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Can AirPods Work in a Different Case?(Tested & Verified)

It might not happen often, but many of us have found ourselves in a situation where we wondered if our AirPods would work in a different case. Maybe you just need to charge them but don’t have your case with you, or you lost your case and wondered if you could pair them with a different one. So, can AirPods work in a different case?

Some AirPods can work in different cases. The 1st and 2nd Generation AirPods cases are interchangeable for charging, but not the 3rd Generation. The 1st and 2nd Generation AirPods Pro will fit, but an error will prohibit charging. AirPods cases aren’t interchangeable with those of the AirPods Pro.

There are a few variables that determine if you will be able to use your AirPods with a different case. These include the form factor, exact model, and whether you want to charge them in someone else’s case or want to replace them entirely. Let’s look more closely at the different options and what you can (and cannot) do with AirPods in different cases.

if AirPods can function in a case different from their own

Using AirPods In A Different Case

I know some people will think it’s ridiculous to think you might need to use another case to charge your AirPods. But I’ve seen people leaving home with their AirPods in their ears and leaving their case behind, or sometimes running out of power halfway through their day and not having a way to charge them.

People share various methods online to charge your AirPods without their charging case, but most of those methods are dangerous at best and scams at worst. So, the best way to charge your AirPods without their case is to borrow someone else’s. The good news is that it can work perfectly, with a minor condition: your AirPods must be compatible with the case.

If you can find someone with the exact same model of AirPods as you, this won’t be a problem. Simply insert the AirPods into the other charging case. If they click in place, they’re compatible, and you should see the charging LED kick into action. You don’t even have to pair them with the case to charge them. If they don’t click in place or you get an error message, that could be a problem.

So, which AirPods can be charged in which cases?

1st And 2nd Generation AirPods

The 1st and 2nd Generation AirPods (the standard ones, not the AirPods Pro) are nearly identical in size and shape. This means you can insert 2nd Gen AirPods into a 1st Gen case and vice versa, and they should match perfectly.

This means you can charge your 1st and 2nd Generation AirPods in one another’s cases without any problems. However, they don’t fit any other current AirPods cases, so you can’t use them with cases designed for AirPods 3rd Gen or any generation of AirPods Pro.

3rd Generation AirPods

The 3rd Generation AirPods have a completely different size and shape to the 1st and 2nd Gen, and they don’t match any generation of AirPods Pro. This means they won’t work in a case made for any other type of AirPods. If you have 3rd Gen AirPods, you must get a case designed specifically for 3rd Gen AirPods.

differences between the first and third generation AirPods
Contrast between 1st Gen and 3rd Gen AirPods

1st and 2nd Generation AirPods Pro

This is where things get more complicated. The 1st and 2nd Generation(including USB-C model) AirPods Pro are similar in size and shape and will fit into one another’s cases. This does not mean they will charge or work, though.

differences between the first and second generation AirPods Pro
Comparison between 1st Gen and 2nd Gen AirPods Pro

2nd Gen AirPods in 1st Gen Case

If you place 2nd Gen AirPods Pro in a 1st Gen case, you will get an error. The LED on the case will flash orange, and if you have your iPhone nearby, it will display a message that says “Mismatched AirPods Pro.” It also won’t display the case’s battery percentage on the phone.

2nd Generation AirPods Pro placed in a 1st Generation case showing a "Mismatched AirPods Pro" error message on iPhone.

Not even resetting the AirPods (forgetting and pairing them again) will resolve the error. You will still have the “Mismatched AirPods Pro” error.

An attempt to reset the 2nd Generation AirPods Pro in a 1st Generation case does not resolve the "Mismatched AirPods Pro" error, which still appears on iPhone.

This means your AirPods Pro won’t charge at all in the new case.

1st Gen AirPods Pro in 2nd Gen Case

When you do it the other way around and insert 1st Gen AirPods Pro into a 2nd Gen case, you will also get the flashing orange LED on the case. Your AirPods Pro will emit a kind of “dinging” sound,

Mismatch warning sound from AirPods 2nd Gen case

and you will also get a “Mismatched AirPods Pro” error, but it looks slightly different from the previous one, indicating that the AirPods are not yours.

1st Generation AirPods Pro inserted into a 2nd Generation case, producing a flashing orange LED on the case. A "Mismatched AirPods Pro" error message, different from the previous one, appears on nearby iPhone, indicating that the AirPods are not recognized as yours.

Just like when you do it the other way around, your AirPods will not charge, and resetting them by forgetting and pairing them again won’t fix the problem. You will still get the same error message.

1st Generation AirPods Pro in 2nd Generation Case Reset Error, Showing "Mismatched AirPods Pro" message

Any Generation AirPods Pro With The Same Generation’s Case

If you insert your AirPods Pro into another case from the same generation but a different package, it will charge the AirPods and work perfectly. You can even pair them if you want to use the more advanced features.

When you press the button on the case, you will get an error message that says, “Not Your AirPods Pro.” But this will not affect charging at all, and you can safely continue charging your AirPods.

Same generation AirPods Pro charging in a same model matching case, iPhone displaying a "Not Your AirPods Pro" message but still functioning properly.

If you want to continue pairing your AirPods Pro with the new case, you can select the “Connect with iCloud” option, after which the pairing process will work as usual.

Third-Party AirPods Cases

If you don’t want to use a different Apple case for your AirPods, there are many alternatives available made by third-party manufacturers. They are usually compatible if you buy one for your model of AirPods, but you should take note of a few things before buying a third-party AirPods case:

  • Not all “cases” are cases. In fact, if you search for “AirPods case” on most online retailers’ websites, many of the results will be for custom protective covers that simply cover your existing case. They are not a replacement case, just a cover. So, be sure to read the product information properly before you buy.
  • Get one that’s definitely 100% compatible with your model of AirPods. Read through the reviews and comments on any case you plan to buy to see if someone else successfully used the case with the same AirPods you have.
  • Cheaper isn’t always better. Some AirPods cases claim to be perfectly compatible in terms of charging and pairing, but their voltages aren’t always exactly the same as original Apple cases. This could lead to slower charging, lower battery life, or even damage your AirPods’ batteries.
  • Go for a reputable brand. Most big-name brands, like Belkin, have been certified by Apple and manufacture products to the same quality standards. It’s always best to buy from one of those companies.
  • Watch out for fake Apple products. Some companies manufacture sub-standard products that look almost exactly like the real thing, then slap an Apple logo on it to make it look authentic. These products often sell far cheaper than actual Apple products, but they don’t have the same quality and could cause problems. If the price seems too low, be suspicious.

If you follow these guidelines and buy a proper, compatible third-party case for your AirPods, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to charge and pair your AirPods as you would with an authentic Apple case.

Conclusion

1st and 2nd Generation AirPods work perfectly in one another’s cases, but 3rd Gen AirPods and both generations of AirPods Pro will only work in cases designed for their specific model. It’s always best to use a case that was made for your specific model of AirPods or one that’s fully compatible with it, whether it was made by Apple or a certified third-party manufacturer.