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

0 thoughts on “Your AirPods Probably Have Terrible Battery Life – The Atlantic

  1. I guess I don’t know why this is a particular surprise to anyone. Stuff wears out. Li-ion batteries work great, but, they do have a lifespan. I don’t like it any more than anyone else, but, accept it as a fact of life. The cynic in me might wonder if Apple understood the likely lifespan of these things and targeted 2019 as the right time to bring out AirPod 2.

  2. I have the same issue. Was very happy till 2 months ago. Now they last barely an hour on a phone call and listening to music no more than two hours. Used to use in the office all day. Very disappointing. New air pods released. Can not justify a £199. Great product but poor product quality.

  3. The characteristics of lithium-ion batteries are pretty well-known. Not by the journalists at The Atlantic, apparently, but by anyone who takes the time to read a bit about battery technology. These batteries have many advantages over other available technologies, but they fall short of the battery that we might wish for and dream of. Like most available batteries, they have a limited life, and their ability to hold a charge decreases over time, whether you use them a lot or not.

    The makers of lithium-ion batteries have improved them every year, so it makes sense that the newest batteries perform better than older ones.
    But the best of batteries made today they still share the features of most batteries and other technological marvels, or of humans, for that matter. Batteries, and humans, get older more quickly than we wish, and stop working as well.

    • Yes, but I’ve been wondering if there isn’t another factor. AirPods are exposed to the outdoor temperature much more than, say, an iPhone, that spends a lot of time in a warm (or cool) pocket. Extreme temperatures reduce the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries, and it’s possible that AirPods are suffering much more if people use them outdoors in very hot and very cold temperatures than if they only use them indoors.

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