Going wireless, whether you’re talking about a mouse, a speaker or a pair of headphones, is wonderfully convenient: who wants to worry about cables getting tangled up or snagged? But there are downsides too, and the most obvious of these concerns the battery.
AirPods wireless earbuds have what you might call a primary battery life of around five hours, before you have to put them back in their case for charging. That’s time when you can’t listen to music, but at least you can do it on the go. But after around 24 hours the case itself will be drained of power, and at that point you’ve got to head to a mains plug.
Is there any way to make your earbuds last longer between charges? Yes. In this article we offer some tips that will help you extend the AirPods’ battery life.
How long do AirPods last?
Apple says a pair of AirPods should last around five hours if you’re playing music, or around two hours of talk time, before needing to be recharged. The charging case should be good for around 24 hours, or 11 hours of talk time.
If you’re seeing times significantly lower than this, your AirPods may be faulty. You could
contact Apple support, look into the possibility of a
battery fix, or
buy a new pair. (Check our roundup of the
best AirPods deals first, though.)
How to make AirPods battery last longer
We have seven tips below to help you maximise the battery life of your AirPods. Read on to find out how you can extend your AirPods battery life.
1. Keep AirPods in their case
As a general principle you should always return the AirPods to their case when not being listened to – this is good protection against damage and loss, too. This won’t improve your overall battery life but will mean the buds are always topped up and you’ll get more listening time before you next have to charge up.
2. Don’t fiddle with the case
Apple itself warns that repeatedly opening and closing the case can reduce its battery charge. So don’t do that.
3. Only listen to one earbud at a time
If you listen to a single earbud instead of both at once, you’re using up power at half the rate you normally would – and because one bud charges while the other is working, you never have to stop listening to music until the case itself is drained.
Granted, the resultant mono audio experience isn’t quite what you signed up for when you shelled out £159/$159 for the AirPods (and you’ll need to alternate between left and right ears), but it’s better than nothing, and a manageable compromise if battery life is a concern.
Note that a few people listen like this anyway (at least some of the time, such as when cycling), because it allows you to be more aware of potential hazards in the world around you.
4. Avoid extremes of temperature
Batteries perform less well in extreme heat or cold – and these conditions may cause long-term damage too. Try to keep your AirPods out of direct sunlight where possible (ie when you’re not using them).
5. Go easy on the smart features
The AirPods have some smart features that are handy but not essential.
You can turn off Automatic Ear Detection on the paired iPhone: go to Settings > Bluetooth, tap the AirPods, then tap Automatic Ear Detection so it turns white. If you do this, however, you must remember to turn off music manually when you take out your buds, or you’ll be burning power unnecessarily.
Similarly, try not to use the double-tap feature unless you really need to.
6. Turn down the volume
A set of AirPods playing music at a low volume will last a bit longer than a pair blasting it at top volume. It’s also better for your ears.
Note, however, AirPods use more power on things like Bluetooth than on the drivers, so we’d expect the savings to be small.
7. Get a power bank
If you try the above tips and still aren’t happy with your AirPods’ battery life, there’s nothing for it: we’ll have to spend some money. A good-quality power bank shouldn’t be too expensive, and even a moderate-capacity unit will be sufficient for multiple charges.
The AirPods charging case has a Lightning port, so make sure you’re set up for that: either get a power bank with its own dedicated Lightning cable or remember to bring your own USB-to-Lightning cable along.
Our guide to the
best power banks and battery packs will help you find the right option for you.