Fire in the earhole: No, AirPods don’t spontaneously combust

Macalope

We are fortunate to live in an age of completely responsible online journalism where no one would take advantage of casual readers by carelessly implying something that…

“Apple AirPods Can Catch Fire?”

Are you asking us, International Business Times? Because the answer under all regular usage is “No.”

The headline continues:

“New Headphones’ Batteries Can Ignite If Not Recycled Properly, Breakdown Found.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @designheretic.)

That makes it sound like they could ignite if they’re just lying around. In fact, they only way they might ignite is if they’re recycled improperly.

Sensationalism? In an article on the Internet? Well, now the Macalope has seen everything.

Oh, Internet, how could you?

If you’re a devoted Apple product user, who also wants to preserve the environment via recycling, a breakdown of the technology company’s AirPods may pose a conflict of interest and could catch fire.

AirPods also once killed a guy in Reno, just to watch him die. (That conflict of interest part is never really explained.)

What we have here is a classic example of the phone game, where one person tells another person something and they tell the next person and so on until “AirPods might be difficult to recycle” becomes “Apple forces you to use AirPods which asplode in your ears”. In this instance International Business Times typed up a report from Reuters on iFixit’s findings from their AirPods tear-down and pretty soon you have word soup.

What did Reuters actually say in their article, which uses the more staid headline "Apple's new AirPods tough to recycle: report"?

Recyclers can shred wired headphones and send them to a smelter that will melt them down for the copper inside. But the lithium-ion batteries in AirPods cannot be shredded because they could catch fire while being destroyed.

In other words, if you throw lithium ion batteries in a shredder, they might catch fire. So don’t do that.

But hang on because this Christmas train to Crazytown hasn’t even pulled into the station yet.

With the launch of the iPhone 7, which does not have a headphone jack and thus requires a pair of wireless headphones…

Are we still saying “Buh?” in reaction to things that are completely and utterly wrong because “BUH?!”

…Apple users will no longer receive the white string headphones that are much easier to recycle, according to Reuters.

That… is not what Reuters said. And for a very good reason, because it is simply not correct.

The iPhone 7, of course, comes with wired headphones with a Lightning connector. Might iPhones some day come with wireless headphones? Maybe. But that is not what is happening right now.

As far as the recyclability of the AirPods, they are said to be difficult to recycle, not impossible, and you can just give them to Apple to recycle. Then it’s their problem. This is the company that built a robot that recycles iPhones, after all. But not everyone lives close to an Apple Store and Apple’s mail-in recycling program is through a third party. So maybe they still have some kinks to work out with this product they only just started shipping.

It is an issue that’s important to talk about. But if you’re going to pull a “hey, we re-wrote a story to steal the clicks” at least get the original story right.

To comment on this article and other Macworld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon