge or dirty AirPods) to the pretty complex (problems with network or audio settings).

Given that, there's no single cause for this AirPods problem so there's no single fix, either. The best thing to do is walk through troubleshooting steps until the AirPod starts working again.

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How Do I Fix My AirPods When Only One Works?

The possible fixes are listed below from simplest to most complex so try them in this order:

1. Check Battery

The simplest and most likely explanation for one AirPod not working is its battery is dead. AirPods can drain batteries at different rates, so even if you've charged your AirPods at the same time, one might run out of juice first. Check AirPods battery life or look at your battery widget and charge if you need to.

2. Clean the AirPods

You might not hear the audio in one AirPod because there's gunk built up in it, blocking sound from getting out. That could be lint or dust, or even earwax. Check your AirPods, and if the speakers look clogged, clean your AirPods.

3. Turn Bluetooth On and Off

The problem with your AirPods could be the audio isn't being properly sent from your device to your earbuds. In that case, try resetting Bluetooth. On an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth > move the Bluetooth slider to off/white, wait a few seconds, and move it back to on/green.

4. Restart Your Device

Restarting isn't very likely to solve the problem, but it's quick and straightforward, so it's worth a try. Restarting a device clears out active memory and can often solve temporary problems. Try restarting your iPhone or restarting your iPad.

5. Unpair and Re-pair AirPods

Still not hearing audio in one AirPod? It's time to set up your AirPods again. To do this on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth > tap the i next to the AirPods > Forget This Device > Forget Device. That removes the AirPods from your device. Then put the AirPods into their case, hold down the button on the case, and follow the onscreen setup instructions.

6. Hard Reset AirPods

If nothing's worked so far, try hard resetting your AirPods. Follow the same steps for un-pairing and re-pairing your AirPods from the last section. When you hold down the button on the AirPods case, hold it for about 15 seconds until the light flashes amber and then white. Then let go and follow the onscreen instructions.

If even that doesn't work, try again, but hold down the button on the case much longer: around 40-60 seconds. Let the light move through the amber-then-white cycle five times and then continue.

7. Reset Network Settings

Your device has settings that control how it connects to various networks, including Bluetooth devices. If there's a problem with those settings, that could be your culprit. Resetting the settings can help, though you'll need to re-pair Bluetooth devices, re-enter Wi-Fi passwords, etc. To reset Network Settings, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

8. Check Stereo Balance

There's a setting hidden deep in the Accessibility options on iOS devices that lets you control the balance of audio between the left and right AirPods. Your problem could be this setting is out of balance and sending all sound to only one AirPod. To fix this, go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > find the Balance slider and move it to the center.

9. Update Operating System

Every new version of the iOS and iPadOS brings lots of new features and important bug fixes. While this isn't likely to solve the problem, there's a chance your problem is fixed in the latest version of your device's OS. Since updates are free, pretty fast, and bring many benefits, it's worth a shot to download and install new iOS updates.

10. Get Help from Apple 

At this point, it's time to get help from the experts: Apple. Contact Apple support or make an Apple Store Genius Bar appointment.

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How do I fix one AirPod that's not working with my Android phone?

If you've connected your AirPods with an Android phone, troubleshooting is similar to the steps for iOS, with a few adjustments. To check the battery charge, use an app such as AirBattery from the Google Play Store. To rule out issues related to firmware, you'll also need to pair your AirPods to an iPhone to make sure they receive the latest updates.

Why is my left AirPod not working when talking on my phone?

If the microphone isn't working with your left AirPod, look at your AirPods microphone settings; you might have the mic set to the right earbud. Go to Settings > Bluetooth > Microphone and choose from AutomaticAlways Left AirPod, or Always Right AirPod.

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