Engineer and YouTuber Ken Pillonel modded the AirPods Pro to swap out the proprietary Lightning connector for USB-C after making similar mods to the iPhone X and non-pro AirPods. Like his previous projects, the USB-C AirPods Pro schematics will be open sourced via GitHub, but this time, Pillonel is going a step further and will actually be selling his custom PCB in the hope that it’ll encourage more people to attempt the mod themselves.
“The last video has two million views and almost no one attempted the mod,” Pillonel says in the YouTube video about his latest effort. “I’m pretty sure I know why; it’s just too complicated to make the PCB. I was hoping that someone in China would copy the design and sell it, but the reality is just that I gotta make it myself.” The part will be available from shop.kenp.io and includes the specific charging LED mentioned in the video above.
Pillonel tells The Verge via email that the mod is for the first-generation AirPods Pro and won’t work with the second-gen earbuds released last year. But it’ll work with both MagSafe and non-MagSafe charging cases of the first-generation earbuds.
Despite the steps he’s taken to make the mod more approachable, Pillonel concedes that it won’t be a project for everyone. “People will definitely need to have some kind of experience playing around fixing phones, swapping batteries, etc. and [have] some tools laying around,” he tells me. “It’s not super easy but it’s also doable if you are curious and a little bit handy.” He adds that he hopes repair shops might start offering the mod to customers who are interested in having USB-C AirPods Pros.
As well as releasing schematics for the USB-C PCB, Pillonel has also modeled a replacement outer shell for the charging case for use if the AirPods Pro case gets damaged during the disassembly process. He won’t be selling this plastic part like with the PCB for now, but schematics are available for users to get it 3D printed themselves.
Although Pillonel has been steadily working his way through Apple’s Lightning-equipped devices, his USB-C modding work might not be necessary for much longer. Apple is reportedly planning to switch the iPhone to USB-C as early as later this year and transition the rest of its Lightning AirPods and Mac accessory lineup over the next couple of years. Not coincidentally, the timing coincides with the introduction of new European Union legislation mandating the use of USB-C for wired charging across a range of consumer electronics. Apple has said it plans to comply with the legislation.