What do the letters on an AirPods case mean?

shallow focus photo of Apple AirPods
On the case: strange lettering can be found on AirPods casing

If you hang around the AirPods section of Reddit long enough, you’ll soon see people enquiring about printed letters on AirPod cases. The AirPods are often gifted, but sometimes (allegedly) bought new, even from Apple. What do these letters mean and what can you do about them?

What do the letters on an AirPods case look like?

These letters are large and grey in colour, sometimes within circles, sometimes not. Here are a couple of examples, taken from Reddit in only one day:

What do these letters mean?

Sadly, there is no Da Vinci code to crack here.

If your order your AirPods from Apple, you’re given the option to have them personalised with lettering (or even emoji). What you’re seeing here are personal engravings.

Apple AirPods engraving advert
An advert for the engraving from the Apple online store

Why are these letters seemingly cropping up at random? That’s the $64,000 question. It’s certainly likely that these cases were personalised for someone else, so what you have may not be a new product. Engraved AirPods are sealed in the same way as any other, so if engraved headphones have been resold, it can be difficult to spot. Apple insists it has robust processes in place to prevent this happening in its own online store.

If you bought AirPods new and they have lettering on the casing, take them back.

Can the letters on an AirPods case be removed?

Although the letters look to be printed, Apple devices are engraved using high-powered laser engravers in the manufacturing facilities, which is why this option is only available for the online Apple store. As a result, the engraving can’t be removed.

If you’re unable to return the AirPods, then your options are to replace the case (you can buy cases separately from the Apple Store) or to cover them with one of the many leather or silicon options available.

How do you add engraving to an AirPods case?

When buying AirPods from the Apple Store, the basket will include an option to add free engraving. Click the Add link to the right of this, as shown below:

Apple AirPods engraving options

You’ll now be shown a window in which you can choose the letters and/or characters to use.

Personalise your AirPods promotion

The engraving has to fit on a single line and, depending on which characters you choose, will top out at around 20 characters. The lettering is scaled to fit, so a single letter will be engraved much larger than a long line of characters.

Engraving from Apple is free.

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About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress.com and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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