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How Long Do AirPods Last (And How You Can Extend Their Lifespan)

Old AirPods outside their case
Old AirPods outside their case

There’s little to dislike about AirPods – except their finite battery life. Luckily, we’ve got the tips to prolong your AirPods’ battery life and overall lifespan.

As AirPods users, it’s easy to get accustomed to their top-of-the-line functionality known to transform the user’s listening experience. But along with this convenience comes the nagging worry that the batteries will run out, or worse, suddenly stop working.

The truth is, AirPods and their batteries have a finite lifespan, after which they won’t work. And although this is inevitable, it can be challenging to identify the warning signs that could have helped you prepare for the worst.

If you’ve been asking, “how long do AirPods last?”, this guide provides an answer to the same. The article also highlights a few tricks for stretching your AirPods’ lifespan, so that you can enjoy them for a while longer. Let’s get started!

How Long Does the AirPods’ Battery Last?

Your AirPods’ battery lifespan depends on its model and other factors like volume level and use of features.

Take for instance, the battery life testing conducted for the 2016 (1st Gen) AirPods. To execute the same, Apple connected the AirPods to an iPhone 7 and set the volume to 50%. Then, they played a playlist of 358 unique tracks until the first AirPod went off to determine how long 1st Gen AirPods last.

The results? 1st Gen AirPods provided up to 5 hours of listening time and 2 hours of talk time. That’s all from one charge, thanks to Apple’s W1 chip.

This battery life test is the same for all AirPods models with a few differences. Apple conducted the test for the 2nd Gen AirPods with an iPhone Xs Max, while the 3rd Gen tests were conducted with an iPhone 13 Pro Max.

All AirPods cases, on the other hand, provide about 24 hours of listening time and 18 hours of talk time.

Learn how you can check your AirPods’ battery on different Apple and Android devices using our comprehensive guide.

Here’s how many hours each AirPods model lasts:

AirPods 2nd Generation battery life

On one charge, the 2nd Gen AirPods offer up to 5 hours of listening time and 3 hours of talk time. However, you can get more than 24 hours of accumulated use or up to 18 hours of talk time from charging the AirPods in their case.

Alternatively, you can fast-charge your AirPods for about 15 minutes if you’re in a rush. This charge gets you about 3 hours of listening time and close to 2 hours of talk time.

AirPods 3rd Generation battery life

A single charge for the 3rd Gen AirPods offers up to 6 hours of listening time and 4 hours of talk time.

Keep in mind that enabling spatial audio reduces your listening time to about 5 hours.

The 3rd Generation AirPods also give up to 30 hours of accumulated use with multiple case charges. If you don’t have the time, you can fast-charge your Airpods for 5 minutes for about an hour of listening and talk time.

AirPods Pro battery life

Contrary to expectations, the AirPods Pro offer a relatively shorter battery life than the 2nd and 3rd Gen Airpods. For a single charge, the Airpods Pro give up to 4.5 hours of listening time and 3.5 hours of talk time.

However, if you turn your Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency off, you can get up to 5 hours of listening time.

The AirPods Pro also offer more than 24 hours of accumulated use when you charge them from the case multiple times. If you need a fast charge, you can plug your Airpods Pro in for 5 minutes. This charge returns close to one hour of listening and talk time.

How Long Do AirPods Last: Their Average Lifespan

AirPods typically last about 2-3 years before most users feel the need to replace them. This short lifespan is because of their lithium-ion batteries.

AirPods have proven tough in several durability tests and have shown that they can withstand pressure. The bottom line? AirPods are durable. But, of course, they also “die.” What does that mean?

Well, given the expense, AirPods don’t last nearly as long as they should because their batteries die early.

Ironically, the battery gradually deteriorates after every charge. The more you charge your AirPods, the less charge they can hold. Soon, your AirPods won’t last for the stipulated 5 hours. This happens because AirPods are equipped with lithium-ion batteries prone to faster degradation with every subsequent charge.

Lithium-ion batteries can cause an explosion when taken apart or damaged. This makes it harder for users to get the old, worn-out batteries repaired. The only solution that remains, then, is to get a replacement battery for the AirPods or their case, thus, driving up AirPods’ maintenance costs even more!

Don’t get confused though, despite their lousy rep regarding durability, lithium-ion batteries are still known to be the best. Apple chose them because they charge faster and last longer than regular batteries. They even have more battery life capacity.

However, lithium-ion batteries deteriorate with every charge cycle they complete. In fact, they’re known to self-discharge and typically offer less capacity even if not used for a while.

You complete one charge cycle when you use 100 percent of your battery.

Of course, you may not use 100 percent from one charge as some users recharge their Airpods before it gets low. For these users, it can take days to complete a charge cycle.

However, if you regularly drain your Airpods’ batteries completely before recharging them, they’re likely to have a lower lifespan.

According to Tektronix, lithium-ion batteries can last up to 3 years or 300-500 charge cycles, depending on whichever comes first. If you notice your AirPods lasting shorter and shorter, your AirPods are dying fast.

5 Tips to Make Your AirPods or AirPods Pro Last Longer

While AirPods have a finite lifespan, certain habits can prolong it. Of course, damage to your AirPods is inevitable after years of use, but these tips should help slow the damage:

Do not expose the AirPods to extreme temperatures

Even though AirPods are designed to withstand a wide range of temperatures, extreme ambient temperatures will damage them. For instance, using your AirPods beyond 35°C (95° f) can cause the AirPods to modify their behavior to reduce temperature. In short, your AirPods may not function well.

According to Apple, the optimal temperature range for using your AirPods is between 16 °C (62 °F) and 22 °C (72 °F). Anything beyond and below that can damage your AirPods irreparably. This includes charging and storage.

However, while using your AirPods in cold temperatures will reduce their battery life, this is only temporary. It’ll return to normal once the AirPods’ battery returns to a standard temperature.

Exposing AirPods to high temperatures, on the other hand, will result in permanent battery damage.

A word of advice: don’t leave your AirPods in your parked car. Parked cars usually register high temperatures, which can damage your AirPods.

Time your charging

One way to sustain your battery life is to monitor your recharges. As ironic as it is, constantly filling up your batteries can cause irreparable damage to your AirPods. Your battery is under mechanical stress whenever it holds a full charge. This stress shortens your AirPods’ battery lifespan.

We recommend regularly checking your battery life so you can optimize your AirPods usage. You can read our guide on How to Check Your AirPods’ Battery: The Ultimate Guide for help.

Luckily, Apple anticipated this problem early on and provided a solution – optimized battery charging. This feature breaks off charging at 80 percent, so your AirPods don’t charge completely. This way, they escape mechanical stress and can live a bit longer.

The only caveat is that optimized battery charging works most effectively when you have a charging routine.

For instance, you charge your AirPods every morning. Following your routine, optimized battery charging will keep your battery at 80 percent right until you need your AirPods. This process safeguards your battery from extensive damage.

However, optimized battery charging works only for iPhones, iPod touches, or iPads with iOS or iPadOS 14 and later.

Avoid fully discharging your AirPods and their case

Just as max charging your AirPods can destroy the battery life, deep discharges reduce the lifespan of your AirPods battery. Deep discharges can cause permanent damage to the lithium-ion battery as they trigger a short circuit in your AirPods during recharge. You don’t want that happening.

Optimally, you should keep your battery at 25–85 percent. There’s a reason your iPhone or iPad alerts you at 20 percent. The beep means it’s time to charge your battery. You’re simply slashing the lifespan when you use your battery at 10 percent or below.

The same goes for your AirPods case – only plug it in when it needs charging. Your AirPods case charges through inductive (wireless) charging, which uses more energy and releases heat stress. This stress weakens your battery and shortens its lifespan.

To prolong your AirPods case’s battery life, it’s best to also keep it between 25 and 85 percent.

Keep AirPods away from water

Let’s get this straight, there are no waterproof AirPods. Apple only has water and sweat-resistant AirPods. The difference between the two terms is that you can wear your AirPods for a sweaty jog, but you can’t take them swimming.

Even after heavy workouts, you’ll have to wipe your AirPods with a lint-free cloth to keep them dry. And, make sure they’re fully dry before you use or charge them again.

If for some reason, your AirPods do get wet, you need to get the water out without damaging them.

Also, avoid using compressed air for drying your AirPods. The force is too strong and can destroy the speaker mesh and charging port.

Your AirPods’ sweat and water resistance can also deteriorate with wear.

Remove the AirPods’ case cover when charging

Case covers indeed protect your Airpods and their charging case from scratches and dings. However, they also generate excess heat, which may damage your battery and reduce its lifespan.

We recommend removing the case cover when charging your Airpods to reduce the case’s heat during charge. Even though it won’t increase your battery life, it’ll certainly reduce it.

Try disabling certain smart features (such as automatic ear detection and spatial audio) or turning off ANC and Transparency modes (for AirPods Pro) to conserve battery life. For earbuds that already have a shorter battery performance, try using one pod at a time.

Battery Service for AirPods: What You Need to Know

Apple covers AirPods repairs or replacements if your warranty is still active or you have purchased AppleCare+.

However, without AppleCare+, you’ll have to pay for battery service, which allows you to replace your AirPods’ battery if they only hold less than 80 percent of their capacity.

Depending on your model, this can cost between $49-$79. For the charging case, the battery can be replaced for a fee of $49. All of these prices are subject to tax and requisite shipping fees.

AppleCare+ does not cover lost or stolen AirPods or their case.

If you need to repair or replace your AirPods’ battery and have AppleCare+, simply make an appointment with any Apple Authorized Service Provider and send your AirPods over to them. You can even mail them to the store if you don’t have the time.

You’ll need your proof of purchase, original AirPods box, charging case, and serial number for the service. Of course, if the battery problem is manufacturing-related, you’ll get the service for free.

Conclusion

AirPods are some of the most popular headphones on the market as they come with unique features and convenience. But, their battery life has been a sore spot for many users for years now. Sadly, the more you use or charge your Airpods, the more your battery life deteriorates.

While you can lavish more money on a new pair of AirPods, we recommend taking care of your current ones as best you can. After all, battery life reduction is inevitable. This way, you can save a few bucks and use your AirPods for a long time.

We hope this guide will have helped you learn the tips needed to extend your AirPods’ battery’s lifespan. Now go ahead and get the most juice out of your AirPods until their batteries are in top condition!

Did you find the article helpful? Did we miss any tips? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!

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