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How long do AirPods last, and can you make them last longer?

Here's how to get the most out of your Apple earbuds or headphones.
By
March 7, 2023
Airpods wireless charging case
Chase Bernath / Android Authority

Apple’s AirPods are everywhere, but these popular earbuds aren’t known for their long battery life. Quite the contrary: AirPods owners observe that their earbuds don’t last longer than a couple years of daily use. Today, we’ll see how long AirPods really last and if you can do anything to increase their lifespan. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of your AirPods.

How long does the battery in AirPods last?

First, we have to establish the maximum expected battery life of AirPods. Apple makes battery life claims for each model, but real-world testing can help us get a better idea. With all that in mind, here are the claimed battery life stats along with our test results for each AirPods model.

How long is the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) battery life?

The AirPods (2nd generation) resting outside of their case resting on a book.

Apple claims the AirPods (2nd generation) will last the following after a full charge:

  • Up to five hours of listening time.
  • Up to three hours of talk time.

However, our tests showed that they had four hours, seven minutes of listening time.

When you use the charging case, Apple claims the AirPods (2nd generation) get up to 24 hours of battery life. They also support fast charging, with 15 minutes in the charging case getting you up to three hours of listening time.

What’s the battery life of the Apple AirPods (3rd generation)?

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) open case holds the earbuds and sits on a wood surface.
Austin Kwok / Android Authority

The AirPods (3rd generation) have different battery life claims for various listening modes. After a full charge, Apple claims they will last the following:

  • Up to six hours of listening time with Spatial Audio disabled.
  • Up to five hours of listening time with Spatial Audio enabled.
  • Up to four hours of talk time.

Our tests showed that the AirPods (3rd generation) lasted six hours, 21 minutes on a single charge with Spatial Audio disabled. Compared to the AirPods (2nd generation), the battery life is notably longer. If you drop them back into their MagSafe case, you’ll get the following total battery life results according to Apple:

  • Up to 30 hours of listening time.
  • Up to 20 hours of talk time.

They support fast charging, too. A five-minute stint in the MagSafe case will net you 60 minutes of listening or talk time.

Do the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have a long battery life?

The AirPods Pro 2 sitting outside their case on a wooden surface with the case nearby.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

The active noise-cancelling (ANC) AirPods Pro (2nd generation) promise to last this long:

  • Up to six hours with ANC enabled.
  • Up to 5 hours, 30 minutes with ANC, Spatial Audio, and head tracking enabled.
  • Up to 4 hours, 30 minutes of talk time.

In our tests, we got five hours, 43 minutes from the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with ANC on and Spatial Audio off. That’s not quite the claimed six hours, but it’s close. Dropping them into their charging case will net you the following total battery life:

  • Up to 30 hours of listening time (ANC enabled).
  • Up to 24 hours of talk time (ANC enabled).

The second-generation AirPods Pro also support fast charging. Five minutes in the case gives you one hour of listening time, according to Apple.

How long do the Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation) last?

The AirPods Pro earbuds in the wireless charging case next to an iPhone and digital camera.
Sam Smart / Android Authority

Apple claims that the AirPods Pro (1st generation) get the following battery life:

  • Up to 5 hours of listening time with ANC disabled.
  • Up to 4 hours, 30 minutes of listening time with ANC enabled.
  • Up to 3 hours, 30 minutes of talk time with ANC enabled.

According to our tests, the first-gen AirPods Pro lasted for four hours, 20 minutes with ANC on and five hours, 6 minutes with ANC off. That’s pretty much on par with Apple’s claims.

With the MagSafe charging case, Apple says you can get the following total battery life:

  • Up to 24 hours of listening time.
  • Up to 18 hours of talk time.

According to Apple, fast charging will give you around one hour of listening or talk time after five minutes in the charging case.

How long is the Apple AirPods Max battery life?

The Apple AirPods Max in white against a slatted wood surface.
Adam Molina / Android Authority

The AirPods Max are larger than the other models of AirPods, so they have more room for bigger batteries. Apple claims they can get the following battery life:

  • Up to 20 hours of listening time with ANC enabled, and Spatial Audio turned on.
  • Up to 20 hours of talk time.
  • Up to 20 hours of movie playback with Spatial Audio enabled.

In our tests, we got close to 21 hours of battery life from the Max with ANC on and just over 21 hours with ANC off.

The AirPods Max don’t have a charging case, but they do support fast charging. After five minutes of Lightning charging, Apple says they can get around 90 minutes of listening time.

How do we test the battery life of AirPods?

Our sister site SoundGuys tests battery life by subjecting the earbuds or headphones to constant music playback that peaks at 75dB(SPL). The team then observes a waveform that indicates how long the audio product played music. This standardized testing makes it easy to compare figures across reviews but often differs from a manufacturer’s specs.

How to make your AirPods battery last longer

The AirPods Pro connection prompt on an iPhone showing the battery life status of the buds themselves and the charging case.

You might find the battery life stats of the AirPods to be a bit alarming, but they’re actually on par with other earbuds in general. If you want to ensure your headphones or earbuds last as long as possible, there are some steps you can take.

First, try and keep their charge percentage above 20-40% and below 80%. AirPods paired with an iPhone can learn your listening habits and prevent charging above 80% until just before you listen, which can help with this. However, you will have to store your buds outside their charging case to fully prevent them from charging while in the sweet spot. Additionally, if you won’t be using them for a while, charge the AirPods to around 50% and then store them outside the charging case in a cool, dry place. And don’t worry; partial charging isn’t bad for lithium-ion batteries.

When using your AirPods, you can also take some steps to preserve battery life. If you are only using one bud, you can put your them into mono mode to preserve the battery life of the bud not in use. Turning off ANC can extend battery life, as can disabling Spatial Audio and smart features. Finally, if you aren’t actively listening to anything, take out your buds — and if they’re above 20-40% battery and below 80%, store them outside their charging case.

Top AirPods battery life questions and answers

You can send your AirPods into Apple for battery replacement. Replacing the AirPods earbuds batteries will cost $49. To replace the AirPods Max battery, it will cost $79.

To check your AirPod battery, open the AirPods case near your iPhone. This will prompt a notification card to appear, and it will give you a readout of each AirPod battery life along with the case’s battery.

The lithium-ion cells found in AirPod batteries are expected to last around two to three years under everyday use. That may sound short, but because the batteries are so small, there’s simply not enough room to cram in larger, more durable cells.

Technically, yes. Like any other battery, the battery in your AirPods will drain slowly even when they are not in use. It just happens so slowly that you may not realize it at first. Furthermore, the AirPods Max don’t have an off button, so they will drain battery when not in use unless you store them in their Smart Case.

It is not really possible to change the tiny batteries in AirPods yourself. AppleCare+ covers battery replacements if your device holds less than 80% of its charge for the case and earbuds of the AirPods. But battery service for wear from regular use comes with a fee. You can also buy replacement earbuds from Apple or third-party sources if the batteries in your AirPods have run down.