Your AirPods Probably Have Terrible Battery Life – The Atlantic

Two years ago, Desmond Hughes heard so many of his favorite podcasters extolling AirPods, Apple’s tiny, futuristic $170 wireless headphones, that he decided they were worth the splurge. He quickly became a convert.

Hughes is still listening to podcasters talk about their AirPods, but now they’re complaining. The battery can no longer hold a charge, they say, rendering them functionally useless.


Hughes, who is 35 and lives in Newport News, Virginia, has noticed a similar thing about his own set: At first, their charge lasted five hours, but now they sometimes last only half an hour. He frequently listens to one while charging the other–not optimal conditions for expensive headphones.


The lithium-ion batteries that power AirPods are everywhere. One industry report forecast that sales would grow to $109.72 billion by 2026, from $36.2 billion in 2018. They charge faster, last longer, and pack more power into a small space than other types of batteries do. But they die faster, too, often after just a few years, because every time you charge them, they degrade a little. They can also catch fire or explode if they become damaged, so technology companies make them difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to replace themselves.

The result: A lot of barely chargeable AirPods and wireless mice and Bluetooth speakers are ending up in the trash as consumers go through products–even expensive ones–faster than ever.

This is quite disappointing. I bought mine when they were released, in December 2016. I don’t use them a lot; I use them for phone calls (I work at home, and I prefer making phone calls with headphones), and to listen to music and podcasts when I walk. But that is, on average, less than one hour a day, and sometimes I don’t use them for several days.

Nevertheless, I find that they don’t connect to my iPhone reliably any more, and they don’t last as long as they used to. I’m not in a situation where they need replacing yet, especially given the cost, but that headphone jack is looking a lot better now in hindsight.

Source: Your AirPods Probably Have Terrible Battery Life – The Atlantic

Man Who Self-Identifies as “Audiophile” Reviews Apple AirPods

A journalist writing for The Verge, who self-identifies as an “audiophile” has posted a review of Apple’s AirPods. In it, he points out that he is “headphone obsessive,” and that, for some reason, he is “not supposed to like the AirPods.” To be fair, this luxury music listener uses $3,000 headphones to listen to music; and undoubtedly has speaker cables whose cost per meter is more than the AirPods.

So he likes the AirPods. It’s not like this guy is the official audiophile that everyone should listen to. Just read some of what he says; the same drivel that audiophile reviewers spout all the time:

The AirPods convey a full sense of the mood and intent of the music I listen to. By that, I mean that they’re not technically spectacular. They don’t fill my world with a sparkling shimmer when listening to “Rachel’s Song” on the Vangelis Blade Runner soundtrack, but they still put me in that longing, wistful mood.

He only mentions the sound in one paragraph; the rest is about the technical features of the AirPods and their design. As often in “audiophile” reviews, it’s a lot of fluff and little substance.

No, self-identifying as an “audiophile” doesn’t make anyone more qualified to judge audio equipment. This article proves it.

How to Adjust AirPod Settings and Change What Happens When You Tap Your AirPods

Apple’s AirPods are nifty devices. They may not sound great, but they are convenient. They connect to your iPhone or iPad quickly, they know when they’re in your ears and when they’re not, and they charge easily in their case.

You can tap your AirPods to control certain things: your music playback, Siri, and there are a number of useful settings you can adjust. Here’s how to change the settings.

Once your AirPods have been paired, put them in your ears and go to Settings > Bluetooth on your iPhone or iPad.

Bt airpods

In the My Devices section, tap the i on the line following the name of your AirPods.

Airpod settings

You can name your AirPods if you want. This is useful if you have more than one set of AirPods.

You can set how each AirPod reacts when you double-tap. The options are Siri, Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, or Off, if you don’t want tapping to do anything. It’s useful to set a different function for each AirPod.

Automatic ear detection is what the AirPods use to automatically pause music when you remove them from your ears. You probably won’t want to change this.

And the Microphone setting lets you choose to use one AirPod for the microphone, such as when you’re making a phone call, or to let them switch automatically. Switching automatically ensures that neither of them runs out of battery power too soon.

Apple Silently Updates AirPods Firmware to 3.5.1 – TidBITS

Apple has silently updated the AirPods firmware from version 3.3.1 to 3.5.1.

Read the article to see how to check that your AirPods’ firmware is updated. You won’t notice anything; it’s probably a very small amount of data. But if you want to be sure that you’re up to date, you can check.

Oh, and that version number? Usually we’d be at 1.x.x; it’s surprising that it’s already up to version 3.

Source: Apple Silently Updates AirPods Firmware to 3.5.1 – TidBITS

The Limitations of Find My AirPods

One of the features of the upcoming iOS 10.3 is Find My AirPods. This is just an addition to the Find My iPhone app, which can find any of your network-connected Apple products: iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches.

I’ve installed iOS 10.3 on my iPod touch to test it, and it’s clear that there are some limitations with Find My AirPods.

It won’t find your AirPods if they’re in their case. And it won’t find them if they’re out of charge. It will only find them if they’re paired with the device you’re using to search for them. Which also means it will only find them if you’re within range of where they’re located.

Find my airpods

On the plus side, when you are within range, you can have them play a sound, but when I tested this with them in their case, the sound was “pending,” as you can see above, and never played even after I eventually paired them with my iPod. But this is a beta, so it’s understandable that certain features don’t work correctly.

The biggest problem is that, unlike with iPhones, iPads, and Macs, the AirPods need to be paired to a device to work. If you’ve lost them in their case, you’re out of luck.

Apple Investigating Issue With AirPods Randomly Disconnecting During Calls – Mac Rumors

Apple is investigating multiple reports from iPhone owners of AirPods randomly disconnecting and reconnecting during calls, MacRumors has learned.

A long thread on Apple’s Support Communities website has been generated by AirPods users who are regularly experiencing Bluetooth connection dropouts during phone calls, despite the fact that the wireless earphones almost never lose their connection when used to listen to music or anything else.

I’ve not seen this with my iPhone SE, but I have had a large number of calls simply drop when I’m using the AirPods. I can’t be sure it has anything to do with them, but before I had the AirPods, when using a wired headset, I rarely had calls drop.

Source: Apple Investigating Issue With AirPods Randomly Disconnecting During Calls – Mac Rumors

Apple AirPods and Battery Life

Since I got my AirPods on Monday, I’ve been using them to listen to podcasts and audiobooks about two hours a day. From Monday through Thursday, that’d make about eight hours of battery time.

Right after I got the AirPods, I plugged the case in to charge it completely. I think it was around 93% when I first checked, so it quickly charged to capacity. Since then, I did not re-charge the case, letting it change the AirPods, and letting the case’s battery run out.

So that gives me about eight hours’ battery life; Apple rates them at about 24 hours listening time, and 11 hours talk time.

AirPods with Charging Case: More than 24 hours listening time, up to 11 hours talk time.

I did use them for a few phone calls; lets say an hour and a half, so 14% of the total rated battery time. Add that to eight hours of listening, and it’s well under Apple’s specs.

Last night, the case was at 0%, and the AirPods were around 50%. When I checked this morning, the AirPods were dead. I suspect the AirPods may be constantly polling for a device to connect to. Since they only automatically connect to my iPhone – and only when not in the case – they wouldn’t have found it overnight, since I left the AirPods in my office, and my iPhone was in the bedroom. But since the case’s battery was dead, perhaps the AirPods thought they were not in the case and were looking for a connection all night until they ran out of power.

No matter what, this battery life is quite poor. I’ll do some more testing, but if I were to use these more intensively, I’d be disappointed by the amount of time they last. Right now, I’m recharging to 100%, and I’ll try to note in detail how long I use them.

To be fair, it only took less than 10 minutes to charge the AirPods to more than 20%, so I could use them for a walk. So even if you wake up and they’re dead, you can charge them pretty quickly.

Adjust AirPod Settings on iOS and macOS

AirPods offer some settings that you can tweak. Here’s how to do this on iOS, and on a Mac.

On iOS, go to Settings > Bluetooth, then find your AirPods in My Devices. Tap the i icon to the right of its name. You’ll see some options to disconnect the AirPods, forget them, and change their name. Scroll down, and you see the following:

Airpods settings ios

You can choose whether a double-tap activates Siri, plays or pauses music, or does nothing. You can turn on or off automatic ear detection (so AirPods automatically activate when they’re in your ears), and you can choose whether the AirPods automatically choose which one’s microphone is active, or if you want it to always the microphone to use the right or left AirPod.

You can access similar settings on a Mac. Go to System Preferences > Bluetooth, then click Options next to the name of your AirPods. You can see the same options as with iOS.

Airpods options osx

If you want to rename your AirPods on a Mac, just right-click on their name in the Bluetooth preference pane and choose Rename.

You might also want to read my review of the AirPods.

AirPods Tip: Quickly See How Much Charge Remains on AirPods and Case

If you have AirPods, you may want to know how much charge they have. There are two quick ways to do this. If you have the AirPods in your ears, go to an iPhone home screen, then swipe left until you see your widgets. If you have the Batteries widget visible, the AirPods (and the case, if it’s within range), will be listed, with their battery percentages:

Airpods widget

This also works if the AirPods are in their case, and you open the top of the case.

But there’s an even quicker way to see the charge if the AirPods are in their case. Just flip open the charging case, and look at your iPhone. If it’s not asleep, you’ll see this (if it is asleep, just wake it up to see this display):

Airpods charge

Note that if the battery in the case is dead, the screen above does not display. I guess this is understandable, but it means you won’t know how much power your AirPods have until you put them in your ears, at which time you can see them in the Batteries widget.

So if you’d run out of power and put the AirPods in the case to charge them, all you need to do is open the case and look at your iPhone to see if there’s enough charge to start using them again.