How long do AirPods last, and is it possible to extend their life?

Each pair of earbuds has a limited battery life. With a few simple steps, you can extend the battery life and longevity of your AirPods.

In 2021, Apple sold over 90 million AirPods. By 2023, almost 200 million of them are expected to be abandoned, since battery life is limited and Apple AirPods are infamously difficult to repair.

What are your options if you already possess an AirPods pair? Make it endure as long as possible! Here’s how long your AirPods should last and how to maximize their life.

This page include information on the new AirPods (3rd generation).
You can also read the full Apple AirPods pro review.

The new AirPods (3rd generation).
New Apple AirPods Pro headphones with Active Noise Cancellation for immersive sound in their Wireless Charging Case

How long do AirPods last?

On a single charge, your AirPods will provide up to 6 hours of listening time or up to 4 hours of speaking time. However, battery life varies across models and is dependent on loudness, feature usage, and a variety of other variables. Additionally, bear in mind that battery life diminishes with time.

On a single charge, a new pair of AirPods (3rd generation) should last you this long:

  • Listening period of up to 6 hours (spatial audio turned off)
  • Listening duration of up to 5 hours (spatial audio enabled)
  • up to four hours of conversation

When the battery is almost depleted, a five-minute charge provides an additional 60 minutes of listening or talking time. Though we suggest charging them for at least 15 to 20 minutes to get close to a full charge.

The MagSafe charging case included with the third generation AirPods stores many charges and may help extend the battery life of your AirPods:

  • 30 hours of listening time maximum
  • up to 20 hours of conversation

After a full charge, your AirPods Pro should have the following amount of juice:

  • Listening duration of up to 5 hours (ANC off)
  • Listening duration of up to 4.5 hours (ANC on)
  • up to 3.5 hours of conversation (ANC on)

Your second-generation AirPods should last this long on a single charge:

  • Listening duration of up to 5 hours
  • up to 3.5 hours of conversation

A 15-minute charge provides 180 minutes of listening time or 120 minutes of conversation time on a low battery. Again, it is preferable to charge them for an extended period of time if possible.

The AirPods and AirPods Pro charging cases may be used to recharge your AirPods for the following purposes:

  • 24 hours of listening time
  • 18 hours of talking time
Apple AirPods wireless
Apple AirPods wireless

How long do your AirPods last?

In genuine wireless earphones, such as the AirPods, the battery is often the first component to fail. As a result, the battery life of your AirPods is the limiting element in terms of how long they will last.

Apart from severe temperatures, the true enemy of a battery is overcharging. Each time you charge your AirPods, a tiny amount of capacity is lost. Regrettably, this decrease is permanent, and the batteries eventually fail altogether. Each battery has a certain number of charge cycles before it loses its ability to retain a charge.

Your AirPods Pro are most likely powered by a Varta CoinPower lithium-ion coin cell. Under ideal circumstances, this battery retains more than 80% of its initial capacity after 500 or more charge cycles, but it degrades rapidly afterwards. With each charge cycle, the battery’s capacity degrades somewhat more but also more rapidly.

According to Tektronix’s white paper, “the normal expected life of a lithium-ion battery is around two to three years or 300 to 500 charge cycles, whichever comes first.” Tektronix recommended that batteries be replaced when their capacity falls below 80%. That is frightening in light of the fact that the Varta coin cells reach that stage after 500 charge cycles, which equates to slightly over 16 months of daily charging.

According to user reviews, the original and second generations of AirPods lasted around two years of daily usage before the batteries decayed to less than an hour of playback time. Of course, this is all dependent on how you use your AirPods. While extending the life of your AirPods beyond two years is unlikely, there are a few things you can do to squeeze extra power from each charge and prolong the batteries’ demise.

wireless headphones. AirPods.

How can you extend the life of your AirPods?

You can prolong the life of your AirPods in a variety of ways: you can try to make each charge last longer, you can treat your AirPods better to extend the overall battery and product lifetime, and you may attempt to repair your AirPods after the batteries eventually fail. Consider each of them in further depth.

How to extend the life of your AirPods per charge

To get the most out of each charge, you’ll need to save battery life:

  • Reduce the volume; it is also healthier for your ears.
  • When you are not using ANC, turn it off.
  • Disable unnecessary smart features such as automated ear recognition, Spatial Audio, and device switching.
  • Utilize just one earbud at a time (turn the other off) and alternate between the two during calls.
  • When not in use, turn off your AirPods.

When they are turned off and have more than 40% of battery life remaining, store them outside the charging case to prevent a premature charge cycle. Of course, unless you put them in a safe, non-charging container, you run the chance of losing one or both earphones. We suggest something as simple as a mints container.

How to prolong the life of your Apple AirPods

Avoiding deep discharges is a simple method to prolong the life of your AirPods. While it’s a good idea to fully charge your AirPods before recharging, you never want to completely empty the batteries. When a lithium-ion battery is over-discharged, irreversible changes in the anode and cathode might occur, resulting in an internal short circuit when the battery is recharged. At the absolute least, a severe drain will reduce the total capacity of the battery.

The sweet spot for optimizing charge cycles while maintaining battery life is between 20% and 40% remaining battery life. When the charge in your AirPods reaches 20%, your iPhone or iPad will tell you; this is the time to recharge them. When you reach 10% and hear the warning tone, you’re really pushing your luck.

Similarly, you don’t want to constantly top up your AirPods. Only a complete recharge is worse than a deep discharge. Maintaining a full charge results in mechanical stress, which reduces the battery’s total life. That is why Apple built the AirPods Pro with optimized battery charging, a function that minimizes the amount of time your AirPods are completely charged. The charging case will not charge your AirPods Pro over 80% until you’re ready to listen to music. Maintaining a charge level below 80% decreases battery wear and extends its life.

Optimized battery charging is only effective when you use your device in a predictable manner. Additionally, an iPhone running iOS 14.2 or later is required. If you own AirPods Pro but none of these criteria apply, we suggest disabling the functionality. Rather than that, develop your own battery conserving behaviors.

It is OK to keep your AirPods on a partially charged state. When you’re not going to use your AirPods for an extended period of time, charge them to around 50%, then take them from the charging case and keep them in a dry, cold location.

What about the case for the AirPods?

Additionally, the charging case battery has a limited lifetime. While placing your AirPods case on a wireless charger is easy, did you realize that inductive charging is incredibly inefficient? Wireless charging takes longer, consumes more energy, and puts the battery under higher heat stress, causing it to deteriorate quicker. To save energy and maintain the case’s capacity, take a few seconds to plug your AirPods case in when it’s time to charge.

How to repair or get your AirPods repaired

Is it really legal for you to fix your own AirPods? While the United States has not yet enacted laws granting people the ability to repair their own equipment, Apple has made preparations to comply. The firm also provides a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) components service, which means it will mail you new parts for your Apple device. The problem is that Apple determines whether a device is repairable, and it has not made repairing any of its gadgets simpler.

Apple intended the AirPods to be clip-free and screw-free. Rather of that, glue keeps the components together, making repair very difficult. As a result, iFixit has classified every model of AirPods as unfixable. You may be able to fix your AirPods yourself with the correct equipment, a steady hand, and a lot of time, but we do not encourage it.

Given that fixing AirPods on your own is impractical, let’s have a look at how you may get them repaired. There are a few alternatives available to you:

  • Apple Support: Apple will cover repairs or replacements if you are still under the warranty term or have bought AppleCare+ (a two-year warranty). You may schedule an appointment with a Genius Bar, bring the device to an Apple Store, or mail it in. You’ll need your serial number, proof of purchase, or the box from which you originally purchased the AirPods.
  • If you’re over the warranty period, you may pay Apple $49 per earbud for battery repair.
  • Swap your old AirPods for a pair that has been refurbished with fresh batteries (earbuds only). At the moment, this service is only accessible to owners of AirPods generation 1 and 2 and to residents of the United States.

Why should you be concerned about the AirPods’ lifespan?

Not only are AirPods prohibitively costly, but their manufacturing has irrevocable social and environmental consequences. This is true of all wireless gadgets, but particularly truly wireless earbuds, whose batteries seldom live more than two years and are notoriously difficult to maintain.

It’s difficult to quantify the effect of AirPods in comparison to wired options such as the EarPods. It would need a comprehensive product Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), from raw material extraction and manufacturing through transportation, consumer energy use, and eventually disposal. We reached out to Apple and a few other makers of true wireless earbuds that claim to do LCAs for estimated figures, but have not received a response. This might be a reflection of the data’s vulnerability.

The most significant distinction between wired and wireless devices is the battery—or, more precisely, the three batteries; one in each earbud and one in the charging case. While rechargeable lithium-ion batteries significantly outperform single-use batteries, they are far from a green technology.

True wireless earbuds’ mass manufacture and disposal have irrevocable social and environmental consequences.
As is the case with the majority of mining operations, the extraction of lithium carbonate, cobalt, nickel, and other elements found in lithium-ion batteries generates toxic waste that has negative environmental and social consequences for the immediate extraction site, workers, and communities downstream of the mine. However, the threat to the ecosystem does not stop with mining. The majority of lithium-ion batteries are disposed of in landfills, where the chemicals may leach back into the earth, causing further environmental harm.

The good news is that lithium-ion battery recycling is gaining momentum, in part because mining cannot keep up with demand and electronic cars further destroy natural resources. Meanwhile, the most effective way to mitigate the impact of your AirPods is to maximize their lifespan. And when the time comes to discard them, make certain they get into the recycling stream.

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