AirPods Keep Disconnecting: Causes and Fixes

A pair of Airpods (From: Pexels)
A pair of Airpods (From: Pexels)

AirPods that keep disconnecting randomly can be a pain. Read on to find out what causes it, and how to fix it on different devices.

AirPods have only grown in popularity since their release in 2016. Though, despite their incredible sales numbers, they’re not perfect. From the start, disconnection issues have been a problem for AirPod users.

The occasional disconnection may not be a huge hindrance at first. But this problem can become more irritating over time. All the more so if it happens in the middle of an important phone call. It can turn a supposedly simple phone call into a series of call-backs.

Today, we’re going to take a look at why your AirPods may be disconnecting, as well as the best solutions to those problems.

A pair of AirPods
A pair of Airpods

Why Your AirPods Keep Disconnecting

Airpods are welcome improvement from the previous Apple earbuds. But it doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own frustrations. There are many reasons why your AirPods may disconnect from your device. Some are easier to fix than others.

Either way, it’s good to have an understanding of what causes the disconnections, so that you can take proactive steps to stop them.

Bluetooth interference

As with all wireless Bluetooth headphones, Airpods are susceptible to Bluetooth interference.

Devices that operate on the same wavelength as Bluetooth can interfere with your Airpods’ connectivity. This causes a variety of issues, including disconnection.

For example, if you’re next to a Wi-Fi router, you may experience Bluetooth interference. This is because the router uses the same 2.4GHz frequency to communicate with other devices on the network.

Issue with iOS Version

If your iOS version is out-of-date, you may encounter bugs or errors that have already been fixed in a later version. These errors can include compatibility issues between your AirPods and device.

To ensure this doesn’t become a problem, make it a habit to keep all of your devices up-to-date so they’ll run smoothly with the latest patches.

Hardware problem

In some cases, the problem can sit within the electronics of the AirPods.

If your AirPods have suffered physical damage over time, there is a chance that the electronics inside may be faulty, causing sporadic performance issues.

Seeing as AirPods are designed to be a portable product, there’s no doubt that they’re going anywhere and everywhere with you.

Because of this, you want to take care of them as best you can. A great way of making sure no harm comes to them is getting a protective case for them to live in. Cleaning your Airpods regularly can help you avoid this problem as well. This prevents damages from accumulated debris or wax build-up.

Wrong settings

If your device isn’t configured with the correct settings, your AirPods may not maintain a consistent connection.

To ensure your AirPods stay connected to each device you pair them with, it’s good practice to review the Bluetooth settings to ensure there are no anomalies.

This can also be a problem when connecting your Airpods with Android. Even though the two can technically work together, the connection isn’t as seamless than when using Airpods with Apple devices. A few settings tweaks are needed and some features may not be available.

Low battery

Since they’re wireless, your AirPods need sufficient charge in order to function properly.

When your AirPods run flat, they will automatically disconnect from any paired device. In some cases, this can also happen randomly if the battery is almost depleted.

Because of this, it’s recommended you keep them charged to avoid questionable performance.

Incompatible Bluetooth versions

Apple AirPods work great with Bluetooth 5.0 devices. Unfortunately, if your Windows PC or other devices use an older Bluetooth version, the AirPods are forced to downgrade their connection to match your audio device. This means that the range and connection quality will not reach the optimal capacity of the AirPods.

Firmware issues

A lot of reports for the issue came with the recent firmware 6.8.8 update. According to some users, a plethora of audio problems came in after the update, including but not limited to: AirPods shutting down after around 30-45 minutes of music-only playback, AirPods disconnecting after around 10 seconds in calls, switching from music playback to calls results in disconnection.

Post about the 6.8.8 firmware update issue (From: elpsilva/Reddit)
Post about the 6.8.8 firmware update issue (From: elpsilva/Reddit)

Unfortunately, this firmware problem remains for 1st generation AirPods. On the other hand, AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro already received a newer update to version 3E751. This fixes the disconnection issues for those devices. So, if you have AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro, make sure to update them to the latest firmware.

To do this, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to your iOS Settings, and tap Bluetooth.
  2. Locate your AirPods in the list of devices
  3. Tap the ‘i’ icon beside them.
  4. On the next page, you can check the current firmware version your AirPods have. If it’s version 3E751, you already have the latest firmware. If not, simply connect your AirPods to your iPhone with your WiFi on, and it should automatically install the update.

Quick Fixes for AirPods That Keep Disconnecting

Finding and fixing your AirPods’ disconnection problem is relatively easy, and in most cases, can be done in a matter of minutes.

Below, you will find a multitude of solutions that may stop your AirPods from disconnecting. Before making any changes to your Settings, be sure to start with the first solution and work your way down.

Check the AirPods’ battery level

First and foremost, you should check how much battery your AirPods have left. In order for your AirPods to connect to your device (and stay connected), they will need enough battery.

Checking the battery of your AirPods on iOS

  1. With the AirPods inside their case, open the lid and hold them close to your device.
  2. After a few seconds, the remaining battery amount will show on your screen.
Alternatively, you can check the charge status of your AirPods on iOS using the battery widget.

Checking the battery of your AirPods on Mac

  1. Take your AirPods out of their case, and leave them out.
  2. On your Mac, click on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar. It should automatically display their current battery percentage of each earbud, as well as the case.

    AirPods' battery on Mac
    AirPods’ battery on Mac

If there is no Bluetooth symbol, enable it by going to System Preferences > Bluetooth and ticking the “Show Bluetooth in menu bar” option.

Check that Bluetooth is turned on

In order for your device to establish and hold a connection with your AirPods, your Bluetooth needs to be on.

If you encounter issues when connecting to your AirPods, try turning your Bluetooth off then on again. This ensures that the closest device (your AirPods) are the first to connect.

Enabling Bluetooth on iPhone and iPad

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Go to Bluetooth.
  3. Toggle the switch to the right to turn Bluetooth on.
If you have Siri enabled, you can also ask Siri to enable Bluetooth by saying “Hey Siri”, then “Turn on Bluetooth”. For instructions on Mac, go to our guide on how to connect any BlueTooth headphones on Mac.

Enabling Bluetooth on PC

  1. Right-click on the Start button, and left-click Settings.

    Going into Settings on Windows 10.
    Going into Settings on Windows 10.

  2. Click on Devices and toggle the switch to the right to turn Bluetooth on.

    Turning on Bluetooth.
    Turning on Bluetooth.

If you encounter any issue in enabling Bluetooth on PC, feel free to check out our article on the different problems and solutions in connecting Bluetooth headphones to PC.

Put the AirPods back in the case (then take them out again)

If your AirPods disconnect, sometimes they won’t automatically reconnect. If this happens, put them back in their case.

When you put your AirPods back in their case, they will begin charging. This automatically eliminates any paired connection.

After 5 seconds, remove them from the case and put them back in your ears. The AirPods will then automatically reconnect to your device, and once the lid to your case is opened, it will establish a fresh connection.

Reset your Airpods

Over time, it’s not uncommon for AirPods to run into issues. This includes the AirPods not charging, not connecting, and of course, random disconnections. These can usually be fixed with a simple reset.

When you reset your AirPods, you remove any paired device history. This will effectively reset them back to factory settings so that your device is the first to pair with them.

  1. Put both of your AirPods back in their case, and ensure they each have a decent charge (above 75%).
  2. Open the lid to your AirPods case, and hold down the button on the back of the case for 20 seconds.
  3. You will see the indicator inside the case turn from flashing white to flashing amber, which indicates the AirPods have been successfully reset.

Turn off ‘Automatic Ear Detection’

Each AirPod contains a sensor that tells them when they’re in use, and when they aren’t.

This sensor can sometimes have trouble detecting if they’re in your ear or not, which results in them disconnecting themselves in an attempt to save power. It’s especially worse when you’re having trouble keeping your Airpods in place. A slight change in position may trigger the Automatic Ear Detection and cause disconnection.

To isolate your disconnection issue, you can disable this setting to see if it fixes the problem.

  1. Before starting, make sure your case is open. Once open, go to Settings, then select Bluetooth.
  2. Tap on the “i” that’s on the right side of your AirPods in the list of devices.
  3. Deselect the Automatic Ear Detection option.

Now, if you’ve checked all the general fixes and the problem still persists, it may be an issue within your specific audio device settings. Skip to the next sections for how to keep your AirPods connected and working properly on Mac, iPhone/iPad, Apple Watch, or Windows PC.

Airpods keep disconnecting on Mac

To ensure the audio from your Mac is coming through your AirPods, check to confirm they are the preferred output device.

  1. On your Mac, open System Preferences.

    Go into System Preferences
    Go into System Preferences

  2. From here, click Sound, then click Output.

    Go into Sound, then click Output
    Go into Sound, then click Output

  3. Select your AirPods from the device list to ensure they’re the active output device.

    Make sure AirPods is the selected output device
    Make sure AirPods is the selected output device

Airpods keep disconnecting on an iPhone or iPad

If you have some incorrect settings on your iPhone or iPad, this can easily be fixed by forgetting the AirPods from your device and connecting to them again.

  1. Go into Settings on your iPhone or iPad, and go into your Bluetooth section.
  2. Tap on the “i” icon next to your AirPods.
  3. Select Forget This Device, then tap again to confirm.
  4. Restart your device, then connect to the AirPods again.

    Connecting the AirPods
    Connecting the AirPods

If this doesn’t work, try forgetting all of the previously connected devices in your Bluetooth list before reconnecting your AirPods. This will prioritize the AirPods.

Airpods keep disconnecting on Apple Watch

If your AirPods are facing issues with your Apple Watch, there is a really easy fix to making sure they’re both performing at their best.

  1. Start by turning off your Apple Watch, then your iPhone.
     

  2. Turn your iPhone on, and then your Apple Watch.
    Make sure to turn on your iPhone before your Apple Watch to ensure this fix is performed properly.
  3. Once both devices are back on, connect your Airpods to your Apple Watch and check for performance issues.
     
If this doesn’t work after carefully following the steps, try resetting the Airpods.

Airpods keep disconnecting on Windows PC

Now, unlike other devices, AirPods disconnecting on Windows PC can be a little tricky. This is mainly because there are various possible issues involved.

Before proceeding, make sure that your AirPods have the latest firmware update.

Let’s talk about how to fix each of them below!

Disable Power Management

If you use your AirPods with a Windows PC, you may have noticed that when a song is paused, the automatic on/off function inside your AirPods can sometimes cause them to disconnect in an attempt to save power. This is because they think there is no longer a device connected.

To fix this, you can alter some settings within Windows.

  1. Right-click on your Start button and click Device Manager.

    Access Device Manager
    Access Device Manager

  2. Click on View, and ensure that ‘Devices by type’ is the chosen option."View
  3. Expand the Human Interface Devices section, and you will find two entries: “<Name> AirPods Audio/Video Remote Control HID” and “<Name> AirPods Hands-Free Call Control HID”

    Toggle Human Interface Devices
    Toggle Human Interface Devices

  4. For each, right-click and select Properties.

    Click on Properties
    Click on Properties

  5. There, go to ‘Power Management’. Uncheck the ‘Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power’ option, then click ‘OK’.

    Disable Power Management
    Disable Power Management

There are some cases where the AirPods don’t appear in the list of Human Interface Devices. If that’s the case, you can try clicking on View in the taskbar at the top and select “Show Hidden Devices

View drop down menu
View drop-down menu

Utilize Services App

You can also try fixing the issue by setting your Bluetooth services from manual to automatic in the Windows Services app.

Setting software to automatic in the Windows Services app allows them to start or end without user intervention. This is great for those you need to run in the background without interference — such as Bluetooth.

For this, follow these steps:

  1. Search for the ‘Services’ app by clicking the search icon in the Windows taskbar.

    Search for 'Services'
    Search for ‘Services’

  2. In the Services window, scroll down until you find ‘Bluetooth Audio Gateway Service‘ and ‘Bluetooth Support Service‘.

    Bluetooth Audio Gateway and Bluetooth Support Services
    Bluetooth Audio Gateway and Bluetooth Support Services

  3. Double-click on the Bluetooth Audio Gateway Service and set their startup type to Automatic. Do the same with the Bluetooth Support Service.

    Set to automatic
    Set to automatic

  4. Once all the changes are applied, restart your device and see if the problem still persists.

Uninstall Bluetooth Devices

Now, if your AirPods don’t appear in the Human Interface Devices and it’s already set at “Automatic” in services but your AirPods still act out, you can hard reset your Bluetooth by uninstalling the devices. Doing so will remove all the bugs, and, hopefully, help you enjoy your connection for longer than a few seconds.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your Device Manager by searching for it in the Windows search bar.

    Search for the device manager
    Search for the device manager

  2. Click on ‘Bluetooth’, and uninstall the devices one-by-one until all of them disappears.

    Uninstall Bluetooth Devices
    Uninstall Bluetooth Devices

  3. Once all of them are uninstalled, restart your Windows PC. This will allow the Bluetooth drivers to reinstall without any of their past bugs.

Use a Bluetooth dongle

Bluetooth dongle
Bluetooth dongle

As mentioned earlier, the problem may also occur if your AirPods and PC support different Bluetooth versions. If your PC has a lower version than Bluetooth 5.0, your AirPods may be forced to downgrade their connection capacity, ultimately causing disconnection issues.

While you can’t exactly upgrade the built-in Bluetooth version in your device, you can use a Bluetooth dongle with version 5.0 instead. This allows your Windows PC to match your AirPods’ version, and provides a faster data transfer and a more stable connection.

Conclusion

Now that you have the necessary knowledge to stop your headphones from disconnecting on their own, you can enjoy audio that’s free of interruptions.

Did the above solutions fix your problem? Let us know in the comments below!

15 comments

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the article. I’m havind the disconnection issues with my Windws PC. I tried following the steps described here, but I don’t have the “ AirPods Audio/Video Remote Control HID” and “ AirPods Hands-Free Call Control HID” under the Human Interface Devices section, even though my AirPods are connected… What can I do?

    1. Hi Omer! Can you try clicking on View > “Show Hidden Devices” in the device manager?

      Also, there’s a new AirPods firmware update that’s supposed to solve this issue.

      Let me know if this works! 🙂

  2. I have this same issue with not seeing this text listed in the Human Interface Devices section and am curious if there’s a workaround.

  3. Notice problems all happening on April. ^
    NOTHING works. Checked all forums.

    Device manager:
    Blutooth low batt
    human whatever drivers

    Checked other tips:
    Restarting of pc, AirPods, other connected devices;
    firmware checks.

    Help.

  4. they aren’t listed in Human Interface but in the audio inputs and outputs. Unfortunately those items don’t have a power settings tab.

  5. Ive tried everything .. resetting.. deleting.. renaming.. nothing fixes the problem.. .. they connect properly.. but as soon as you try to listen to anything.. the left goes first after 10 seconds then the right…. got me beat!!

  6. Same here, i had no problems day 1. now I annot get them to stay connected. I am a nurse practitioner who purchased these to help my patients hear me better. It is not working for me or them but it was great day 1.

  7. Hi everyone! Thank you for voicing out your concerns! We did a few research and experiments and added a few more solutions to AirPods disconnecting on Windows PC. 🙂 Feel free to check out the update in the article!

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