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How long do Apple AirPods last?

A pair of Apple AirPods Pro in an open case with water splashed on them.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Apple AirPods are among the most popular (and most deservedly loved) wireless earbuds and headphones on the market. But wire-free listening, exceptional sound quality, and cutting-edge noise cancellation are laurels that wouldn’t be laurels without battery power. 

The lithium-ion cells that run your Apple buds and cans are finite energy sources, and not every AirPods battery behaves the same. So now you’re probably wondering how long your Apple AirPods are going to last. Our helpful guide answers that question and several others. 

Battery life of the AirPods 

Apple AirPods Pro 2 seen with ear tip removed, beside an Apple AirPods 3 earbud.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

With each new AirPods product and generation, Apple provides estimates for how long both the AirPods and charging case should last on a full charge. Most of the time, these figures are based on AirPods raised to half-volume, and with features like ANC and Apple’s Spatial Audio disabled. This means you’re going to get less playback time if you’re the type of person who has ANC turned on all the time, or your earbuds volume cranked to near the maximum. 

That being said, here are the average battery life numbers for every AirPods product you can buy in 2024, including the AirPods Max headphones:

AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)

  • Up to 6 hours of listening time
  • Up to 5.5 hours (with Head Tracking and Spatial Audio enabled)
  • Up to 4.5 hours of talk time
  • Charging case provides an extra 30 hours of listening time/24 hours of talk time

Charging your AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) for 5 minutes in the charging case will get you up to an extra hour of listening and talk time.

AirPods (3rd Gen)

  • Up to 6 hours of listening time
  • Up to 5 hours (with Head Tracking and Spatial Audio enabled)
  • Up to 4 hours of talk time
  • Charging case provides an extra 30 hours of listening time/20 hours of talk time

Charging your AirPods (3rd Gen) for 5 minutes in the charging case will get you up to an extra hour of listening and talk time.

AirPods Max 

  • Up to 20 hours of listening time, talk time, or movie playback (with ANC and Spatial Audio enabled)

Charging your AirPods Max for 5 minutes will get you up to an extra 1.5 hours of listening time. Conveniently, the AirPods Pro Max will enter a low power mode if left stationary for more than 5 minutes. And if they’re not used for more than 72 hours, both Bluetooth and Find My are automatically disabled to preserve battery life.

If you put the AirPods Max in the Smart Case, they’ll immediately enter low-power mode. After 18 hours in the case, both Bluetooth and Find My will be disabled.

AirPods Pro (1st Gen)

  • Up to 4.5 hours of listening time
  • Up to 3.5 hours of talk time
  • Charging case provides an extra 24 hours of listening time/18 hours of talk time

Charging your AirPods (3rd Gen) for 5 minutes in the charging case will get you up to an extra hour of listening and talk time.

AirPods (2nd Gen)

  • Up to 5 hours of listening time
  • Up to 3 hours of talk time
  • Charging case provides an extra 24 hours of listening time/18 hours of talk time

Charging your AirPods (3rd Gen) for 15 minutes in the charging case will get you up to an extra 3 hours of listening time, or up to 2 hours of talk time.

Life expectancy of the AirPods

Generally speaking, your AirPods (including the AirPods Max) should last between two to three years. As we said up above, factors like overall volume, ANC, Head Tracking, and Spatial Audio will impact the frequency and duration of charge cycles. Noise canceling isn’t what’s going to dig a grave for your AirPods, though; instead, we’ve got to hand that shovel to the lithium-ion batteries that the AirPods are powered by. 

You see, every time we recharge our AirPods, the lithium-ion cells lose a little bit of life. And after about 500 charge cycles, the charge capacities of both cells drops to about 80%. 

How to preserve AirPods’ battery life

A person putting Apple AirPods on charge using the Anker MagGo Wireless Charging Station.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

It’s a fact of life: Your AirPods are going to die at some point. It could be two years after you buy them, or maybe a little over three. However, there are a few things you can do to maximize the life of your audio accessory. 

For starters, it’s a good idea to keep all your Apple software up to date. Devices such as iPhones, iPads, Macs, and MacBooks all receive occasional software updates. While most of these patches are designed to improve the performance of the device being updated, there’s often a trickle-down effect to accessories like AirPods. And in some cases, updates may directly address AirPods features and compatibility. 

The better your iPhone runs, the better your AirPods run. It’s a mantra to live by.

Another thing you can do to get the most life out of your AirPods is to avoid the extremes. Don’t place your AirPods (and/or charging case) in super-hot and super-chilly locations. Don’t listen to them with the volume turned all the way up. Don’t always have ANC, Head Tracking, and/or Spatial Audio enabled. You get the idea.  

Repairing your AirPods battery

A MacBook user wearing Apple AirPods Max headphones.
Apple

The inevitable has unfortunately occurred, and your AirPods are completely dead. Unless you’ve run them through the laundry one too many times, or stomped them by accident, the likely cause of death is probably the battery. Now, you’re probably wondering: Is it worth having my AirPods repaired? That’s a good question, and the answer is a big maybe. 

If your AirPods are protected by an optional AppleCare+ two-year protection plan ($29 for AirPods and AirPods Pro; $59 for AirPods Max), you’ll just need to pay a $29 service fee, and the fee’s applicable sales tax. For those without an AppleCare+ plan, the numbers are a bit uglier. 

Let’s say you send your AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) in for battery repairs. You’re looking at $89 for Apple to fix your earbuds. Right now, the same exact AirPods cost around $190 at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. For half the cost of a new set of AirPods, it’s still probably worth sending your dead ones in for a non-AppleCare+ repair.

Under AppleCare+, the most you would have spent for the same repair is somewhere in the area of $60 ($29 to purchase AppleCare+, and one $29 service fee with applicable sales tax).

It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth repairing or outright replacing your AirPods. Non-AppleCare+ repairs for older AirPods models will cost less (in most cases) than the $89 repair cost for the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen). But if you’ve been thinking about upgrading your earbuds or headphones anyway, the demise of your old model may finally motivate you to spend the dough on something brand-new.

Michael Bizzaco
Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from…
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