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AirPods Not Connecting to Your iPhone or iPad? Here’s How to Fix Them

Using AirPods with iPad
Using AirPods with iPad

If your AirPods or AirPods Pro are not connecting to your iPhone or iPad, here are the tried and proven solutions you can try.

Connecting your AirPods with other Apple devices is convenient and, most of the time, seamless, but this automatic pairing function isn’t bulletproof.

It can be especially frustrating if everything has been going smoothly, leaving you with no idea what’s changed. And when your AirPods won’t even connect to other Apple products, it’s not unreasonable to consider sending them back and going for a different brand. What a hassle!

Fortunately, we know the best tips and tricks to help you connect your AirPods to your iPhone or iPad! Read on to find out the tried and tested methods that will help you fix your problem before you decide to make an expensive purchase.

Why Are Your Airpods Not Connecting?

A wide variety of things, such as low battery, firmware issues, connection bugs, or even physical issues, can cause connection issues for your AirPods.

Sometimes the dirt from inside your ears can build up inside your earbuds and interrupt the connection. Other times a bug or glitch in the firmware built into your AirPods can mess up the Bluetooth searching, or the Bluetooth itself can fail and not recognize your AirPods. This can happen with both mobile devices and a Mac or PC.

It can be difficult to figure out precisely what’s wrong with your AirPods, so it’s a good idea to run through some preliminary checks before you dive right into the technical side of things!

AirPods Not Connecting: Preliminary Troubleshooting Tips

If you’re unsure of what to do first, preliminary checks and general troubleshooting are a good start.

Most of the time, these simple solutions would fix your problem. Only after exhausting these should you try out more advanced solutions.

Reset your AirPods

Resetting your AirPods is one of the most basic yet most effective solutions you can try out. This will help fix any software or firmware issues that might be messing up your connection by resetting your AirPods to factory default.

By resolving firmware issues and other bugs, resetting deletes all the data from the AirPods where these issues may have slipped in, and disconnects all of your previously paired devices, giving your AirPods a fresh start.

Here’s how to reset AirPods:

  1. Put your AirPods in their case and close the lid. Wait for about 30 seconds.

    AirPods inside closed case
    AirPods inside closed case
  2. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth and tap the More Info (🛈) button next to your AirPods. (If your Airpods aren’t visible, go to step 4.)

    Going to AirPods settings on iPhone
    Going to AirPods settings on iPhone
  3. Tap Forget This Device and confirm it.

    Forgetting AirPods on iPhone
    Forgetting AirPods on iPhone
  4. Open the charging case. Then, press and hold the setup button on the back of the case for about fifteen seconds, until the status light flashes amber and then white.

    Resetting AirPods
    Resetting AirPods
  5. With the case still open, place your AirPods near your device and follow the instructions on the screen to reconnect them.

    Reconnecting AirPods to iPhone
    Reconnecting AirPods to iPhone

Clean the AirPods

Over time, dirt from your ears can accumulate on your AirPods and wreak havoc. Dirty AirPods may harbor bacteria and moisture that can cause electrical damage, blocking the proximity sensors, and preventing proper connection.

Cleaning your AirPods will remove the cause of these issues.

However, if you’re not aware of how to do this right, cleaning your AirPods might result in more harm than good.

You may end up worsening the problem by pushing dirt into the wrong spots, or you might use a cleaning agent that is too corrosive. Before anything else, be sure that you know how to properly clean your AirPods.

To clean your AirPods the right and safe way, you will need:

  • 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • cotton swabs
  • a toothpick
  • an old toothbrush.

Here’s a quick run-through on how to clean your AirPods:

  1. Dampen your toothbrush and cotton buds with alcohol. Then, use them to brush through the AirPods’ edges and crevices. Do this for the charging case as well.

    Brushing the AirPods with toothbrush or cotton swab
    Brushing the AirPods with toothbrush or cotton swab
  2. Use the toothpick to pick out the remaining debris or dirt stuck to the AirPods’ edges and the case.

    Using a toothpick to reach inside your AirPods
    Using a toothpick to reach inside your AirPods
  3. Use a lint-free cloth to rub the pieces with a little alcohol just to kill off any bacteria.

    Wiping AirPods off with a cloth
    Wiping AirPods off with a cloth
A pro-tip to keep your AirPods squeaky clean is to clean them every 72 hours of listening time to prevent bacteria and other buildups from invading your device. Remember to also maintain ear hygiene, considering earwax is a major source of dirt.

Update your AirPods to the latest firmware

Updating your AirPods will ensure that they operate on the same system as your device, optimizing their performance.

In addition, the latest firmware will have patches and updates that will fix all the bugs that Apple is currently aware of. This includes whatever might be messing up your connection!

Your AirPods are operated by firmware, allowing them to function properly. But, much like any software, a bug may arise from firmware due to coding errors or incompatibility. Some of these bugs may be the culprit for your connection issues.

To check what firmware your AirPods are operating on, you should:

  1. Open your Settings app and go to General > About.

    Checking AirPods details
    Checking AirPods details
  2. Select your AirPods and check what version of firmware they are using.

    The AirPods' current firmware version
    The AirPods’ current firmware version
  3. Check the latest version of the firmware on the official Apple website; if your AirPods don’t match, you will need to update your firmware.

Currently, there is no way to update the firmware of your AirPods manually or without an iPhone. They automatically get updated when connecting to an iPhone that is connected to the internet.

So, to update your firmware, you should simply make sure that your iPhone is connected to a secure internet connection and then restart your AirPods.

Make sure your AirPods have enough charge

Power issues can also get in the way of proper connectivity. A low charge can mean that your AirPods start to cut power to some functions.

That’s why, if your AirPods are tugging between life and death, the Bluetooth connection can get spotty and performance may drop. At times, AirPods with low batteries would not even connect at all.

There are multiple ways to check your AirPods’ battery status. The simplest way is to bring your charging case close to your iPhone and raise the lid to open up the battery prompt. Another way is to check the battery widget of your iPhone while the AirPods are connected.

Checking Battery status of AirPods on iPhone
Checking Battery status of AirPods on iPhone
The AirPods were designed to get up to 5 hours of listening time on a full charge, and the charging case can charge up your AirPods around 4-5 times.

Disable other apps

Sometimes, apps that can interfere with your Bluetooth connection may be running in the background. This prevents your device from connecting to other devices, such as your AirPods. Disabling their Bluetooth permission will clear up the signal.

Many apps ask for Bluetooth permissions each time you use them, and you might have accepted them without actually knowing what they do. For example, during the pandemic, various governments and tech giants developed contact tracing apps equipped with Bluetooth to track people’s whereabouts and cope with the spread of COVID-19.

Apps like the TraceTogether app use BlueTrace protocols to turn your mobile devices into Bluetooth beacons to detect other devices around them using Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI).

While this system may be effective at combating COVID-19, it can also harbor connection bugs. This could be why your device might constantly be detecting other devices instead of connecting to your AirPods.

If this is your issue, there are two ways to disable Bluetooth for these apps. The simplest way is via the privacy settings.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Go to Settings and select Privacy.

    Getting to the privacy settings
    Getting to the privacy settings
  2. Select Bluetooth.

    Privacy settings for Bluetooth.
    Privacy settings for Bluetooth.
  3. Here, you can view all the apps that you have given permission to use your on-device Bluetooth.

    Apps which have requested Bluetooth permissions are shown.
    Apps that have requested Bluetooth permissions are shown.
  4. You can either toggle all of them off or for specific apps only.

If you know of a particular app that is constantly using Bluetooth as a beacon on your device like the TraceTogether app, you can directly toggle it off with these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.

    Settings menu on an iPhone.
    Settings menu on an iPhone.
  2. Scroll further down to search for and select the app. They are arranged in alphabetical order.

    Settings menu for individual apps in alphabetical order.
    Settings menu for individual apps in alphabetical order.
  3. Toggle the Bluetooth permission off.

    Permissions asked by an app.
    Permissions asked by an app.

Restart your audio source

If you’ve reset your AirPods already, but the problem persists, then there’s a chance that the audio source is the cause of the problem. A quick restart of your iOS device is advisable in this case to give the device a fresh start without bugs or performance issues.

To restart your iPhone, you should:

  1. Press and hold the side button on your iPhone until the power-off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider and wait about 30 seconds for your iPhone to turn off. If your device is frozen or unresponsive, force-start your device.
  3. Press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears.
You’ll need to follow the same process to restart your iPad, except you’ll have to press either the volume button (on the side) or the top button until the power-off slider appears for the first step.

If this doesn’t work, don’t lose hope just yet. There are still some more things you could try out on your iPhone or iPad to solve the problem. We’ll discuss those in detail in the coming sections, so just stick around for a bit.

How to Fix AirPods Not Connecting to iPhone or iPad

AirPods and iPhones are designed to have the optimal pairing to the point that you can even connect two AirPods in one iPhone.

With your AirPods not pairing, it can be hard to figure out what’s wrong. If you’ve run through the preliminary troubleshooting steps and the problem persists, then here are some other solutions you can try.

Manually connect AirPods to your iPhone

Sometimes the automatic pairing between your AirPods and iPhone fails. When this happens, your iPhone won’t detect your AirPods.

Manually connecting your AirPods through Bluetooth will ensure that any bugs in the automatic pairing feature are bypassed.

To manually connect your AirPods to your iPhone or iPad, here’s what you should do:

  1. Put your AirPods in their case and close the lid.
  2. Place the case next to your iPhone and open the lid again.
  3. Hold the button on the back of the case for about 10 seconds until a blinking white light appears.
  4. Launch the Bluetooth setting on your iPhone and select the AirPods from the list of recognized devices.
  5. Confirm the pairing.
Make sure your iPhone is updated with the latest version of iOS.

Check your iOS/iPadOS version

Ensuring that your iPhone is up-to-date is crucial in preventing issues when connecting to your AirPods. The AirPods may work with any device running in iOS 10 or higher, but that should not be a reason to let iOS updates off the hook.

Both your AirPods’ firmware and iPhone’s software need to be updated to ensure they perform as well as they should be. If you fail to update your iPhone, bugs and other issues may remain on your phone, including those causing your connection issues.

To check for the latest iOS/iPadOS software update, follow these steps:

  1. Head to Settings > General

    General iPhone Settings
    General iPhone Settings
  2. Choose Software Update to check if there is an update available.

    Checking Software version on iPhone
    Checking Software version on iPhone
Remember to turn on Automatic Updates on the Software Update menu to ensure that you get the latest update as soon as you can. It’s also a good measure to turn on automatic iCloud Backup by going to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud Backup. This would ensure that your phone is always ready to be updated anytime.

Restart Bluetooth connection

Much like restarting your device, restarting your Bluetooth connection can also help clear up some problems.

When you are using a device, little pieces of information are stored in the background without you ever knowing about it– things like your browsing history or activity on your apps. Such storage of information is known as RAM, or Random Access Memory.

When your RAM is full, it slows down your device, resulting in lag and glitches. Restarting your system will clear this memory and fix these problems.

Additionally, restarting a system will force it to start from the beginning of its programming. This means that if it encountered some kind of glitch or bug that resulted in your AirPods not showing up on Bluetooth, it would be unlikely for it to happen again.

Restarting the Bluetooth connection between your iPhone and AirPods is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Just head on to Settings > Bluetooth.

    Bluetooth Settings on iPhone
    Bluetooth Settings on iPhone
  2. Press the “i” button beside your AirPods’ name.

    Additional settings for AirPods on iPhone
    Additional settings for AirPods on iPhone
  3. Click disconnect and turn off your Bluetooth for a minute.

    Disconnecting AirPods from iPhone
    Disconnecting AirPods from iPhone
  4. Open the lid of your AirPods again to automatically connect it back to your iPhone.

    Instant connect on AirPods
    Instant connect on AirPods

Reset network settings

Restarting and resetting are two slightly different processes. With restarting, you’re just giving the AirPods and the iPhone/iPad a chance to pair up again. Resetting, on the other hand, pertains to totally deleting all existing data between the two in order to establish a brand new connection.

With that in mind, resetting your iPhone’s/iPad’s Network Settings deletes all internal data related to wireless connections. To be more exact, this will remove WiFi and Bluetooth data, and forget all devices you’ve connected to.

As a result, this will effectively remove all bugs that may be causing the connection issues with your AirPods.

Resetting Network Settings removes all WiFi passwords as well. Before doing this, make sure that you have important WiFi passwords listed out somewhere like your Notes app for easier access in the future.

To reset your Network Settings for iOS/iPadOS 14 or earlier, follow these steps:

  1. Head to Settings > General

    General Settings
    General Settings
  2. Click Reset.

    Resetting settings on iPhone
    Resetting settings on iPhone
  3. Reset Network Settings. You will be asked to provide your passcode to confirm the command.

    Resetting Network settings on iPhone
    Resetting Network settings on iPhone

For iOS/iPadOS 15 or later, here’s how you can apply the reset:

  1. Go over to Settings > General

    Going to General settings
    Going to General settings
  2. Click Transfer or Reset [Device]

    Transfer or Reset iPhone
    Transfer or Reset iPhone
  3. Then Reset > Reset Network Settings.

    Resetting Network Settings on iOS
    Resetting Network Settings on iOS
Doing this will also reset your previously used Wi-Fi passwords, cellular settings, and even VPN and APN settings.

Turn off ‘Low Power Mode’

Low Power Mode is a protocol that limits the background functions of an iPhone/iPad to preserve the battery. This mode prompts to be activated once the iPhone reaches 20%.

Low Power Mode was released together with iOS 9. This is available on all variants of iPhones and iPads sold in the market today.

Once you are in Low Power Mode, your phone may not work as efficiently since performance will be sacrificed to save up battery life. As a result, wireless connections such as Bluetooth can be spotty, and that’s one reason why you may be experiencing connectivity issues with your AirPods.

Here’s how you can turn off Low Power Mode:

  1. Swipe down from the top of your screen to pull down the Control Center.

    Pulling down the Control Center on iPhone
    Pulling down the Control Center on iPhone
  2. Click the Battery icon to turn off the Low Power Mode.

    Low Power Mode in Control Center
    Low Power Mode in Control Center
  3. You can also go to Settings> Battery and toggle Low Power Mode there.

    Low Power Mode on iPhone Settings
    Low Power Mode on iPhone Settings

DFU restore your iPhone

DFU mode stands for Device Firmware Update mode and is a special recovery mode built into all iPhones.

Restoring your phone from DFU mode will fix problems built into the phone’s firmware rather than just in the software. This will essentially reset your iPhone to factory default, meaning that any viruses or conflicting settings that might have been acquired through regular usage of the phone will be deleted and reset.

Software and firmware are often interchanged in today’s digital world, but they’re technically different. Firmware is a type of software that serves as the operating system of less complex devices such as your AirPods. Software is an advanced operating system used by more complicated devices such as smartphones and laptops.

However, this method will result in a loss of all your personal data and files stored on your iPhone/iPad, including pictures, videos, messages, user-imposed settings and apps. It is advisable to back up all of the important files on your phone/iPad and restore them afterward as it will be erased from your device.

Be warned that using this mode to downgrade or jailbreak your iPhone/iPad can cause irreparable damage and void the warranty. Only follow these steps if you are confident in what you’re doing and willing to take the risk of damaging your device

Before you enter DFU mode, you should:

  • Back up your iPhone/iPad.
  • Install the latest version of iTunes/Finder on your iPhone or iPad and Mac or Windows PC.
  • Get a compatible USB cable to connect your iPhone and PC or Mac.
  • Make sure your connection is secure, as you should not disconnect your device when the software and firmware are being actively reinstalled.
  • Ensure that your device is not water damaged, as DFU mode will not work to restore a damaged device.
  • Make sure that your iPhone is an iPhone 8 or later.

To enter DFU mode on an iPhone 8 or later (or if you’re using iPad Pro/iPad Air 2019/iPad Mini 2019, you should:

  1. Connect your iPhone/iPad to your PC or Mac using the compatible USB cable.
  2. Open the updated iTunes/Finder app on both devices.
  3. Press and release the Volume Up button, then the Volume Down.
  4. Press and hold the Power button for about ten seconds, until the screen goes black.
  5. Continue to hold the power button, but also hold the Volume Down button for roughly five seconds.
  6. Release the Power button, and continue to hold the Volume Down button until iTunes/Finder detects an iPhone in recovery mode. This should appear as a message in your iTunes or Finder app.
  7. Click on Restore iPhone to restart your iOS.

Contact Apple Support

As always, the experts will know best! If none of these at-home methods have worked for you, then it’s worth contacting Apple Support with your problem.

To contact Apple Support directly, you will need to call the number listed for your country. Alternatively, you could contact support online to connect by chat or email.

Fortunately, with an average call time of fewer than six minutes and ranked at number one for customer support compared to other tech companies, you should be able to get your problem solved with ease by a seasoned professional.

You can have a smoother experience getting support by first writing out exactly what’s wrong with your AirPods and listing all the techniques you’ve already tried. This will let Apple tech support figure out exactly how to help you, and should streamline the process.

Want to know how you can connect your AirPods to PS4, PS4 Pro, or PS5? Here’s a handy guide to help you learn all about how you can use AirPods for gaming.

Conclusion

Hopefully, your AirPods should now be pairing seamlessly with your iPhone or iPad, and you can now listen to music and podcasts anywhere!

You should also be equipped with all the necessary knowledge to fix this issue if it arises again. Although, there are other different solutions to try if your AirPods keep disconnecting.

Do you have any more solutions that we haven’t mentioned? What worked for you? Let us know through the comments so that everyone can try them out too!

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